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Efficiency is defined in the context of field marketing as a higher experience-to-purchase ratio at a lower in-store demo production cost.

Gifts of Recession - Field Marketing

In the language of field marketing, efficiency means a higher experience-to-purchase ratio at a lower cost of in-store demo production.

Recessionary economic periods inevitably make us review our operational practices to find ways to do more with less and refocus on our business priorities. Unfortunately, when business leaders are under pressure, they often succumb to "slash and burn" instead of thinking about how to make their business more efficient in the future.

In marketing, efficiency involves increasing customer acquisition rates while reducing acquisition costs. In the language of field marketing, efficiency means a higher taste-to-purchase ratio at a lower cost of in-store demo production. While there are numerous paths to this goal, many of them conflict with one another, and striking the right balance may need some thought.

Gift 1: Who are the right people for the job? 

For example, consider that an experienced and well-trained brand ambassador will engage many more shoppers during an in-store sampling event and convert them into customers than a minimum-wage temp provided by a staffing agency. On the other hand, the hourly wage of experienced brand ambassadors and the cost of training may not justify the increased conversion rate they deliver.

That is where data* can provide much-needed clarity. An average brand ambassador with one year of in-store marketing experience engages and converts customers 83% more than an average temp, who costs 33% less per hour. Still, these numbers only tell part of the story: organizing, coordinating, and managing people with less experience takes much more time and effort. It makes no difference if these efforts are carried out by your employees or a staffing agency; the money comes from your marketing budget.

*Analysis of a data set collected from 2,398 demos conducted during the 4th quarter of 2022.

Gift 2 - What is more valuable: Administration or Selling?

Another opportunity to improve the efficiency of your customer engagement marketing strategy is to take a closer look at the overhead expenses associated with its administration. They include such costs as recruiting, onboarding, training, and managing brand ambassadors. If you outsource these efforts to your store sampling partners, their fees will consist of overhead expenses, often equal to or higher than the actual labor cost. Depending on the quality of their staff, the number of events you want to put on in a given period of time, and the area you want to cover, it may be a reasonable choice. Still, it will use up nearly half of your marketing budget without giving you a chance to improve.

When you hire, train, and manage your in-store field marketing staff, you have complete control over the quality of your team and the amount of money you spend on administration. It makes no difference whether they are workers or contractors. 

At least 50% of administrative efforts can be easily automated at a fraction of its cost with additional benefits not readily available now:

  1. More funds for getting more shoppers face time.
  2. More intelligence for making events much more effective.

Gift 3: Are you in the right stores?

During the "good times," growing CPG brands often use the "more is better" approach to get as much shelve space in as many stores as possible as quickly as possible. Recessionary periods force a more sober and focused approach. 

Are you engaging the right shoppers with your in-person marketing events?

Are you chasing the stores with too low or too high traffic?

Do you spend too much to reimburse travel time between the events?

The economic uncertainty period is the time to review available data and make a limited selling budget apply where and when it counts the most. When caught in a storm, the survival of your crew and boat is far more critical than the speed you sail with.

That means you only want to conduct demos in stores with healthy traffic on the days and times your best potential customers would likely attend your in-store sampling event. 

There are better strategies than throwing money against the wall to see what sticks in times of abundance. During periods of scarcity, it is suicidal.