As we enter an increasingly digital age that has become more and more focused on online marketing, entrepreneurs and salespeople have begun to spend more and more of their time online. They connect with their customers via chatboxes, phone calls and social media pages. Digital marketing has become the name of the game. Sales catalogs and cold calls are increasingly becoming things of the past. Does that mean that face to face marketing has become a thing of the past, too? Absolutely not! Earlier this week, we talked about why trade shows are important to a company’s marketing mix, and trade shows are just one example of how face to face sales and marketing have prospered into 2018.
So what exactly is face to face marketing, and why does it matter for marketers in 2018?
What is face to face marketing?
At its most basic, face to face marketing is when you sit down with a customer or group of customers and pitch your business or products to them. This showcases one of the big benefits of the approach: you’re looking people in the eye, so you get to connect with them on a personal level.
There are two main ways that you as an entrepreneur or salesperson can engage in face to face sales and marketing:
- Informal methods. These can be as simple as striking up a conversation with someone at the store and explaining what you do. It gives you a chance to provide more information as requested, such as a website address or business card. As a bonus, you haven’t really “sold” anything – you’re just taking advantage of an opportunity to let an interested party know more about your business and the services or products you offer.
- Formal/planned methods. Formal face to face marketing is very different from the more informal methods, and not just because it’s designated as such. The big difference between the two is that formal marketing takes place in spaces where marketing and sales are expected to take place: trade shows, conventions and other events where you can go to promote your product or business. Unlike informal events, you’re definitely looking to sell someone something, even if it’s just the idea that your company is the one that can solve their business needs.
Whichever way you choose to approach your company’s face to face marketing efforts, it needs to be a dedicated part of your strategy – not just something that you let happen incidentally. Not only do you not want to restrict yourself solely to digital marketing efforts and cut your physical customers out of the loop, but you also miss out on a chance to scope out the competition – many of whom won’t be limiting themselves to just the digital sphere.
Why does face-to-face marketing matter? How can it help?
So what is it about face to face sales and marketing that makes them matter so much as part of a company’s strategy? At its most basic, face to face marketing matters because it enables your associates to make personal connections with your customers – something that can’t be done as easily within the digital marketing space. So what else can face to face marketing help you do that makes it a valuable part of the marketing toolkit for 2018?
10. Build social and emotional connections
As I mentioned above, face to face sales and marketing matter because they help your sales people and service representatives build social and emotional connections to your customers – something that can’t be done easily online.
There’s nothing like knowing that you’re talking to an actual human with a personality – so much so that some companies, like Discover, have made entire commercials around the fact that you’ll talk to a human when you pick up the phone.
But there’s not just a benefit to customers when you have people on the other end of the line or at the other side of the trade show booth – when you can physically interact with a client, such as speaking to them face-to-face or shaking their hand, your message will resonate just that much stronger with them.
9. Establish relationships and build credibility
No matter what business you’re in, it’s all about your relationships and credibility – not only with your customers, but with your vendors, suppliers and even the competition.
While it’s possible to connect with your audience and develop a relationship with your customers as an online company (some of the best brands have managed to do so), it’s a far easier prospect when you’re able to look your potential customer in the eye and shake their hand.
So how do you use face to face marketing to establish relationships and build credibility with your customers and others?
Simple: you educate each other. Demonstrate how your products work and the subject matter they might cover or deal with. For example, if your company sells computer software used for quality assurance, it pays to have a quality assurance expert or software developer on hand (or both) to talk to potential prospects.
However, this isn’t a field where “fake it till you make it” is the rule of the day: nowadays anyone can throw together some blogs and do a little research, then call themselves an “expert”. One of the best ways to become more authoritative in your customer’s eyes is by being able to answer their questions in an unscripted, off-the-cuff conversation.
Now, you’re educating them by answering their questions. How are they educating you back? They’re educating you because you’re listening to what they have to say. Take note of what they say – the business requirements they talk about, the questions they ask, and even their reactions to your responses. All of this is something to keep in mind, and how you react to it will help shape the relationship you have with your potential customer.
8. Make your company more visible and accessible
What does it mean to “make yourself more visible and accessible”? If you’re engaging in face to face marketing, you might feel that you’re as visible and accessible as you can possibly be, right? Wrong!
Here’s the deal:
When you serve people with a product, they expect certain things out of you. They expect you to do a couple things:
- Be able to answer their questions
- Be available when they need you
- Above all: admit when you can’t help them
If you can’t deliver on a customer’s expectations in this regard, they’ll go find someone who can.
So how do you put their fears at ease?
Put yourself and your company out there. Speak at events. Participate in the relevant organizations. Organize some organizations of your own. Essentially, show your customers that you’re there for them in whatever way they might need, and they’ll come running to you.
