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Field Marketing: The Last or First Mile?

March 05, 2013 | By Meta Karagianni

When we talk about field marketers who sit in different countries, it is not unusual to refer to them as the “last mile” to indicate that they represent the execution muscle of an organization’s marketing strategies and programs.

When we talk about field marketers who sit in different countries, it is not unusual to refer to them as the “last mile” to indicate that they represent the execution muscle of an organization’s marketing strategies and programs.

But when we refer to field marketers as the “last mile,” is there an implicit assumption that strategies, programs and decisions are “coming down” to them? This may be true especially for the old type of field marketing that focused on executing events and providing sales support.

However, as discussed in my previous post “The Evolution of Field Marketing in EMEA,” the field marketing function in many organizations is undergoing a fundamental transformation. The field marketer is becoming a strategic business partner, owning the local marketing strategy while maintaining excellence in execution.

Stepping up to own and drive the local marketing strategy means that the future field marketer will sit at the decisionmaking table. And in that case, I keep wondering: are field marketers the last or first mile?

This is not a play on words, but an important re-orientation. For example, I recently discussed with an EMEA CMO of a leading global organization how his team is now striving to design marketing campaigns and programs with the point of execution as the primary focus right from the start and throughout the planning process.

Now, let me be clear and avoid a potential misunderstanding: Don’t associate this re-orientation with restructuring exercises and power struggles. Best-in-class organizations work as an ecosystem with clear roles and responsibilities for each function and appropriate interlocks and resources in place to make that ecosystem effective.

Focusing on the required re-orientation from a skills perspective, two important skills surfaced from my discussions with EMEA marketing leaders: first, internal stakeholder management, meaning that field marketers should proactively communicate the impact (not the tactics) of their initiatives, and should be good at developing their own personal networks and interlocks; and second, the ability to resourcefully commission internal resources and get what they need to execute their local programs.

These skills are not easily found in the old type of field marketer, who is largely focused on events and is indeed operating as the last mile of execution. Stay tuned, as we are researching the skill map of the future field marketer and will soon be able to share more insights into this area.

Meta Karagianni

Meta Karagianni is Service Director, European CMO Strategies, at SiriusDecisions. Before joining SiriusDecisions, she spent several years working closely with CMOs and commercial leaders in Europe and South Africa, providing strategic advice and implementation support across critical decision areas. As a practitioner, Meta led marketing teams in Europe. She started her career as a strategy/marketing consultant. Meta lives in London.

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