What is field marketing? A Guide to the sharpest weapon in a B2B CMO’s playbook

November 30, 2020

Meisha Bochicchio, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Goldcast

Field marketers are more than glorified event coordinators. Here’s how to empower field marketing at your B2B tech company and generate more revenue with every online event.

If you’ve ever wondered what field marketing is, you’re not alone. It has varying definitions across companies, industries and verticals, which can make it pretty tough to fit into a single black-and-white definition.

Field marketers focus on forging personal connections with your audience, using experiential marketing to generate interest in your services, products and brand. You’ve likely experienced field marketing yourself by attending an online or in-person summit, roundtable, or meet-up.

But field marketers are more than glorified event coordinators.

They enable your audience to visualize an improved version of their lives with your product in it, helping to seal the deal in their minds long before finalising it on paper. But without clear KPIs and a firm seat at the table, the real ROI of field marketing often goes unmeasured—resulting in a major missed opportunity for any growth-focused team.

In this guide, we’ll dive into what field marketing is in the post-2020 world and provide proven tips for fast-tracking your growth by tapping into one of the most overlooked areas in the B2B go-to-market playbook.

Here’s what we’ll cover

•    What is field marketing? (and why it’s so crucial)

•    How should you define field marketing at your company?

•     A winning B2B field marketing strategy for the road ahead

What is field marketing? (and why it’s so crucial)

The definition of field marketing will vary depending on who you ask.
This is especially true in the world of B2B where a single purchase involves an average of 6.8 stakeholders coming from “a lengthening roster of roles, functions, and geographies,” according to Harvard Business Review.

When discussing “what is field marketing,” you’ll find that some people believe field marketing is simply sales support. Others view field marketing as direct selling at events like trade shows, roadshows, and pop-ups. And still others see it as the one-stop-shop for all your prospects’ needs—from registering for an online webinar to kickstarting the sales process with a white glove demo.

No matter which way you cut it, field marketing is crucial to your ability to connect with current and future customers.

But until field marketing can prove itself as a revenue-generator, and not merely a support role, B2B field marketers will continue to struggle to win the buy-in they need to drive greater innovation and profit.

And it’s kinda ironic.

Because the truth is, most B2B tech companies already spend anywhere from 25-40% of the budget on marketing events with the goal of generating or accelerating pipeline opportunities.

Clearly, field marketing has been important for a while now.

Add in a global health pandemic, and what you now have is a true match point for field marketing managers—a moment for them to step up and own their value. Because in a time where we’re all starved for human connection, your customers are depending on you to show up better, stronger and more consistently than ever before.

In fact, virtual events have risen by a staggering 1,000% during the pandemic, symbolising a whole new era of B2B marketing in which online events are no longer an option, but a must.

The good news is, with the right field marketing solutions, launching digital events will automatically make the data from these campaigns both attributable and actionable—unlocking more pipeline opportunities and tracing those directly back to the hard work field marketers put in.

How should you define field marketing at your B2B company? (And what is a field marketer?)

Spoiler alert: There’s no hard-and-fast answer to this question.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, field marketing in one business can look starkly different than in another—and that’s ok.

The key is to ensure that, no matter how you’re defining (or redefining) the role of field marketing manager, everyone knows exactly what their responsibilities are and where those tasks might intersect with your other revenue-focused departments.

Let’s break it down, function by function.

Field marketers vs. demand generation

More often than not, field marketing sits within the demand gen team. The differentiator really comes into play when it’s time to go beyond awareness-building to digging deeper into the middle and bottom of the funnel. This is where field marketing really shines. By taking ownership of the pipeline and updating the sales team on account-specific opportunities, field marketers wear multiple, crucial hats at the same time.

Field marketers vs. ABM

Grasping what is field marketing can lead to confusion, particularly with its relation to ABM. Field marketing isn’t ABM. But ABM is critical for making it a successful endeavor. Account based marketing (ABM) helps field marketers identify and prioritize key accounts by monitoring their unique needs and engagement with the brand. They then use these insights to personalize all your marketing and sales touch-points, from direct mail and digital ads to account-specific ebooks and chatbots.

Field marketers vs. sales

In a way, field marketing is to sales what Dr. Watson is to Sherlock. If field marketing is the co-detective responsible for unearthing account-specific intent to purchase, sales is the lead investigator who will go in, put the pieces together and solve the prospect’s problem, complete with signed agreement. 🕵️♀️✔️

When field marketing, demand generation and sales teams own their individual roles and leverage the power of ABM, they become an unstoppable trifecta for any fast-track growth team.

How much of a field marketer’s job description deals with events?

In our endeavour to untangle the grey area around field marketing, we’ve connected with hundreds of leading field marketers across North America. One of our favourite insights so far comes from 25+ year field marketing veteran and Head of Field Marketing at Autodesk Construction, Sara Rohlfing:

“In field marketing, you have this unique position where you are a little bit dotted line to the sales team and a lot dotted line to the marketing team.”

