Behind every successful mobile activation – from a one-off sampling event to a full-fledged tour – is a team of field marketing professionals working together to exceed client expectations. A pioneer of experiential, Switch has been sending teams into the wild for decades. We know what qualities to look for in field crew, and that insight influences how we source, train and lead team members.

High-Level View of a Program Manager

Let’s look specifically at the role of Program Manager (PM). This individual is the crew’s office contact, organizing logistics, brand ambassador placement and event scheduling. But that’s only the beginning. The PM also serves as an extra hand when one is needed, overseeing the crew and occasionally traveling to events. All required paperwork (timesheets, credit card reconciliation, per diem, etc.) is handled by the PM as well.

I’ve spent enough time in and out of the field to recognize which qualities and behaviors are exhibited by successful PMs. It’s their job to see a client’s activation through, from early stages of defining the program’s parameters to the final moments on the road. But more than that, they need to understand the impact of their leadership and responsibilities. Below are a few characteristics of a reputable, responsible PM:

  • Exceptional organization. The PM often has direct communication with the client, in addition to managing a field team. They are constantly juggling hats, answering questions and ensuring the program is moving along as planned. If a PM cannot stay organized with their tasks, deadlines and even spreadsheets, essential details might slip through the cracks.
  • Willingness to travel. No, PMs don’t always get the luxury of flying. Their job is to activate the project within budget – so sometimes that means driving a tractor-trailer across states.
  • Realistic expectations. Although a PM may have graduated to a managerial role ­­­­– perhaps in an office – he or she is not exempt from weekend work obligations. PMs may very well might have to spend their Saturday and Sunday working an activation. After all, their job is to manage the program.
  • Ownership of budget. As program manager, part of the job is to be fiscally responsible with the client’s marketing dollars. PMs should always try to save some money for the project, such as by bidding on vendor costs to secure the most competitive price.
  • Enforcing DOT Compliance. Although the DOT department handles the gritty details of DOT Compliance, it’s still the PM’s role to check that vehicle(s) have the proper paperwork (registration, insurance card, fuel card, etc.). Additionally, PMs have to ensure the crew follows the strict DOT regulations when operating company vehicles.
  • Excellent communication skills. Especially on prolonged activations or tours, a field crew can feel underappreciated without sufficient communication from their supervisor – the PM. Consistent communication is crucial for a happy, positive crew. Plus – their attitudes are reflected in the work.

Regardless of title or experience, field marketing is “all hands on deck.” We all have a part in bringing a client’s activation to life in the field – and that requires equal effort from all team members.

Even as I was typing this post, a fellow program manager asked about my availability in September. (I jokingly said, “That’s none of your business!” and then invited them to pencil me in to help out.) That brings me to the one essential characteristic across all field marketing job titles: being a team player.

If you’re interested in knowing more about how Switch can activate your mobile marketing initiatives with a team of motivated, efficient marketers – send a note to