Increasingly, face-to-face exchanges and networking is becoming of greater significance at expos in spite of the growing popularity of online communication and virtual events. Studies reveal that though virtual events and other technologies are growing popular, few marketing methods can compete with the potential of expos. By combining exposure to prospective leads with the ability to network with existing customers, Expos offer an experience for both businesses and attendees that other forms of marketing cannot. Often under-utilized, expos offer the perfect platform to nurture customer relationships, grow industry knowledge and develop cost-effective leads.
Each attendee at an expo is a potential lead waiting to be captured. Effective networking during Expos can help build relationships that turn into profitable referrals. Successful networking can help raise the brands’ profile, connect businesses to customers, find investments, establish partnerships and connect new suppliers. Conversely, 40 percent of prospects, and 28 percent of current business would be lost without face-to-face meetings (according to a Meeting Professionals International report).
Forbes undertook an interesting study some years back which revealed that people found face-to-face interaction more persuasive and trustworthy than interaction via the Internet by a margin of 80 percent. Face-to-face meetings were preferred where there was a fluid decision-making process that required the give-and-take typically needed for complex decisions and sales. It comes as no surprise therefore, that a typical B2B marketer’s single largest budget item continues to be expos and event marketing – averaging 20% of its total marketing budget, (according to a Forrester study). That’s bigger than what they spend on digital marketing (13%), content marketing (12%) or their websites (8%).
Business buyers consistently rate Expos and Exhibitions as a key source of information about new products and solutions. A recent study from Bredin rated Expos and events as the second most-cited source of new product and new vendor information – after peers and colleagues – among small- to medium-sized business owners. Expos enable face-to-face interaction that help form strong bonds that lead to long-lasting business relationships, while virtual events and communications ensure that prospects and customers are kept engaged year-round.
At its core, networking and face-to-face meetings create a strong personal connection and builds trust between a company and its customers and stakeholders. However, relying on merely networking and face-to-face meetings is not enough and weaving virtual marketing elements into the marketing strategy is essential.
Although both face-to-face and virtual strategies offer strong benefits, savvy marketers are building integrated communications plans that marry the benefits of both approaches. Adding virtual elements can measurably enhance and extend audience engagement resulting from traditional events. However, it is important to plan and coordinate online efforts, just as you would your face-to-face events as each element affects the audience’s experience with the brand.
Getting to know customers and prospects on an individual level can help form stronger, more meaningful, and more profitable business relationships.
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“Nurturing relationships essential for B2B sales success”