What exactly goes into those dotted lines? And how much of it is focused on events?

Part of what makes field marketing so difficult to demystify is that it touches multiple revenue functions across the business—and events are a big part of it. But they’re certainly not the only part.

On any given day, field marketers can be found doing any (or all!) of the following tasks:

Demand Generation

  • Working closely with stakeholders to develop the strategy, execute, and optimize comprehensive marketing initiatives that create demand
  • Managing campaigns throughout the lead lifecycle from awareness and lead generation, to nurture and sales acceleration
  • Telling the brand story by creating various types of content, including emails, landing pages, webinars, case studies, and blog posts
  • Working in multiple marketing channels, including (but not limited to) digital, media, email, paid and non-paid social media, and monitoring and reporting on result

Account-Level Metrics + Engagement

  • Qualifying and managing leads by providing specific content for nurture campaigns and reaching out to leads directly when needed
  • Setting up programs in tools like Marketo, Hubspot and more, to track results and route leads to sales
  • Monitoring account-level engagement and campaign metrics and 
  • Supporting and executing account-based strategies and programs

Event Marketing

  • Planning, implementing and tracking virtual and in-person events
  • Setting goals and defining metrics for each event including targeted lead flow to maximize pipeline generation and acceleration
  • Monitoring event metrics, conducting post-event evaluations, analyzing and reporting results making recommendations for optimization
  • Evaluating 3rd party opportunities and building vendor relationships to drive market penetration
  • Managing the event marketing budget
  • Continuously bringing new revenue-driving ideas to the table

A results-oriented field marketer won’t just have an event plan as an offshoot of another task or campaign, they’ll have a full-fledged event marketing strategy designed to build a firm foundation for all other demand gen and ABM activities. The only question after that is, how do they measure the success of their field marketing strategies?

New-school event KPIs for modern field marketers

“Overall, field marketing as a concept hasn't changed,” says Risa Peterson, Head of Field Marketing, North America at ThoughtSpot. “It is the delivery method that has had to adapt.”

Risa and her team stay busy creating virtual experiences that mimic a live experience, linking arms with high-profile partners like Harvard Business Review and The Economist to combine thought leadership content with experiential events like virtual wine/beer tastings, cooking classes and C-level roundtables.

“Incorporating direct mail, virtual, and video helps to recreate the in-person experience with a new flare. Sometimes, these experiences can feel even more personal,” explains Risa. Sounds great. But the question remains: As a field marketer, how do you measure your success with event marketing?

Here are some of the core KPIs today’s top tier field marketers use to track their performance.

Demand Gen Metrics

  • List of qualified attendees and their companies, job titles, geographies, etc.
  • Number of registrations (make sure they’re from the right target audience!)
  • Actual attendance numbers
  • Time on event (the goal is to keep attendees on as long as possible)
  • How on-demand assets perform over time
  • Actions taken on post-event bite-size content

Account-Level Metrics

  • Number of VIP attendees coming to the event (e.g., important leads, customers, etc.)
  • Real-time engagement (e.g., questions asked, polls taken, content downloaded during the event, etc.)
  • Engagement with on-demand content for post-consumption 
  • Total engagement score for each attendee (time in session, content downloaded post-event, questions asked, polls completed, etc.)

Pipeline Metrics

  • Prospect stage of each attendee (lead, prospect, MQL, SQL or customer)
  • Percentage of each type of prospect attending the event
  • Percentage of customers attending the event
  • Minute-by-minute attendance rates (including best sessions and drop off areas)
  • Number of private discussions with VIP attendees
  • Conversions into a qualified lead
  • Conversions to number of qualified meetings
  • Pipeline (both sourced and influenced)
  • Closed-won opportunities
  • Closed-won revenue

And we couldn’t agree more.

As marketing teams look for more ways to tie their initiatives back to revenue, they’ll need smart, user-friendly solutions that can translate their tasks and responsibilities into dollars and cents.

A winning B2B field marketing strategy for the road ahead

An empowered B2B field marketing team is the hidden key to making your GTM strategy a success.

In order to unlock massive revenue growth, you’ll need to be ready to challenge the status quo. Redefine the role of field marketers within your organization and give them as much agency and autonomy as you can.

When you’re able to shift your focus and start seeing field marketers as the true growth levers that they are, you’ll be able to access new streams of revenue you never thought possible.

Ready for a virtual event platform that gives you real ROI? 

Goldcast was purpose built for results-focused field marketers. Our all-in-one virtual event platform helps you showcase your unique brand, host large audiences through keynotes, fireside chats and speaker panels, and gives you real-time data on how your prospects are engaging with your business. 

Stop pinning your hopes on post-event debriefings and start transforming your virtual events into revenue.

Book a free demo today and see how just easy it can be!

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