Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Face-to-Face is Fundamental

The event slice of the media pie is growing again according to sources recently cited by BtoB and Media Business.  The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reported 2010 increases over 2009 of exhibiting companies, 2.1%; revenue, 4.2%; professional attendance, 5.4%; and net square feet, 5.6%.  Reed Elsevier and United Business Media have been buying events while shedding print properties.  A Communications Industry Forecast from Veronis Suhler Stevenson projects tradeshow spending in excess of B to B e-media and print ad spending by 2014.
 Clay Tablet from Egypt
ca. 2270 BCE.

Apples iPad2 Tablet 2011
 (Courtesy Apple)
Events have been part of the communications mix since before clay tablets. Now we’re all atwitter about tablet computers and smart phones.  New technologies are absolutely transforming communication.  But events will still be important when we are looking at tablet computers in the museum beside the displays of “micro computers" of the late '70s, fax machines and telegraphs.

Events are the original media of one-to-many communication and the original social media.  People are social by nature. We thrive on real social interaction.  Because events are truly interactive, B-to-B media CEO’s, including Bob Carrigan of IDG and David Levin, CEO of UBM, expect events to remain key to their businesses.

Events move minds Other media seldom has the same total effect.  Can you recall a recent learning experience you’ve had?  If you are like many people some of your most profoundly moving experiences are associated with events.  You react most strongly when your senses, of sound, sight, tactile feeling and even smell are all engaged.  At an event you are moving around; doing things with other people: asking and answering questions, face-to-face.  Participation motivates and mobilizes us all.

Events build trust.  Trust speeds the development of relationships.  Think of business contacts you’ve made in the past year, how they started, and where they’ve led.  Chances are, while you’ve made new contacts from many sources including online social media, the ones that have progressed most rapidly to mutual benefit began face-to-face.  Trust is also essential to building loyalty for your organization and brand.

Events can make money for you, directly if you are in the media business or indirectly if you use events as a marketing-communication tool.  In either case, amid an ever-widening array of communication options, events remain key to effectively cementing high-value relationships with your audiences or prospective customers.

Events evolve - today’s newest media maybe tomorrow’s clay tablet but face-to-face interaction will never be obsolete.  In the B to B field, email has largely replaced direct mail for attendee promotion and social media has become a significant contributor; virtual technology has become a substitute for some kinds of meetings and lead generation.  Specific forms and business models of events continue to change, but face-to-face persists as a powerful media.  

Face-to face events remain fundamental.   Events must be a primary part of your integrated communication mix, if you’ve got a business message for employees, customers, prospects, or broader audience.  We’d appreciate hearing about your success and your problems with events by comment below or directly by phone or email.

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