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Trade Shows: A Gateway to Successful Face-to-Face Marketing

 


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Marketing in the 21st century

Today, electronics are a normal aspect of daily living. Most people wake up to alarms set on their phone, which they later use to check the time; an e-mail; the weather; a text message; the news; a phone call; and the list continues and repeats itself. With electronics, literally, always at our fingertips, the age of the internet is blossoming at an impressive rate, and the information that is just a click away is always growing.

Only a few years ago, the rate at which one received information and, at times, was bombarded with information, was unbelievable and overwhelming. But, as humans do, we have adapted and learned how to effectively utilize the information available and how to actively acknowledge (or ignore) information we encounter. In fact, most people never completely stop sending and receiving information – even after the workday. Some may complain that the advances in technology have blurred the line between the office and everywhere else, but often overlook the benefits it has brought to business.

So, what has the electronic age done? Marketing has advanced from – what I see as - passive to active. It is much easier to interact on a daily basis with clients in the same city, 2,000 miles away, or on the other side of the globe. Print material is frequently replaced by Facebook, Twitter, articles, and blogs. This “social media” marketing allows fast and accurate updates to be shared with a much larger audience base. Social media marketing presents an opportunity for companies to present information and ideas on a broader range of aspects related to their industry, which expands the possible ways to attract potential clients.

It doesn’t stop there. The internet is open to all and shared by all. Therefore, the information your company made public is also shared by your audience with their audience and so on. Your company name is out there being actively passed around and searched for on the internet. This enables people to find YOU when they want the service(s) YOU offer.

What does it all mean? In the 21stcentury, many times clients will approach YOU instead of vice versa. As well, the tasks to maintain client relations can be done by less people with the aid of phone calls, e-mails, and social media sites. Overall, it seems that technology has made it easier to attract and maintain relationships, allows information about your company to be shared in multiple ways, and opens new areas of influence to be reached by your company.

So, what’s missing?

The “I LIKE you and TRUST you” Factor

Electronics make the internet seemingly indispensable, which allows advertising to be actively passed along more avenues and across a larger audience. But, as social media marketing tools are quickly catching hold, an old (but EXTREMELY important) tool is often overlooked: face-to-face interaction.

Face-to-face interaction may seem “slow” and “old” – especially to the new generation of Sales and Marketing professionals – but it’s really the best and most proven way to put a face with a name. And what is better for your brand?

Your internet marketing may capture leads, but it won’t necessarily convert the leads. This isn’t to discourage the use of phone calls and e-mails especially in a growing global business environment. Nonetheless, many businesses operating globally will bear the expenses necessary to visit international clients because of the importance of face-to-face interaction. So why should it be different with domestic clients?

Face-to-Face marketing allows for business relationships to develop and your client to realize they like and trust you. When they like and trust you, they like and trust the services provided by your company. In fact, Meeting Professionals International released a report that concluded 40% of new customers were developed through face-to-face interaction, while 28% of current business would be lost without face-to-face interaction. (www.mpiweb.org/Libraries/NTA-Reports/Meetings_Deliver.pdf )

Trade Shows: A Face-to-Face Marketing Campaign

Although my professional career is still in its beginning stages, I have experienced the hesitation of incorporating face-to-face marketing and sales techniques. It appears that professionals have become accustomed to social media marketing and electronic communication except when interacting with well established client relationships. What about new clients?

Instead of viewing face-to-face marketing as a tool that you need to incorporate the same way as social media marketing, utilize face-to-face marketing as a specific company marketing campaign. For instance, you could establish a marketing campaign targeted towards current clients, potential clients, or both.

OTC: An Example

Only a few months away is the annual Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas. The Offshore Industry’s leading event is a great opportunity for a company’s face-to-face marketing campaign.

Despite the fact that we can take technology where we go, often Sales and Marketing Professionals find themselves in the office answering phone calls and e-mails and not getting a real opportunity to go meet the client. The issue is often exacerbated by clients being busy and accustomed to electronic modes of communication. A trade show, like OTC, can offer a solution to both of those problems.

As an exhibitor at a trade show, your company is actively providing information to those interested in your service(s) and allows you the opportunity to visit with your clients within the industry. Moreover, your clients – if attending the event – have made the time to learn about what is happening in the industry, share what is happening with their company, and listen to how you can help.

Additionally, think of the opportunities available to you monthly to meet a potential client you have never interacted with? With over 2,000 companies exhibiting, and 50,000 industry professionals attending OTC, there are countless opportunities to begin business communications through face-to-face interaction. That means, they already have a face to put with your company name making the like and trust factor quicker and easier to reach.

The Tradeshow Check List

Be sure you adequately use the marketing tools at your disposal to advertise your presence at your industry event, but remember advertising doesn’t mean client growth. Actively engaging with others is needed to successfully grow your business. You need to be willing to take advantage of the face-to-face marketing environment your company is a part of at your trade show event.

According to “Face-to-Face Marketing: Why it Matters Now More than Ever”, an article by John Backstrom, there are 5 keys to successful face-to-face marketing all of which can be easily achieved at one event:

  1. Plan: Who, What, Where, How, When?
  2. Right Opportunities: An opportunity to meet and speak with people about your services or remind them of your services.
  3. Presence: Face-to-face marketing: who are you? what services do you provide?
  4. Follow up & evaluate: Visit clients, send a follow-up e-mail or phone call.
  5. Good partner: Someone devoted to your industry and interested in your services.

Using the above criteria, consider what your company needs to do to have a successfull face-to-face marketing campaign. With planning and organization, a trade show event can adequately meet your needs for both current and potential clients.

Be sure to learn more about OTC and investigate the trade show opportunities available to your industry.

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