What's the value of face-to-face, physical events versus other methods of marketing? The research I've seen on the topic is sketchy and academic. One study I read was laden with professorial gobbledygook, but I did manage to find the bottom line:
Face-to-face communication plays a major role in establishing trust between buyers and suppliers.
More impressive to me than studies are real-world experiences of business executives. Face-to-face interactions have always been powerful catalysts for selling. Here are two quotes I found in a recent healthcare industry publication:
- “What’s nice about face-to-face meetings is it allows you to create trust much quicker and, by establishing the trust, it allows the individual the opportunity to ask questions. Our customers can ask us questions about our business and our processes and we can do the same.” -- Walter Governor, national director of sales, Ottobock.
- “Watering plants keeps them alive, but rain really makes them grow. I think face-to-face communication is like the rain. It really makes relationships flourish with its multiple forms of communication. Electronic communication focuses simply on the verbal message, which may keep relationships alive, but does not expand them.” -- Gerald Stark, vice president of education and product development, The Fillauer Companies Inc.
Notice the words I’ve put in boldface: trust (three times) and relationships (twice). Now, let’s connect the dots between those words and another powerful word: brand.
“What’s Your Brand Worth?” is the title of a fascinating post by McKinsey principal David Edelman, an expert in digital marketing, branding, and customer lifecycle management. From his views and a colleague’s presentation he cited, we learn:
- Trust is the foundation for building relationships, brands and reputation.
- Trust and respect happen at a company level, not a product level. What you stand for is more important to buyers than what you sell. Their willingness to buy and recommend is driven 60 percent by their perceptions of a company and only 40 percent by their perceptions of its products.
So, to repeat, face-to-face interactions drive sales. Yes, customers are drawn to events to learn about industry trends and how your products solve their problems. But more importantly, they come to your events to interact with your people and experience your company. That’s what seals the deal – and the icing on the cake is, it bolsters your brand, too.