Live Events Make Customer Connections

Posted on by George Hines

Imagine an event that’s had the media in a frenzy for weeks. Rumors are flying. Thousands of dollars have been spent on the big day, and everyone with even a small vested interest hangs on to every tweet.

No, it’s not a royal wedding. It’s an Apple event from the Steve Jobs era.

Apple is legendary for using live events to build anticipation for new product releases and announce innovations like the iPod and the iPhone. Even in the years since Jobs’ death, the company has built such a mystique around its events that even when no one expects a great new product, everyone is talking about the event.

But what if Jobs had done what 99% of company execs do and announced new product offerings in a press release? Would the iPod or iPhone have taken off quite the way they did? Probably not.

Live events hold a power over people that no amount of virtual technology can replace. It’s proven that a live event or meeting is 26% more likely to convert new customers than a sales pitch not made in person.

As a business leader, you can’t ignore margins like that. But if you need more convincing, here are three reasons live events are the perfect strategy for your marketing plan:

  1. They build hype around the brand.

Microsoft and Dell have struggled to get the same buzz around product launches as Apple. Numerous case studies have analyzed Apple’s events, but a recent one from Susan Grant and Alice Tybout says secrecy is the key.

When companies announce details of their new products months in advance, customers have time to weigh the pros and cons of existing products and make decisions based on features. But when you make an announcement in a secretive live event, it becomes all about the brand.

  1. They cultivate cross-industry relationships and discussions.

People go to live events because they want to share ideas or hear about how others overcome challenges. The best innovators know that they can usually find solutions in different industries, and there’s no better place than a live event to encourage that kind of cross-industry discussion.

As the marketer, live events will give you an opportunity to interact with your customers and peers and see how someone in your position solves similar problems.

  1. They provide valuable customer feedback.

What’s the most common form of feedback? A survey, of course.

But what if instead of asking customers what they thought, you were able to actually watch customers discover your product? You’d be able to watch their facial expressions, body language, and how they interact with your product.

Customers rarely know what they want. A live event allows you to observe what they actually do with what you give them, providing you with far more valuable data than a simple survey.

In-Person Events Always Trump Digital

With so many obvious advantages, why don’t more companies focus their marketing around live events?

Well, live events are expensive. And even in our data-focused world, it can be hard to measure the ROI. Most people measure the effectiveness of live events with leads, but it’s not as straightforward as measuring leads from social media or other digital channels.

But remember: No matter how much money and time you put into social media or your web presence, you won’t be able to develop the same type of relationships you can in person.

To maximize the impact of meeting your customers, follow a live event with another personal interaction.

  • Schedule a one-on-one meeting. Setting up personal meetings with prospects allows marketers to dig deeper into people’s needs and move closer to converting them into customers.
  • Go on the road. Plan a trip to visit multiple customers living in the same city to multiply the impact you would get from one personal meeting.
  • Send a handwritten note. In the digital age, people receive so many marketing emails that these messages often go ignored. However, a handwritten note gets attention in a way that emails and social mentions don’t.

Despite the expense and the difficulty of measuring the ROI of live events, no company can afford to ignore the impact of interacting with their customers and peers in person. Live events are where innovation happens and where your customers form deep connections to your brand. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and meet your customers.

George Hines is the CIO and head of innovation at Global Experience Specialists.


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