The ultimate field marketing guide for creating branded experiences
One thing I hear constantly is how much our customers love to clone events for field marketing at scale.
Unless we have a customer who literally sells tracts of grassy land, it’s not literally … marketing fields. So what is this field marketing thing?
Field marketing simply means marketing your product or service away from your company headquarters. Taking your pitch out into the field, so to speak. This is going to come in a lot of different forms.
One you’re probably familiar with—even if the term field marketing doesn’t ring a bell—is marketing at trade shows. Whether it’s a huge industry event where global companies try to tempt high-level clients, or a small convention where everyone is selling their own little products, it’s a common form of field marketing.
Trade shows you might be familiar with:
IMEX America 2022
Another example of field marketing is branded media events—when a business hosts a gathering, large or small, to spread the word about their product, service, or brand. For example:
Now, those are biggies—household brands holding very well-known events. You won’t be surprised to know that most field marketing events are … smaller. But definitely mighty.
The basic definition of field marketing is: going out into your target market audience and letting them know about your product, brand, or service. Often these are small events. Such as:
Field marketing events don’t have to be big showstoppers; it’s as simple as gathering a group of people together to create an experience. If you’re getting out there and meeting prospects or customers, you’re probably field marketing.
Here are some smaller examples that you may or may not recognize:
Anything! A major appeal of field marketing is that it’s no longer simply a salesperson in a suit with a clipboard, trying to attract your attention to sell you something. (Though, it can be. If that’s really what you want to do.) More often, it’s a party, or beautiful displays, or a social gathering with immersive branding. It’s a concept we call experiential marketing, where you’re packaging an experience with a brand. Sometimes there isn’t even any actual selling at the event.
Take Heineken for example. We all know the little green bottles, right? Not only are they a beer, they’re becoming more and more known for their events, known as the Heineken Experience. These people are so good at field marketing that they can charge YOU to come out and throw an event that spreads their brand awareness. Something to aspire to.
Molenzolder event space – Source: www.heinekenexperience.com
More often, you’ll see companies host an after-hours party at a trade show, or a business might send field marketers to sponsor a lunch at a university as a graduate recruiting tactic. It could even be a thank you dinner for people who are already customers, to make sure they feel appreciated. (And promote some word of mouth, just sayin’.)
Experiential field marketing is simply embedding a cultural experience or enjoyment into your event. So you’re not simply giving a boring sales pitch, you’re making connections with something your potential customers already enjoy: from sports to music, to something as simple as bright colors and a soft armchair at a tiring trade show. It’s about forming relationships with a targeted audience. Because, as our fantastic SVP of Sales says, People buy from people.
Field marketing is reach, without real estate. Let’s be real, most of us can’t be everywhere we want to be, no matter how many headquarters we build. Just like the traveling salesmen of days gone by, if a brand wants to grow, they have to target their prospects, and go to them. Sometimes that means going out and throwing independent events, and sometimes that means being part of an event within a larger industry-focused event. Either way, locate your target audience, and take your pitch right to them.
Spread it far, spread it wide. No one’s going to buy a product or service they’ve never heard of. Well, maybe that one weird guy. Field marketing gives you the opportunity to showcase your brand. Sometimes that means an actual product demonstration, but sometimes it means showcasing your company’s values and philosophy, like a telehealth platform hosting a community fun-run.
When you’re creating a fully-branded field marketing experience, you need to ask yourself what your company represents, and then give your attendees a taste of that. A fun, carefree company should run fun, carefree events. A professional, formal company should have an experience that looks very different. Along with your logo and your color scheme, a field marketing event gives you the opportunity to tell the world what your company means.
Event-led growth has been a bit on the downlow the last two years, but is sweeping the industry again. If you’ve been surviving without it, now is the time to return to this crucial tool or try it out for the first time. The days of tired TV commercials and random mass email mailings are gone. And, well, we won’t miss them. Event experiences are the new wave of marketing and promotion, and I predict it’s going to be difficult for any company to truly scale without the face-to-face outreach that defines field marketing. If you’re an international business trying to build a bigger share of your global market, field marketing is essential.
