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14 reasons why F2F marketing should be part of your 2014 marketing mix

With the digital era well and truly underway it’s sometimes difficult to remember that there are real human beings sat behind those computer (tablet, mobile, etc. etc.) screens. While still relatively new, digital has transformed our lives as we know them and how we as marketers work.

Gone are the days of being able to buy some ad space on the TV with the assurance of reaching a large and captive audience. Nowadays that ad will have to compete not only with whatever else may be jammed down your audience’s throat in that 5 minute ad break (provided that Sky+ or TeVo haven’t cut the ad out completely), but also with whatever pops up on their internet browser, arrives in their inbox, comes through on their mobile, appears in a tweet, is strategically placed in a blog… The possibilities really are endless, making a marketer’s job either really terrifying, extremely exciting, or sometimes a little of both.

Being part of the desirable Gen Y group I am lucky enough to remember what life was like before the worldwide web, when you couldn’t just “google it” and if you wanted to IM somebody it involved asking your parent’s permission to use the phone (there certainly wasn’t that much instant about it). The telephone was about as high-tech as it got and most of the time it was easier, faster and cheaper to meet in person. Then just like that we had the internet and the whole world seemed to change in the space of a few years. Gen Y’ers like myself, jumped onto MySpace, Instant Messenger, Bebo, you name it we lapped it up and the world really hasn’t been the same since.

But has that hailed the end of face-to-face interactions?  I certainly don’t think so, and I don’t seem to be alone as the evidence suggests it’s seeing a resurgence amongst my generation.

But don’t just take my word for it! Here are 14 reasons why face-to-face is still alive and kicking in 2014 and why when combined with digital marketing, it’s a force to be reckoned with:

Research from FaceTime suggests that…

1.  Live Competes Hard Against (And Beats) TV: One in three people experience an uplift in positive attitudes after attending an event, versus only one in four people experiencing the standard uplift to a 30 second TV advert.

2. Live builds and strengthens relationships with corporate customers: An additional 37% of visitors to a trade event believed 'experiencing a business first-hand makes it more memorable', with one in five believing this implicitly post-event.

3. Live Fuels Sales Uplift: After experiencing a brand at a trade event, 28% more visitors indicated 'I would like to buy it' (16% implicitly), with 29% at a consumer event (19% implicitly).

4. 93% of marketers and business directors feel that face-to-face marketing is the most effective media channel to convert prospects.

5. 85% of marketers and business directors strongly agree that meeting prospective customers in person leads to a longer term relationship.

WebDAM’s infographic highlights some interesting marketing stats but this one really stood out…

6. 67% of b2b content marketers consider event marketing the most effective strategy.

Common Sense Media’s study shows that even Gen Z have not abandoned F2F just yet…

7. Despite being avid social media users, talking to each other in person is still teens' favourite way to communicate.  The main reasons kids prefer face-to-face conversations are that they're more fun (38%) and that they can understand what people really mean better in person (29%).

The Telegraph’s summary of Ofcom's Communications Market Report illustrates why a combination of digital and F2F marketing is needed to target Gen Y…

8. Some 90 percent of 16 to 24-year-olds exchange texts with friends and family at least once a day, followed by social networking (74%), mobile phone calls (67%) and face-to-face contact (63%). British adults say that they would prefer to meet (67%) or speak on the phone (10%) than communicate with people by text (5%).

Crowne Plaza’s “Business meetings in the modern world: Insights and steps to success” found that...

9. Face-to-face meetings are perceived to encourage greater involvement from attendees (two thirds of those questioned globally list this as the biggest advantage of a face-to-face meeting), with less chance of misinterpretation (64%) and a greater opportunity to build trust (63%).

Business Week’s Debate Room opened up an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of F2F but here is one of the best bits…

10. Live meetings deliver the rich, potent experiences that virtual meetings can’t. They deliver motivation along with messaging, and inspiration with information.

According to a report from Meeting Professionals International (MPI)…

11. 40 percent of prospects converted to new customers through face-to-face meetings, while 28 percent of current business would be lost without face-to-face meetings.

Coming in at number 12, Conference News summarises one of the key findings from a Britain for Events report

12. Far from reducing the need for meetings, the proliferation of text, email and messaging has increased the value of face-to-face communication. Making messages memorable has become the greatest business challenge of the 21st century.

Ad Age’s 2014 BtoB Outlook: Marketing Priorities and Plans survey found that…

13. 7.2% more respondents will increase their spending on events this year according to

And finally at number 14, a quote from FaceTime, that sums it all up pretty well…

14. “Across all media platforms the best way to achieve sales leads is a combination of face-to-face marketing and digital platforms.”

FaceTime really hits the nail on the head with number 14, times have changed and to stay ahead of the game marketers need to follow suit. We need to be looking at how we can merge communication channels to create memorable experiences that can be developed to form long term relationships built on loyalty and trust.

The various channels are not there to fight against each other, there is no either or but rather an exciting new breed of communication that allows us to create lasting relationships that go so much further that shouting out from a television screen. Sat here surrounded by my iPhone, iPad, and iPod, I look at these as tools, ways to communicate and yes even interact, but far from taking over, I see them as ways to enhance face-to-face experiences not replace them. Face-to-face is still an integral part of all our lives (yes even Gen Y and Gen Z) and so is digital communication, both have their place in our lives, those marketers who will see the greatest success will be the ones using them in harmony to create experiences that last long after the event is over and the final tweet has been sent.