Why Face-to-Face Communication Matters in a Digital World


Digital channels continue to be a big draw. The “State of B2B Marketing 2015” reported that 82 percent of respondents plan to increase their online spend. But regardless, face-to-face events remains strong marketing tools. According to Laura Ramos at Forrester, in “A pattern than has been consistent since 2008”, in-person events make up the biggest chunk of B2B budgets (14% of total budget in 2015).

So why does face-to-face communication still matter? Here are three reasons why, plus a measurement process to justify your face-to-face marketing budget in today’s digital-driven landscape.

No Substitute for Human Contact and Communication

There is a human component to face-to-face events that cannot currently be replicated by technology. When we connect in person, we learn just as much from non-verbal cues as the actual conversation. Even the most advanced technologies, like Cisco TelePresence don’t completely replicate the experience of in-person human interaction.

The Harvard Business Review sums this notion up perfectly: “Face-to-face communication is the broadest bandwidth communication you can have in professional life. Interactions are information-rich; 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. Most crucially, our brain’s social circuitry mimics in our neurons what’s happening in the other person’s brain, keeping us on the same wavelength.”

The Business Value of Face-to-Face Events

In addition to giving us the warm fuzzy feelings humans crave, meeting people face-to-face also delivers business value.

  • According to “Customer Attainment From Event Engagement,” 89 percent of brand marketers say face-to-face events hold some level of importance and value for their organization. 31 percent consider in-person events essential.
  • From the “State of B2B Marketing 2015,” 84 percent say exhibitions, conferences and trade shows are the most effective distribution channel for achieving a company’s marketing goals.
  • The “Marketing Spend Decision” found business-to-business exhibitions are used by exhibitors to support and drive top business objectives: reaching/identifying new customers/sales leads; building product/company awareness; and meeting with existing customers.
  • As found in “The Value of B-to-B,” marketers rate face-to-face event attendance and face-to-face event sponsorship as the top two methods for developing new product and service awareness, as well as generating targeted leads.

Why Face-to-Face Events Will Always Matter

Of course, digital plays a vital role in researching or learning about a company or its solutions. But that information doesn’t provide a brand experience or communicate a company’s authenticity.

  • Live events create connections. We sit and listen to prospects and clients’ biggest challenges. We foster relationships with vendors and suppliers. We get an industry perspective and identify new growth opportunities.
  • Entrepreneur highlighted two key reasons why face-to-face communication won’t disappear:
  • 87% of professionals believe face-to-face events are essential for sealing a business deal.
  • 95% of professionals believe face-to-face events are key to successful long-term business relationships.

Measure to Protect Your Budget

One of the best ways to protect your face-to-face marketing budget is effective measurement. Learn more about measurement or how to improve how you measure events by visiting our resource center.

Here’s an organized process to use:

  1. Define Goals and Objectives
    • Start with your vision of what success will look like. Develop corresponding goals and objectives. Identify SMART metrics to track if your event was successful in achieving those goals.
  2. Set Strategy
    • How will you execute all event elements to achieve your vision of success?
  3. Plan for Measurement
    • As you’re setting strategy, plan concurrently how to collect needed data. Identify data sources you already have as well as data points you need. Don’t forget to assign responsibilities and roles for data collection among your team.
  4. Execute
    • Depending on your approach, measurement may begin with a pre-event survey. There are also several other event surveys you can use to collect measurement data.
  5. Analyze, Report and Recommend
    • Post-show measurement determines the total impact of your event across the four key areas – pipeline opportunity, brand affinity, relationship quality and experience quality.
  6. Adapt and Repeat
    • You’re not just collecting data because it’s interesting. Act on the findings. Incorporate recommendations into the next wave of event planning. While it takes time and energy, this is where you reap all the benefits of your measurement plan.

Looking for additional justification why face-to-face matters? Read three more reasons why event marketing should be part of your overall marketing strategy.

Posted by Mark Dante | Request as a Speaker