Another way to build trust with customers and to ensure maximum visibility for your brand or business is to advertise. Advertising comes in many forms, but simple advertising methods like displaying banners or feather flags can really draw new eyes to your business and increase brand awareness. For example, if you are promoting the products and services your business provides, it would be beneficial to have a physical presence as well. Some customers, especially more traditional customers, may prefer face to face meetings at your office for regular contact. Custom feather flags can showcase the entrance to your business and advertise the products and services your business provides to passing foot and car traffic. It shows customers your company has a home base and there is always a way to get in contact.
7. Communicate more effectively
Communicating in person is far and away easier than communicating online, and makes for much more effective communication, to boot. How do I mean?
Well, for one, there’s no tone in a text box. Depending on what you type, you may just make a customer angry or frustrated. Straight text robs any intent behind your words.
For two, we as humans come off as much more natural in-person than we do online. That human element can’t currently be replicated by technology. Why? Well, we learn just as much from a person’s body language and verbal cues as we do from the words that come out of their mouth.
In-person interactions are information-rich, and it’s that information that you can then use to communicate much more effectively.
You might be wondering how:
We pick up how to take what someone says to us, not just from their tone of voice and facial expression, but also their body language, pacing, as well as their synchronization with what we do and say. By getting this information from a person’s verbal and non-verbal cues, we can understand not just how they intend for us to take what they’re saying to us, but also how they’re taking in what we’re saying to them.
6. Solve problems and manage crises
Face to face marketing gives you a chance to meet with your customers and discuss their problems. Personal discussion also gives you the chance for a faster, more productive solution than you might have achieved solely through online correspondence. According to a 2018 survey by Rackspace and the Economist’s Intelligence Unit, over a fifth of the respondents agreed that it’s face-to-face customer interaction that helps them drive innovation.
5. Acquaint your company with new trends and technology
One of the best reasons to perform face-to-face sales and marketing in 2018 is that if gives you and your company the chance to get acquainted with new trends and new technology – especially if you go to trade shows, which are designed primarily around getting businesses in contact with other businesses.
They also usually feature lectures, conferences, workshops and certifications designed to acquaint the professionals who attend with technology and trends that are either emerging or industry standard.
4. Bring the audience to you by going to events
The other big thing that trade shows and other face to face marketing events are good for is that the bring your target audience right to your door, so to speak. Everyone that walks across the trade show floor or past your booth at the next industry conference is a potential new lead, whether that’s as a sale or someone you can acquaint yourself with to learn more about your industry of choice.
Going to these events brings the audience to you – no sales catalogs or cold calls needed.
3. Maintain brand identity
Corporate or brand identity is the collection of the different brand elements that a company uses to portray the right image of itself to the consumer. Your logo and slogan, the type of packaging you use on your products, even how your company portrays itself on social media are all part of its corporate and brand identity.
But why do you need to maintain a strong brand identity? Here’s the deal:
A strong brand identity gives your company a legitimacy and stability that’s hard to match. It allows people to recognize and connect with your brand. Most companies know this – it’s why they spend thousands on logos and social media and the like. But a brand identity can be hard to press in the field, especially by individual marketing agents or sales reps.
To combat this, make sure your brand’s visual and cultural identity expends beyond just its website or packaging. Make sure your representatives and marketers can walk the walk and talk the talk. Do they truly believe in the identity they’re espousing? If your marketers and representatives believe in it, it’ll be that much easier for your customers to believe in it, too.
2. Build brand recognition
Once you’re able to build and maintain a brand identity, you can work on building brand recognition. Brand recognition is how well a consumer can correctly identify a particular product or service just by viewing the product or service’s logo, tag line, packaging or advertising campaign.
Building brand recognition and awareness is the root of marketing. If your company doesn’t have good brand awareness among its customers, it can lead to all sorts of marketing woes, from lackluster leads to zero customer engagement.
1. Maximize media reach
Face to face marketing is one of the best ways to maximize your overall media reach. Why? Because you can tie it into your digital marketing. This way, you maximize the reach of both channels. One of the best ways to do this is to equip your sales reps and field marketers with the tools they need to capture any special moments they might have with your customers, then share them online.
These kinds of homegrown and “viral” marketing campaigns are great because they’re all shareable. Each post, each event can be posted online, where it can then be viewed and experienced by more people. This amplifies the campaign’s impact.
Not sure about the best way to maximize your media reach? Check out HubSpot’s list of experiential marketing campaigns.
What reasons does your company have to continue its face to face marketing initiatives? How much face to face sales and marketing does your company do? How do they sell themselves to the customer? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or in the comments below!