Imagine a car wash. You know, the kind for high schoolers where they wave posters and try to get people to pull into an empty lot and donate in exchange for a quick wash. (Totally an example of small-scale field marketing, btw!) Now, instead of a quick twenty dollar bill and a wave and a smile, imagine that you have them enter their name and email address on a Google Spreadsheet. By the time the day is over, you not only have the money you fundraised, you also have a database of contact info for marketing targets who you already know something important about: they care about the school or the sport, or they’re a friend or family of one of the students.
You now have a targeted audience that you can email to let them know about future fundraisers, notify them of games, suggest they buy team merch, and spotlight members of the team to remind them that this is about people. Amazing! Now swap that for a business, multiply it by orders of magnitude, and for the love of all that is holy, lose the Google Spreadsheet and get yourself some event registration software. Instant leads, instant pipeline, instant potential. All because you organized your attendees. Or … drivers in this example.
There are two types of field marketing attendees: the ones you know are coming, and the ones you don’t. If your event requires pre-registration, you have a bit more leeway regarding what information you can both collect and require. With walk-bys, you have to work with what you can get, so you better plan your reg form accordingly.
Whichever type of attendees your field marketing event is designed to attract (and sometimes it’s a blend—for example a tradeshow where you can pre-book appointments) you need a customizable form so that you can choose which info to prioritize, and which you can let fall by the wayside.
Let’s break that down. If you’re at an industry trade show, you can assume that the attendees are all interested in services around that industry. But, information like their title (do they have purchasing power) and what types of services they’re on the lookout for, will help immensely. If it’s important for you to know their geographical location, make that question required. If your service is digital, it’s way more important that you get their email address.
With a good registration form that prioritizes the most important elements of your ICP, you can instantly sift through contacts and send the right kind of targeted marketing content to the best people.
Ever walked into a national chain restaurant because you saw an ad for a special online, only to discover it was a location based promo that doesn’t apply here? That’s how customers across all industries feel when services they expect from a brand vary widely based on the event or location. This is where event management software comes in.
With event management software, you can create templates for events that keep branding standards uniform across locations, and even different franchise owners. With a multi-user account, each franchise owner can localize to give their event that nice hometown touch. If you’re running internal franchise events, the same standards apply. When your business is your brand, consistent, high standards are key. A robust event management platform will give you that.
This one is huge. When you’re running an event across oceans, countries, and time zones, it can be such a hassle to get everyone on the same page. If you’re trying to make all of the arrangements by hand, it becomes impossible. It may seem really simple, but the ability to make sure all of your time zones are aligned is actually huge. And that’s just the most basic functionality. Use an event management platform to translate forms and emails, alert people in their own time zones, and give attendees or employees a central place to connect digitally. That’s on top of hosting content in one place, automating the email marketing process, and collecting data via native or integrated analytics. If you’re crossing even one international border, you need an event management platform.
Okay, this probably should have been listed first, but more people remember it if it’s listed last. The most important aspect of field marketing is that you’re out there, forming connections, getting to know your prospects, finding out their pains and needs, and letting them get to know you. Those face-to-face connections are the most effective form of marketing there is, hands down. Especially now. There’s a huge demand to see people face to face after so much digital interaction the last few years. It’s an amazing opportunity to make a great impression.
People in general are craving in-person experiences and field marketing is an incredibly effective vehicle for those experiences. But, if you’re running around trying to handle all of the small details, you’re missing out on what your main job is: to make those connections. An event management platform can take on a lot of the manual work for you, so you can focus on your attendees and their needs. Because in field marketing, everything needs to take a back seat to that awesome moment of connection.
Find an event management platform that can fill your needs now, but also has the capacity to run your field marketing events in 2-5 years. Think about the integrations on your wish list, and how they’re going to play with your event software. The point of field marketing is to grow, so if your event management potential can’t handle where you’re aiming to be, they’re not the right choice.
Field marketing means you’re away from your office. Will your event management software come with you? Will they protect your data as you move it around? Who owns that data? (No seriously, triple-check this one.) What sorts of guarantees can you make to your potential customers about their data? Consider SSO and secure payment gateways. And make sure you can access your data anytime, anywhere. (Hint: ask about back-end mobile responsiveness.)
