Field Marketing (FM) is a subset discipline within marketing, focused on promotions and the raising of brand awareness in the ‘field’, or amongst a target group. It traditionally involves physical, tangible marketing strategies, such as the distribution of promotional materials or sampling, though it can often be expanded to include such tactics as PR events (like fundraisers), ‘road-shows’ and mystery shopping.
Marketing today generally focuses around the development of new technology. Often, marketing firms find themselves contracted for online PR work, such as managing social media accounts, promoting brands across the internet, and bringing-together consumer and product through the internet. Originality is also a major part of things. With a society socialised into expecting customisation and the ability to tailor services to the liking of the individual, marketing has moved away from established patterns, and increased the popularity of ‘guerilla’ or ‘experiential’ marketing styles. Such styles break the normal conventions of marketing, involving anything from graffiti to brand-sponsored, zeppelin-borne banners.
The idea of marketing in the field is far from obsolete, however. For one, the move to a largely online medium has opened large gaps in the market. Some firms even neglect offline marketing entirely, believing solely marketing via the internet to be more cost-effective. While it is true that internet marketing can be a cheaper investment than, for example, a sampling campaign, it does not necessarily provide a large Return on Investment (ROI). The internet can be a highly saturated market, and hosts a lot of competition. However, given the increasing inter-connectivity of people (often able to connect to the internet at any time, thanks to smartphones and tablets), there is absolutely no way to simply abandon the internet as a marketing means. Brands must, therefore, find a balance between online and offline marketing, or produce a strategy which combines them both.
FM is often a large part of what is known as ‘Experiential’ marketing. Experiential, an event involving or based on experience and observation, is a type of marketing designed to engage and interest consumers. Guerilla marketing is, for example, a style of Experiential marketing, as it involves using unorthodox methods to attract publicity. An experiential campaign could involve connecting real-world and online marketing, as seen in ARG (Alternate Reality Games); examples being Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero campaign, which had fans decoding messages and sharing files found on memory sticks at the band’s gigs.
Though experiential marketing is not the only use of FM today, it is one of the most effective ones. There exist a great number of experienced and talented FM organisers, dedicated to providing a positive field marketing service to brands, and even such large groups can be used as part of even larger campaigns. FM prevails, because though the internet is a huge part of modern society, social media can never actively replace real-world interactions, and must exist parallel to it.