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Exhibitions Are Dead. Digital Marketing Channels Are All That Matter!-->
Exhibitions Are Dead. Digital Marketing Channels Are All That Matter!
“We don’t need an exhibition you see we have our digital marketing funnel. We’ve got our marketing strategy nailed on strong. Exhibitions are old school, traditional marketing – they don’t work for us. In fact they are dead to us!
You see with real-time analytics and this new-fangled gadget that tracks the heartbeat of our website visitor, we can see when they are excited about our product, so we know how and what they are going to buy and when.” — Modern Marketer
This might be a slight exaggeration of the current dominance of digital in the world of marketing but you get the message. The proliferation of tools – marketing automation tools, CRM solutions, and the focus on data-driven marketing has resulted in a seismic shift away from what might be called “traditional” marketing efforts. Data – reliable evidence of the success of the marketing effort – has led marketers this way and it’s hard to argue with the data and the success of a well-orchestrated sales & marketing funnel.
Data don’t buy. People buy.
Sure, we learn from data. We can make assumptions to varying degrees of reliability about what funnel data tells us – where visitors came from, useful; how far along the funnel a website visitor is, great; Customer drop-off points, we can learn from that! Data feeds better decisions, definitely. But the devil is in the detail – this is often best discovered by having the right people from your organisation talking to your customer in a face-to-face environment.
Face-to-face time is crucial. It’s a chance to brag about new features, to address specific concerns, to bolster your message, learn about your product from existing users, build trust and bring prospects a step closer to purchasing.
A prospect typically has numerous touch points with you before making a decision – especially for higher involvement decisions like purchasing software. Much of their homework is done before they decide to request a demo or submit their details on your website. How much of that research have you positively influenced? Do you really know?
Your online nurturing program is laced with uncertainties. Perhaps you spend some time fretting about customer churn and are so engrossed in reporting data – it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that your software is bought by people. Real people who are actively pursuing information that will help them to do their jobs better – by, amongst other things, attending conferences and networking events where they expect to learn from peers and industry thought-leaders. Where else are they as focused on seeking better ways to work?
1. Influencers attend conferences
Conferences are bustling with influencers and attentive audiences eager to hear the latest trends and freshest approaches. They attend seeking validation of their own ideas from peers, sharing better ways to work and daring to challenge the status quo. Who attends the EuroSTAR Conference?
2. Decision-makers attend conferences
Take the EuroSTAR Expo as an example – a significant portion of all conference attendees are in or near positions of influence within their organisations whereby they can affect the decision to purchase your product. They may not have senior IT manager as their job title but they will be reporting back to this person on their return to the office and if they’ve had a positive encounter with your company they will refer you.
3. Future decision makers attend conferences
Ok, so 100% of your audience are not currently top-level decision makers. Don’t just pack up your Exhibition Booth and go back to Display Advertising – think about the position face-to-face time takes in your marketing effort with people at different levels in the organisation of a prospective customer.
Conference attendees are, by their nature, passionate about their profession – ambitious and keen to learn, eager to advance. They are future decision makers. Does your brand-building strategy aim to align your brand to these future thought-leaders? Maybe it should.
4. Existing Customers attend Conferences
Churn. Customer churn. Why did they leave? Why didn’t someone tell us? Getting face-to-face time with existing customers is a great way of learning about the user experience and anticipating potential turnover of an existing customer – which saves on the expense of seeking out new customers. It’s also a great way of reinforcing your relationship with that customer. If they have had the opportunity to put a face to the name it builds a trust and strengthens your relationship with them.
Real contact with customers spurs innovation. Learn about their pain points, discover what they don’t like about your product (uncomfortable as that may be at times) – take the opportunity to listen, to make things better for your customer.
6. Opportunities for Partnerships
Exhibitions are not solely about casting a trawler net across the Expo floor and gathering as many email addresses as you can. There are opportunities to forge new partnerships by speaking to other exhibitors and identifying strategic benefits to joint venture projects.
7. Brand Awareness
Are you going to pass up the opportunity to be seen where your competitors are seen? To rub shoulders with industry thought-leaders in a focused, energised atmosphere. While you’re measuring your funnel, your competitors are standing in an Exhibition Hall having a coffee with your next customer. That’s gotta hurt!
Is Face-to-face contact part of your funnel?
Taking part in exhibitions is an important component of any successful marketing strategy – the value of face-time in understanding how existing customers feel about your product, discovering the needs of prospects and being able to communicate how you can help cannot be underestimated. It shouldn’t replace your marketing strategy but it should be an integral part of it and is an important step in retaining existing customers and acquiring new business.