Do you operate across multiple countries? Ask about integrations that operate in those countries for tax, compliance, and banking purposes.
A lot of event management platforms are notoriously technical and hard to learn. Not only do you need to learn the software, with luck (i.e. lots of work!) you’ll also need to hire new team members as your company grows. Do you want to spend two months getting every new person up to speed?
We’ll be the first to tell you that field marketing isn’t the first thing most people think of when they think of events, simply because there often isn’t the traditional sending out of emails and gathering registrants, like you expect from a big conference or summit. But even if your event has no pre-registration whatsoever, you’re still going to massively benefit from an event management partner.
Many companies might not even realize that they’re locked into the traditional event mindset of one big keystone event per year … followed by eleven months of planning the next one. I’m afraid that’s super last century. One of the best ways to spread awareness not only of your brand, but of that big event, is to hold smaller events all year round, spread throughout your target marketing geography.
But, if you’re paying your event management platform extra for every event—and still extra for every registration—suddenly this doesn’t feel like the kind of marketing strategy you can pursue without a rock solid expectation of high ROI. And a big part of event marketing is trying new strategies! (Which, BTW, will pay off enormously when you suddenly have extra data to use when planning that one really big event.)
Enter Swoogo’s user-based pricing. We won’t charge you for each event or registration. Instead, you choose the size of your team, and pay an annual subscription that covers everything. There are some add-ons like advanced custom work and speaker management software, but even if you decide you need those, we’ll tell you right up front what they cost. We want you to be able to throw as many events as you want, and bring in as many attendees as you can get!
Two of the biggest words you hear event profs say in terms of field marketing is “cloneable” and “at scale.” A national or international brand will want to be able produce a similar event over and over throughout their marketing zone. But if you have to make your event from scratch each and every time, you’re going to rack up hours like whoa, and every single new element is suddenly at risk of a mistake. Instead, clone your event, keep all of your branding and content intact, then alter the elements that are specific for each event or location, and BAM, you’re good to go.
If you run a small or medium business cloning may not seem essential to you right now, but remember the tip above to plan for the future? If your field marketing takes off—as we hope it will—you may be looking down the barrel of doubling or tripling your field marketing events. That’s not the moment you want to start shopping for a new event management partner.
Our global customers love Swoogo’s cloning function and we’re continually working to improve it for them. Currently, you can clone events at the rate of six per minute. The whole, entire event. We’re pretty proud of our engineers for that one.
We have several national and international customers who work on a franchise model. You probably already know how important it is to keep brand standards both high and consistent. But, no one wants to feel like they’re attending an event hosted by a far-off monolith. That’s where localization comes in. With our user-based pricing, each branch of a franchise can access templates created and approved by the parent brand, and then customize literally any element of it to fit their local location. Are you sponsored by the neighborhood high school? No prob. Add their colors and mascot to your marketing emails, right next to your international trademark.
With Swoogo’s commitment to complete customization functionality, plus our user-based pricing, franchise management and localization are a snap.
If you’re an event prof then you almost certainly know that the industry standard for event management software is outsourced support with long lead times. At Swoogo, we think that’s out-of-date thinking, which is why we not only keep our customer support team in-house, we treat them like the superstars they are. Every single member of our support team has access, via Slack, to every employee in the company, the C-suite included. If they don’t know the answer to your question, they’ll find someone who does. We like to think of our support team as our customer ambassadors. Not many other event management platforms can say the same.
And if you weren’t taking advantage of this incredibly effective marketing strategy before the pandemic, now is the perfect time to jump in. If you were, then I don’t have to tell you how much the public is itching to have it back. You’re probably hearing that from your customers. We certainly are!
But it’s more than just back, it’s also revolutionizing in front of our eyes. So many of the traditional forms of marketing feel old and tired. But field marketing is new, and there’s such a huge range of possibilities. So get yourself an event management platform (we suggest … well, us!) that can help handle the myriad manual tasks, and set your imagination free. Because I think we’ve only seen the beginning of where field marketing is going to take us.