The Value of Face-to-Face Marketing in an Age of Virtuality

The speed of information has been significantly impacted by the popularity of communication via electronic channels, such as email, instant messages, LinkedIn, Twitter or other social networks.

Some marketers have also questioned the value of face-to-face communication in building brands.

Face-to-face interactions are more important than ever. A report by Meeting Professionals International shows that face-to-face meetings are the most effective way to convert prospects into new customers.

Face-to-face marketing and virtual marketing are both essential elements of any company’s communication strategy. Here are some of the benefits of both methods, as well as an example of how to combine them for maximum return on investment.

The Case for Face-to face

Face-to-face interaction is beneficial for business, whether it’s a tradeshow or an event. Face-to-face interactions are fundamentally about building trust and a personal relationship between a company and its audience. A warm handshake, a conversation that is engaging, and getting to understand customers and prospects can lead to stronger and more profitable relationships.

Several research studies support this. In a 2009 EventView survey of senior executives from sales and marketing, 62% selected event marketing as a discipline that accelerates and deepens relationships.

Face-to-face meetings are more conducive to certain business goals. A 2009 Forbes Insights study of 760 business leaders found that face-to-face meetings were preferred when there was a fluid process for decision-making, which required the give-and-take typically needed to make complex decisions and close sales. The study concluded that face-to-face interactions were most important for business attributes and outcomes such as persuasion (91%) and decision-making (82%).

Moreover, in-person interaction fosters engagement. How many times have you sat through a conference call or viewed a webcast while simultaneously checking your email or signing paperwork? Multitasking is common in the workplace due to increased workloads and reduced staff.

The Virtues Of Virtual

Virtual interaction is still a very valuable tool in a business’s sales and strategy. It’s important to know when virtual events, webinars, and social media are most useful.

Virtual communication can be used in a number of ways. These include distributing data, maintaining relationships, and connecting with a global audience.

Marketers most often choose virtual engagement to save money and time. The setup costs of a webinar are a fraction of the price of a face-to-face meeting. Travel expenses, which are another important line item in any face-to-face meeting, become non-issues.

Virtual engagement also offers flexibility. It is easier to arrange the location and time, and you can archive speeches, seminars, and presentations for later viewing.

Search engine visibility is a benefit of archiving and making virtual events easily accessible online. This can be a valuable addition to any digital marketing strategy.

Smart Marketers Choose Both

Marketers are building integrated communication plans that combine the strengths of both virtual and face-to-face strategies.

Virtual elements can be used to increase and extend the audience’s engagement with traditional events. You must still plan and coordinate online activities just like you would face-to-face ones. Each element affects the experience of your audience with your brand. Select virtual components that are appropriate for your event, audience, and goals.

We’ll look at how to apply a combined marketing strategy to a tradeshow. This is one of the common face-to-face marketing strategies that companies use. Tradeshows are very popular because they are an inexpensive way to generate new leads, close deals, and increase brand awareness.


Pre-show marketing plays an essential role in the success of any tradeshow/face-to-face program because it helps drive booth traffic and generate quality leads. Virtual communication fits in well here, as it allows companies to connect with their customers and find potential customers on a budget-friendly basis. Here are some pre-show activities that work:

  • Create a contest before the show. Invite attendees to upload comments, photos, or videos on your Facebook page. Announce winners at your booth during the show.
  • Connect your event registration system to Twitter so that attendees can automatically tweet their followers when they register (e.g., “I have just registered for Industry Trade Show. Are you going to be there? “).
  • Post videos on YouTube and build awareness of your show presence. Tease attendees with a preview of what they will see at your booth.
  • You can use social media to survey attendees, customers, and followers to determine their top priorities. This can help you decide what to focus on at the event and give attendees a better in-person experience.
  • Tweet about relevant and interesting topics, not just the tradeshow.
  • Advertise the event online and on your website.
  • Set appointments and send out emails to customers and prospects in advance.
  • Join forums and groups on LinkedIn and take part in discussions related to the show or your industry. Twitter provides similar opportunities. Use relevant hashtags.


You can extend the tradeshow experience by using interactive tools.

  • Send a tweet or message containing “specials” exclusive for those who have received it.
  • Create a website to give visitors real-time feedback from the show floor.
  • Use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to share news with those attending the event, as well as those who aren’t able to participate in.
  • Post a blog post each evening to summarize the day’s activities and share any interesting observations you have made on the show floor.
  • Streaming a press release on your website will help you announce important news.


All post-event communication can be done using virtual tools. These tools also allow you to engage with customers and prospects long after the event has ended. Here are some examples of post-show virtual initiatives that have been successful:

  • Show photos can be added to your website and Flickr (don’t forget to tag).
  • Share the URL of a virtual demo of the new products you launched at the trade show with your customers and prospects who were not able to meet on-site.
  • Use email to reach out to qualified prospects that you didn’t meet at the event.

The Last Word

Face-to-face and virtual marketing both have their benefits. Face-to-face interaction can help create strong business relationships that last a lifetime. Virtual communication keeps the dialogue going with customers and prospects fresh all year round.

Take the time to evaluate your business goals, set clear metrics and objectives, and then choose the best strategy for you. I’m sure it will include some face-to-face time as well as digital communication.

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