In a world where the tap of a finger on a screen provides more information about a brand than the average human can process in a day, why bother with physical events? Can’t everything simply be done online?
Well of course, it can. Customers can research the market, companies and products, before making a purchasing decision, all without any human interaction. However, there is nothing quite like the human touch, which is why so many consumers do their initial research online, then visit a physical store to try out/touch/experience the product and ask questions, before purchasing online. In a business-to-business context, it is at the experiential level that the corporate event fits in.
We all know that business people face ever increasing time pressures, and the days of the long boozy lunch or regular corporate jolly have gone the way of the dinosaurs. However, people still want to do business with someone they know and can identify with.
Research by Harvard Business Review in 2009[i] showed that 95% of respondents said face-to-face meetings are key to both successful long-term relationships and to building strong relationships. A similar more recent study[ii] nudges that figure up to 96%.
Events allow direct communication, on your terms
With less frequent face-to-face contact, events provide an increasingly important opportunity to see and talk to customers directly: to present, and represent, your brand in your own way and on your own terms.
When virtually everything is available online, and your (potential) customer receives almost all of his or her brand messaging through a screen, events give companies the chance to build a personal connection, to interact and develop relationships. They are the time to develop and reward customer loyalty, to demonstrate the personality of the company in a meaningful and remarkable way, to educate and to build the foundations of trust and create brand ambassadors. Events can also make it easier to overcome product issues and objections, or simply misunderstandings.
Events motivate, internally and externally
Of course, events are not just about external benefits. They provide a chance to motivate your internal teams, and can act as a focal point, besides delivering internal and external PR material. They also provide an invaluable learning opportunity: a chance to gather data to feedback into the business and gain a deeper understanding of your customers. Events allow you to see in action how well your messages are received and understood, what works and what doesn’t, to find out from the horse’s mouth what people really think about you – and your competition.
Provided that they are done well and thoughtfully, events are a cost-effective way of gathering qualified leads. A disclaimer: this is only true as long as you do something with the leads generated. If they end up ‘in a shoebox under my desk’, that is not cost-effective.
Of course, creating a memorable, remarkable and impactful event that delivers successful outcomes is an entire topic of its own, which we’ll explore in a future blog. But, if you decide that an event is the answer to your business’ specific requirements, consider calling in professional help to ensure you bring your business brand to life, LIVE.