Why consumer marketers always do field visits- and digital marketers should too

Field Visit Questions for Digital Marketers-StratoServe
If you noticed, all consumer marketers do market field visits-all the time.

Let’s say that a CMO or a marketer turned CEO is in town for a board meeting. You’ll find that CMO making the rounds of retailers and distributors. This after getting all those market research and insights syndicated reports. These reports break down estimated sales down to the case level for all competitors as well. In addition, media reports give all the advanced data analytics- including key metric cockpits. For those familiar with Sherlock Holmes and his brother Mycroft Holmes,  the parallel between the field visiting “see for yourself” marketer and the “analytics only” marketer is interesting.You would think that today with all the data, there is really no need for marketers  to do diligent fieldwork like Sherlock and get decision insights following the laid back Mycroft approach!

But just as “human intelligence”  and “boots on the ground” is so important in the military. So in marketing.

Amazingly, high powered marketers with billion dollar marketing budgets, take the time and effort to talk to a small retailer. Often in distant global markets. When asked, they explain that the insight from personally seeing how the brand is doing on the ground is revealing.

When one food product CMO saw that the brand carton was presented damaged on the retail shelf he took quick action. He instantly charged the packaging folks to review the corrugated board specs for the outer cartons. The higher packaging cost with stronger outer cartons would protect the individual “brand”cartons and help the brand image. Because no consumer really picks up a damaged carton out of choice. “Advertising can do its brand building job better, if the carton is not battered” the CMO explained.

The surprise about the above field visit is that the number of damaged /unsold cartons was getting reported anyway. Let’s say a  low number like 0.01% returns due to carton damage. Hey, that’s only one in ten thousand!  So what is the value of a field visit? Field visits gives the sense that many more cartons are “bent” and  and slightly deformed. A better outer packaging solves the problem. At pretty low cost and helps the millions spent in advertising do a better job in brand building.

Similarly, digital marketers must take the time to visit the field. Here is a confession:

Every time we do field visits we find that at least some of our assumptions about the client’s customer experience and fulfillment process were ………………………wrong!

Three questions to ask to make field visits more productive are:

  1. Is there a massive disconnect between website pictures and the “real” thing?  We have all experienced great web pictures and disappointing products when you actually get them. Exceeding customer expectations is always better for business.
  2. What is the fulfillment process? This one applies to both products and services. It’s important for the digital marketer to understand this. If it takes 5-7 days, say so on the web. If you are marketing a service (eg. construction) that takes weeks- break it down to the various phases and mention timelines that are realistic.
  3. What are customers really thinking? Just talking with customers reveals so much about their goals and aspirations. And these are far beyond what “keyword tools” can tell you in search or social media advertising.

To summarize, the digital world disconnects the marketer from the real world. A reality check through field visits can keep campaigns relevant to what matters most. Customers. About StratoServe Digital Marketing Services.