In the UK, there is an apparent row (fight) between agencies and practioners of so-called experiential marketing, and those who feel that these guys should stay in the realm of field marketing. Far be it for me to get involved with the brewings over the pond.
The relative arguments on both sides have been played out regularly in the trade press, but the problem is essentially one of definition. Field marketing is defined not by the activity agencies undertake, but by the way in which their business is conducted – it is the use of staff to represent a brand ‘in the field’, a concept that has grown to cover a disparate set of activities. Experiential work is just one way field staff can be used; there are also more traditional field marketing activities such as retail audits, merchandising and direct sales.
That’s a good one. How about this:
The issue the industry faces is that a significant number of agencies believe they have developed brand experience work into a marketing discipline in its own right. They emphasise its creative, brand-building role compared with the technology-driven activity of agencies whose focus is to ensure brand visibility and availability.
So true. So true. And this:
It is no surprise that some traditional field marketers are reluctant to see experiential become a specialist activity, as it is a sector that has caught the attention of clients eager to find a way to engage with consumers as traditional media fragment. The past year has seen leading FMCG firms experiment with the medium in campaigns. While some in the industry dispute whether total spend on face-to-face activity has risen, few deny that there has been a shift of budget from basic sampling to more sophisticated brand experience work. Many specialist agencies have seen significant growth in turnover over the past year and are bullish about their outlook.
That’s good news for us, folks! But I digress:
The issue of return on investment (ROI) is another point of difference between the traditional agencies and the experiential specialists. According to CPM’s Hughes, ROI is old news for traditional field marketing agencies, which need effective models in place just to compete. In contrast, proving return on a client’s investment is still very much a live issue among the specialist experiential shops, in part because objectives such as building loyalty or changing perceptions of a brand are more difficult qualities to measure and turn into hard sales data. This will be crucial if brand experience is to grow in the long term….The problem is that, although clients are asking for proof of return, there is no agreed method of measuring it.