Face to Face
Don’t Lose the Personal Touch in B2B Marketing
It’s a content marketing world, and everyone’s trying like heck to get their high-value content in front of prospective customers. And for good reason. With buyers more or less in control of the buying process, placing great content in front of customers that can help or educate them makes sense.
Digital tools and platforms have made it easy (too easy?) to deliver your message or story at very little expense. Email nurturing. Tweets. Instagram posts. Programmatic advertising. Texting. Marketing automation. Marketers have fallen in love with digital channels and all of the great engagement metrics that come with them. But now that seemingly everyone is engaged in digital content marketing, how is a marketer to stand out from all the noise? Here’s my big idea.
Try a Conversation
Conversation Marketing. Go ahead. Hashtag it. #conversationmarketing. Now it feels more contemporary. Doesn’t it?
Invest in a conversation with your customers and prospects. Where? At an event — one of your own or at a targeted trade show or conference. For my money, nothing can replace the value of a face-to-face conversation, especially for complex, considered purchases like you find in B2B. Events are a pretty significant investment, but there are ways to make sure you get the best possible return.
- Devise your own event strategy where you control the environment. Customer forums that offer real value to prospects and customers are ideal. If you’re unsure what this looks like, check out this example. It’s possible to create hundreds, even thousands, of one-of-a-kind interactions over time that help retain and grow existing clients as well as cultivate opportunities with new customers.
- Consider augmenting your customer events with online versions via webinars. While not face-to-face, an active webinar series featuring the same content provides a hybrid forum where personal interaction meets digital media. Good stories and presentations earn large, engaged audiences.
- And yes, trade shows and conferences. You may not be able to afford attending a lot of them, but participating at the right events can be a great way to shore up existing relationships and add life to your pipeline. Prepare well. Put on formal presentations and discussion panels at your booth. Engage with the media. Hold lots of — wait for it — conversations.
Event Effectiveness Is Real in B2B Marketing
Yes, there is a stat for everything in B2B, but our customers are telling us events work. So are others in the industry.
- 77% of executive decision makers found at least one new supplier at the last show they attended (source: Sage World)
- 46% of executive decision makers made purchase decisions while attending a show (source: Sage World)
- 48% of event attendees say face-to-face interactions are more valuable than two years ago (source: Center for Exhibition Industry Research) — See? What’s old is new again.
Still unsure about face-to-face? Consider that it might actually be the ultimate differentiator. According to one report, 90% of event attendees have not met face-to-face with companies exhibiting at the show in the 12 months prior to the event. And 80% of exhibitors don’t bother to follow up on leads and contacts. So, if you’re setting yourself up to have regular conversations with customers and prospects, you’re in the minority. And if you take time to follow up with them, you’re even more distinctive. Then you can start working with your new marketing automation technologies, building a pipeline, and moving potential customers closer and closer to a sale.
That’s my take. If you’re not sure, call me. I’d love to have the conversation.