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You would be forgiven for feeling that, with so many lockdowns and social distancing rules in the last year, life has become a virtual experience. Much of our social interaction has been online with face-to-face meetings discouraged. But humans are social animals and seeing friends or colleagues through a screen does not replace the experience of meeting up with them. Most of us have really missed social interaction. WhatsApp conversations and Zoom “parties” have helped me to maintain a sense of connection, but these tools can’t replace aspects of interaction – like social touches and impromptu chats by the water cooler – that can boost mood and strengthen relationships.
Live marketing focusses on this need that we have as humans to interact with each other. It is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers in a face-to-face context, inviting them to participate in what a brand has to offer. So, attendance at exhibitions, trade shows, pop-up shops, stands at concerts or events are all examples of live marketing. Businesses use it to increase brand awareness, demonstrate their products and generate leads.
The pandemic has had a brutal impact on live marketing at events, with large scale gatherings banned for a year, this impacted all aspects of the events industry from trade shows, to corporate events, sporting events and even the Olympics. Many corporate events and exhibitions switched to digital events, allowing companies to have a virtual stand that people can visit online and speakers broadcasting their talks over the internet. So, are these virtual events here to stay or will we rush back to live events as soon as we can?
Targeting customers digitally is an undoubtably an important part of a marketing strategy, but to really engage with your customers it’s important to meet face-to-face. A report by The Event Marketing Institute found that 74% of consumers say that engaging with branded event marketing experiences makes them more likely to buy the products being promoted.
The direct interaction between the customer and the brand is what defines live marketing. Live marketing strays away from traditional marketing tactics and gears towards having customers interact with their brand. This creates more of a memorable experience for the customers and is more likely to lead to sales.
Engaging well with customers on-line is becoming increasingly difficult. The digital sphere is swamped with companies all trying to do the same thing, so standing out is becoming increasingly challenging. The battle for the top of the search engine results is a continual one with companies dedicating whole teams of staff or hiring specialist web agencies like Quadrant2Design to achieve it.
And although virtual events have become the new norm, they just don’t work as well as live events. Glitchy viewings of stands, endless live chat requests and live-streamed speeches just don’t have the same impact as being there, feeling the buzz and chatting to people. Digital events typically only generate less than 50% of the revenue generated by live events because people just don’t engage as much virtually.
Post-pandemic live marketing opportunities
As the vaccine roll-out takes hold and restrictions are lifted consumers will be really keen to get back to normal life. After a year of being stuck at home, they will embrace opportunities for social interaction. Events, once taken for granted, will become exciting opportunities to meet people and network. This gives companies a perfect opportunity to engage with their potential customers.
Live events will be something of a novelty when they are allowed to return. Consumers will be eager to attend them as a change of routine and opportunity to network. They are much more likely to engage with you in a live setting, particularly following such a long period of digital only. They will be interested and excited to be back to normal. So, taking advantage of this renewed interest in events should form an important part of your marketing strategy moving forward. You need to make sure you have a presence at the events to stand out from your competitors and really engage with your customers.
The pandemic will have had a devastating impact on some businesses, many will have gone bust. Others will have to make cutbacks in order to survive. Marketing budgets are often the first things to be cut. Therefore, if you have the budget for live marketing now is your chance to really stand out from your competitors. Attending live events will prove to customers that you are a stable, well-run company that has been able to weather the storm. They will feel more comfortable to trust you with their money as you have survived the pandemic. Visitor numbers may be higher too as everyone uses events as a reason to escape the home-office.
If you are thinking of including live marketing in your future marketing strategy you will need to consider how to go about it. Of course, live marketing could just be a sales person demonstrating a product to passers-by. But to really attract attention you’ll need a decent stand or pop-up display. This will not only reflect your brand but also provide a showcase for your products or services.
There are plenty of exhibition stands, brand activation and pop-up shop designers around but make sure you choose one who is in a sound financial position. Some may not have dealt very well with the long periods of lockdown ceasing all events. You need to know you can trust them with your marketing budget. Ask to see their credit report, reputable exhibition and brand activation agencies like Black Robin Exhibits won’t have a problem with this, and it will put your mind at ease.
We predict that although there will be a place for virtual events post-pandemic, they will not replace live events. People like having the opportunity to network and socialize, and businesses get a unique opportunity to really engage with their customers in a face-to-face setting. Make sure you’re not left behind by factoring live marketing back into your marketing strategy for 2021.
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