Last Updated: November 18, 2020

In the Internet age, people may shop at the click of a button. Yet, no matter how much we integrate technology in our lives, we still will spend part of our days—and part of our shopping and business experiences—interacting with people in the physical world. As long as the personal dimension remains in our shopping and our work, there will also be opportunities for marketers to step outside their buildings to interact with their customers in person.

What is field marketing?

Field marketing involves working on site to connect with markets. As such, it comprises all marketing activities that involve face-to-face contact with the consumer.

For some companies, it includes coordinating large sales teams who meet with customers face to face, while others run street promotions and hand out flyers (See also Street Marketing).

Who implements field marketing?

With the exception of some online-only companies that may rely exclusively on Internet marketing, nearly every company that markets to consumers employs some type of field marketing (See also Internet Marketing). It can be used to promote a specific product or service, or promote a particular brand. Some of the more common types of business that extensively use field marketing include:

Some Field Marketing Options

  • product sampling
  • leafleting
  • merchandising/display
  • special events
  • lead generation
  • road shows
  • retail support
  • Food, beverage, and tobacco
  • Health and beauty products
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Home goods, appliances, and cleaning products
  • Grocers, convenience stores, and department stores
  • Sellers of mobile devices and telecommunications providers

For what kinds of customers is field marketing effective?

Field marketing is used with a wide variety of market segments, and different field marketing activities are geared toward different customers. Essentially, if customers are physically present in the marketplace, they become field marketing targets.

There are several techniques generally employed in a field marketing campaign. Point-of-sale campaigns are developed to exploit impulse buyers (See also Point-of-Sale Marketing). Effective merchandising is important for both list shoppers and those who are browsing. Meanwhile, promotional campaigns in the field look for the customers they call “shapers”—the highly interactive individuals who have significant influence on their other relationships. Shapers share positive experiences with others, and like to refer friends to a product or service they like.

How is a field marketing campaign developed?

The Marketing Mix Done Consumer-Centric

  • Product -> consumer: Start by asking: What does the consumer want? Customize product solutions, instead of herding consumers to existing options.
  • Price -> cost: Include the opportunity costs and the cost of ownership that the consumer considers when shopping.
  • Promotion -> communication: Be more interactive; dialogue instead of sell.
  • Place -> convenience: Make the process of buying easier; in the Internet age, ease of access isn’t only about physical placement.

Field marketing campaigns have their own specific risks: By relying on face-to-face communication, they place the reputation of the product, service, or brand in the hands of a multitude of individuals. Instead of broadcasting a single consistent message through a single channel (as through a magazine or television advertisement), the message communicated through field marketing will vary according to the communications skills of those people in contact with the consumer.

For this reason, a field marketing campaign relies on effective training of personnel. Professionals involved in the campaign must not only communicate effectively and persuasively, but also be able to gauge how consumer interest in communication.

A field marketing campaign may employ multiple tactics in order to deliver its message:

  • Product Sampling and Demonstrations – Product sampling and demonstrations are often done inside grocery or department stores where the product can be bought, as well as at fairs, trade shows, concerts, and any other place people gather. The marketer aims to engage every customer who samples the product (sometimes tricky, as customers are happy to sample and run). At locations where the product cannot be immediately purchased, the sampler or demonstrator may offer an alternative call to action, such as checking out a website for coupons, or having the customer fill out a contact card for future promotions—thus creating a situation where the customer is requesting additional information. (See also Trade Show Marketing)
  • In-store Promotions – In-store promotions involve marketing to your own customer base when they’re already on location to buy a related product. Home Depot In-Home Services, for example, offers a number of different services to customers (such as roofing, tile, and window installation). Using lead generators at the store to talk to customers, they discover what kind of projects they’re working on, and then present specific offers that will fit their future plans. In each face-to-face interaction, the representative must gauge the customer’s reception of the message; the lead generator may speak to more than 10 people for every one that he or she ultimately pitches on a product. Being perceived as pushy will compromise the brand (and return business), so the goal is to be helpful, and have solutions ready for all the customer’s needs.
  • Street Promotions – Street promotions involve sending teams into crowded areas to distribute flyers, coupons, incentive cards, or other promotional items. Ideally the promotion has some tie-in to the event that has drawn the crowd, and contributes to the experience. Thus, at a street fair or celebration, marketers may pass out some sort of “game piece” cards, such as scratch-off incentive cards. When done effectively, consumers will associate the enjoyment of the event with their interaction with your brand.
  • Merchandising – Merchandising involves making sure that retail displays are attractive to customers, and require coordinating with retailers. Savvy retailers will already be making sure that products are faced toward the customer and well stocked (they don’t want to miss sales, either); but the marketer can negotiate special displays and particular shelf space for their product. Here, the customer includes the retailer, who buys your product in bulk and makes money selling it to consumers. The field marketer aims to cultivate his or her relationship with retailers, and will work to promote the success of the retailer, as this in turn promotes his or her own success.

