FIELD MARKETING: Track and Field - Tracking the success of a field marketing campaign is getting easier, thanks to new hi-tech approaches

If any sector can shrug off the current economic downturn, it's

field marketing. With clients desperate for reassurance that they're

spending their budgets effectively, field marketers believe their

ability to provide measurable results gives them a clear advantage when

pitching for business.

"In the past three months we have become much busier tactically," Mike

Garnham, the managing director of Headcount, comments. "Companies want

campaigns to be highly measurable, with short deadlines and reporting

afterwards that justifies the spend."

Field marketing, however, is a term that covers a range of activities,

from ensuring retailers honour their obligations to manufacturers to

"live the brand" roadshows.

Return on investment is relatively easy to demonstrate in compliance

work, where the cost of a timely store visit to ensure a promotion is

being implemented is clearly dwarfed by the amount that would otherwise

be lost.

In the case of auditing and merchandising activities, on the other hand,

Headcount provides a web page to help clients evaluate exactly what it

is doing. "We can give the cost of every case we sell, every display we

mount, and every sample we give out, as well as the value of

merchandising activity," Garnham says.

The level of detail includes the amount of stock available before the

visit, the amount merchandised during it and the situation on


Reports will be backed by the client's Nielsen data that tracks the

uplift in wholesaler sales or, in the case of multiples, shipments from

retail distribution centres.

A relatively new approach is to calculate the likely return for brands

when introduced to new distribution points and merchandising displays.

Knowing what sales each unit is likely to deliver enables the client to

determine more or less how long it will take to achieve a payback.

This is something that Momentum has been trialling for the past 12

months, using its experience of how particular products tend to behave.

The model has proved to be robust and is seen as offering real

competitive advantage, according to the UK managing director, Derek


"When our clients spend a certain amount on field marketing they want to

know what the payback will be and over what period. This system enables

them to understand that," he says.

Most of the big field marketing agencies have been issuing staff with

handheld computers for some time, which means information can quickly be

made available in a digital format. The next stage is to make this

accessible via a secure intranet, where clients can log on to see the

results for the day.

"Gone are the days of weekly paper reports: you can now drill down to

retailer level on a daily basis to find out what is going on, then

manipulate and test the data in different ways," Tom Preece, the

managing director of CPM, says. Preece believes the agency has stolen a

march over rivals here and treats the facility as a unique selling


The information is highlighted automatically and in a graphical form,

which means clients can instantly spot what action is required, without

having to trawl through reams of data. A traffic light system uses

green, amber and red to indicate which stores are up to scratch, those

that need some attention and those where there are problems.

Measurability is also available to a large extent with face-to-face


For instance, Carlson Field Marketing analyses the potential results

from a tactical sampling project on the basis of recent consumer


This might suggest what percentage of those consumers offered a sample

at front of store are likely to buy. If this number, say 120,000, each

buys three items at £2 over a year, the result will be £720,000 worth of sales, at retail level. Subtracting the cost of the

campaign indicates the return on investment.

"Calculations of this sort, based on forecasting, are very challenging,

but they are something we are starting to investigate," Carlson's

managing director, Brona Connolly, comments.

A more common approach is using Epos data to gauge sales uplift on

activity days.

Evaluation becomes harder in cases where the underlying strategy is to

increase brand perception, something that RPM, the roadshows and events

specialist, is striving to achieve in place of spot tactical


However, the agency has been trialling a new model for evaluating the

impact and value of "experiential" marketing. Called brand experience

rating points tracker (Bert), this measures the total communication

achieved via brand experiences against net financial cost, including

sales uplift and media value.

To calculate "total communication", the model considers the campaign's

reach, degree of sensory stimulation and the perceived quality of a

brand experience, as independently researched. These are then given

rating points.

"Evaluating experiences isn't just about how many people you reached or

how many samples you handed out," the commercial director, Tim Medcalf,

says. "It's about the quality and depth of an experience and its direct

impact on the people's attitudes and behaviour."

RPM works with the market research giant Taylor Nelson Sofres to develop

impartial third-party measurement after the activity. This involves

measuring the number of new users that have been brought into the brand

and existing data on profit margins and weight of purchase to calculate

the effect of this business.

For its work with Strongbow, the agency was able to measure both the

financial payback and the degree of perception change. It established,

for instance, that a campaign in the holiday hot-spot of Ibiza emerged

as more effective than one carried out in the UK. RPM has also trialled

elements of its measurement model with Unilever and expects that it will

become a routine part of its product.

What drives agencies in their quest for effective evaluation models is

the need to demonstrate that they can bring tangible results. As Medcalf

concludes: "We need to have a much more adult and developed discussion

with clients than field marketers are used to having. A clear indication

of payback helps us achieve that."


To support the relaunch of American Express' green card and yield a

number of quantifiable results, Momentum brought the golf champion Tiger

Woods to London and recreated features from two of his favourite courses

in Hyde Park.

More than 5,000 people gathered to watch Woods demonstrate his


Widespread media coverage led to an overall 26 per cent increase in call

volume and new acquisitions for the card, greatly exceeding


The day of the event produced the highest rate ever, a 253 per cent lift

above normal call volume activity.

More than 110 million web impressions were generated in the UK alone.

News of the event was carried in every UK national print publication and

broadcast station that reports general news. Coverage was secured in

five additional large European markets outside of UK.

Other measures included:

- Increase of prospect brand awareness: 24 per cent (from 59 to 73 per


- Positive brand image shift among prospects: from 18 to 34 per cent

- Increase in web traffic and applications: 25 per cent

- Lift in response rates for American Express direct mail shot: 25 per



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