The marketing ecosystem and its functions is an essential part of any successful organization. But oftentimes, marketing is also somewhat shrouded in mystery. Everyone knows you need it, but not everyone knows what it is or how to successfully execute any strategy that is created.
One of the contributing factors to this issue is that terms are often used interchangeably when they don’t, in fact, mean the same thing. This can lead to confusion and misaligned expectations for marketing efforts. One area where we commonly see this misuse of terms is with event planning and field marketing.
From the outside, people tend to see a similar result and assume that they are the same thing. But in reality, they are actually opposing functions. But what makes them so different and how can we tell them apart? How can we choose which one is actually necessary for our organization (maybe both are)? Let’s set the record straight about field marketing versus event planning.
Field Marketing and its Functions
Field marketing, as a function of an organization, has the primary goal of creating a vision, setting objectives, and developing strategies that they then execute to enable the sales team to meet or exceed their number of leads or sales figures. Field marketing, in its purest form, is characterized by the following:
- Collaboration with the development organizations for each product to find ways to bundle the products into solutions that resonated in the marketplace.
- Partnering with the sales team to build a marketing plan to support the business. This Marketing Plan took into account the differences in territories, industries, compensation plans, the number of reps ramped plus account and market penetration goals. The more detailed, the better.
- Assembling a shared service model for task-specific expertise: database, automation, metrics, email, webinars, events, social media, references, market analysis, competitive analysis, digital assets, and more. This shared team is staffed with seasoned professionals with many years of cumulative experience in their field.
Over time, this model became watered-down and the function of field marketers turned into event planning. It’s not to say that event planning is not part of the equation but it is only one piece of the field marketing puzzle.
Event Planning and its Functions
The core difference between event planning and field marketing is that event planning generally has a focus toward generating leads rather than executing on any way to nurture those leads or sales enablement (both core functions of field marketing).
Field marketing is diluted into event planning when the following happens within an organization:
- Junior-level people are brought in to lead teams/strategy.
- Execution timelines are short – generally 30-90 days.
- Lead-generation is the sole focus – no nurturing or process in place to create an actual sale.
- Compensation is not tied to revenue.
There are more signs that a field marketing team/position is actually more of an event planning one but these are the tell-tale symptoms. Again, it’s important to emphasize that event planning is an important function of an organization but it will not lead to the results that a field marketing role will.
How to Spot the Differences
There are several ways you can tell the difference between a field marketing and event planning role. As a professional, you can use these differences to your advantage as you look for a new position, restructure your current organization, or lead marketing efforts.
- If the main KPI is related to leads, then it’s probably event planning.
- When a plan is in place for lead flow (or user flow), it’s likely got more strategy behind it, making it a field marketing function.
- Time lag and close rate are also terms that denote field marketing. Any time you are aware of the time it takes to convert a lead into a sale or what your rate of closing those sales are you imply that there is a process behind the marketing effort.
These cues can help you better understand what type of function you are dealing with – whether it’s your own role or that of a third party organization you are looking to bring into the mix. Understanding the differences can lead to better ROI for your marketing dollars.