What career titles work with field marketing strategies?

Field Marketing Managers

Field Marketing Managers direct a variety of field marketing techniques in their campaigns.

What do they do?

What type of salary should I expect?

  • Marketing Manager
    Mean annual pay: $126,190
    Top 10%: $166,400+
  • Sales Promotion Manager
    Mean annual pay: $103,350
    Top 10%: $166,400+
  • Market Research Analyst
    Mean annual pay: $67,130
    Top 10%: $111,440+

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • identify market opportunities for consumer engagement on a face-to-face level
  • train teams in communication and presentation skills
  • evaluate effectiveness of marketing efforts, and make adjustments
  • ensure that multiple field market tactics all provide a consistent message
Education and Skills

A field marketing managers should have at least a bachelor’s degree, often in marketing, advertising, or business management; and at least three years of successful experience in a field activity, such as sales, merchandising, or special promotions. Education preparing them for this career includes classes in marketing, market research, consumer behavior, and public speaking.

Promotions Manager

Promotions Managers direct specific promotional events.

What do they do?
  • plan, execute, and evaluate specific promotional events, such as product giveaways or street campaigns
  • coordinate with venues, vendors, and other elements of a location—whether a street fair or a national conference—to make sure the promotion is smoothly executed
  • establish specific goals for a promotional event and develop metrics to gauge success
  • acquire talent for promotional campaigns, and train/supervise participants
Education and Skills

Promotions managers need at least a bachelor’s degree, usually in marketing or communications. In addition to excellent communication and presentation ability, a promotions manager must have excellent organizational skills, and two to three years’ experience leading a team. Their work experience often begins in sales or direct marketing.

Market Research Analysts

Market Research Analysts identify market opportunities for field campaigns.

What do they do?
  • use a variety of methods (including interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups) to identify areas of the market that could benefit from more person-to-person contact, and how specifically they can benefit
  • develop metrics for gauging a market’s response to a campaign, and use those metrics to analyze data, employing statistical methods and software
  • discover market perception of a product, service, or brand, and make recommendations on promotional strategy
  • distill and communicate findings to their organization, using charts, graphs, and other means
Education and Skills

Market research analysts typically have a bachelor’s degree in market research, and some of the more technical analyst jobs may require a degree in statistics or computer science. Senior analysts in charge of teams often also have a master’s degree in marketing or business management. As with other marketing careers, initial experience often begins with an internship while still in school, developing such skills as data collection, analysis, and report writing.

How can a marketing school help you succeed?

Our Recommended Schools

  1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

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Effective field marketing requires persuasive communication skills for professionals to engage consumers on a personal level. Marketing degree programs train students to develop the planning and organizational abilities needed to carry out successful field marketing campaigns.

In a marketing program, you’ll also learn how to acquire and analyze meaningful data using a variety of research methods and analysis. Economics classes will give you a framework for understanding the levels of supply and demand in the market. Classes in market research, statistics, and consumer behavior will enable you to identify specific market segments, and what communications channels—including face-to-face interaction—you can use to reach them. Courses in business management, accounting, and sales will provide you with a foundation for directing business teams towards profitable results.

To learn more about what a marketing school can do for you, request information from schools with degrees in marketing, and get yourself into the field with an engaging and profitable career.