Field marketing has long played a valuable role for gathering insight into consumers at the point of sale. Now, however, the time has come for brand owners to scrutinise more closely their investment in these activities and find new ways to make that investment in field marketing work harder.
The good news is that the fast-changing world now presenting brand owners with so many challenges is also throwing up new opportunities. For just as digital technology has re-shaped the media landscape for marketing communications, so does digital technology provide unprecedented potential to understand consumers more intimately as they move around in-store.
Ben Daldry, director at data capture specialist Hand-I shares his top ten tips on how to gather this vital information:
1. Don't be afraid to ask consumers to provide you with information; in most cases they have made a conscious decision to interact with the brand and can be relied upon to offer information or feedback
2. Give consumers the opportunity to provide as much or as little information as they want; let them decide if and how they want to be contacted again
3. Always follow up on an opportunity to contact a consumer again; if they've given their permission/consent to be contacted they will expect some that communication - don't let them down (agency staff would never miss the opportunity to follow up on a client lead no matter how remote, but they regularly let their clients miss out on their opportunities)
4. Make sure that any follow up communication is personal and relevant; acknowledge, either directly or indirectly, the fact you've met them face-to-face and use the information they have offered to send targeted messages, don't just export those face-to-face contacts into a mass/generic database
5. Send your first follow up communication within a few days; the original experience will be fresh in their memory and response rates are likely to be higher
6. Feedback directly from consumers means so much more than anecdotal comment; other medias invest heavily in direct research whilst many experiential and field marketing campaigns are evaluated on the basis of perceptions and snapshots
7. Capture valuable information as accurately as possible; digital capture can reduce wastage to minimal numbers compared with paper-based collection techniques where errors occur both at the collection and processing stages
8. Use information collected to help plan future campaigns more effectively; brands/agencies shouldn't simply rely on footfall data to plan - response rates to campaigns will vary across regions and consumer environments but it's impossible to quantify without collecting the data from consumers in the first place
9. Make use of available technology to simplify the collection and processing of field data; it seems as if brands and agencies are still relying on 20th century technology to solve a 21st century problem, endless hours are spent by account handlers chasing their staff for field reports, re-formatting, collating and analysing them - it doesn't have to be this hard
10. Be flexible in the approach to collecting data; don't restrict consumers to just providing the information that you want, give them the ability to ask questions or let you know their thoughts - brands should have the systems in place to react to consumer feedback in a way that field staff may not be able to (rather than having their questions go forever unanswered).
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