Why face-to-face marketing is better than digital for building brand relationships

Why face-to-face marketing is better than digital for building brand relationships

Exhibition events have been around for over 160 years. Believe it or not, it was London’s Hyde Park that housed the very first trade show: The Great Exhibition. It was the first of its type and it got all of the best products in front of an interested audience.

Brands still use exhibitions to launch new products, gain leads, increase visibility, and build relationships. For this, trade shows remain the number one face-to-face marketing tool.

Digital marketing is thriving but can our interaction with screens take the place of face-to-face communication? And should you still allocate a percentage of your marketing budget to exhibitions?

One hotel in Japan replaced all its staff with robots in an attempt to use technology and develop efficient business practice. It soon became clear that technology isn’t the immediate answer when it comes to improving business efficiency. The Japanese hotel ended up sacking half of its robot employees because they kept breaking down.

The concern is that technology has occasionally caused us problems: people have lost jobs and we often feel we just can’t trust it yet. Marketers using technology also struggle to convey tone, emotion, or attitude, which is an essential tool for building relationships.

The value of face-to-face for brands

Using face-to-face platforms, such as exhibitions, has several benefits for a brand. Firstly, it builds trust between the company and its customers. Trust, which the digital uprising quickly stripped away, can be restored with human interaction. Face-to-face communication is not only the best way to avoid misunderstandings and correct problems it’s also a logical explanation as to why customers have confidence in it.

Secondly, face-to-face marketing builds visibility. Over half of all people use ad-blocking software, meaning they will not see any online advertising you invest in.

Human interaction puts you and your employees at the forefront of your advertising campaign. Studies have also shown that face-to-face marketing increases the likelihood of your customers spreading positive word of mouth.

Expos are more influential than a TV ad

Anyone who is looking to boost brand awareness, launch a new product, gain leads or leverage marketing results should include expos in their marketing mix. As many as 93% of people claim that live events have a greater influence on them than TV adverts. Exhibiting at consumer and trade shows should be considered whatever your business objectives are. Attending an event allows you to:

  • Reach out to an international market
  • Meet new buyers
  • Increase sales
  • Demonstrate your products and services
  • Show products in action in their real environment
  • Provide a launch event for new products and innovation
  • Strengthen business relationships in a face-to-face environment
  • First-hand research and understanding of your marketplace
  • Network and make new industry contacts.

Events lead to visitor-generated digital content

Exhibitions don’t stop your business from having an online presence. Research shows 98% of attendees create digital or social content at exhibitions and 48% of millennials admit to attending an event solely to gather social media and digital content.

By exhibiting at trade shows you can gain electronic word of mouth (eWOM). People trust people more than machines. By getting people to talk about you, you are effectively marketing your business using both a face-to-face strategy and an eWOM strategy.

Natalka Antoniuk

Technology plays a key role

Ultimately, digital technology and exhibitions work best together. Without digitalisation, exhibitions would not be as effective as they are. People book tickets and register their interest online. During the event, technology allows you to scan attendee barcodes to instantly capture their details. Finally, it is the advanced technology built into the stand and the design process that makes exhibiting so valuable.

Digital plays an important role in face-to-face marketing, particularly when looking at trade shows. The digital elements of your exhibition can be the difference between your business gaining hundreds of leads or being completely forgotten.

Attendees have been very clear about what they want: memorable experiences. Moving forward, businesses and designers are going to have to work together to ensure the audience is captivated in their fairy tale. Introducing technology means that you can make this experience completely immersive, guaranteeing that each delegate is going away talking about you.