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The Business Case for Face-to-Face Events

speakers on stage addressing an audience at an in-person event

Business meetings and events have been around since there was business—a really long time.

In nearly all events, people make the trek across long distances, forgoing valuable time with their families and their work to get to events like yours all the time.

Accordingly, these events had to be worth the time and effort. In a huge way.

But, in this age of Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Periscope and other programs, many companies are considering a digital-focused event rather than the traditional face-to-face event.

“Why bother with in-person events when we can loop everyone in on a live video stream,” marketers ponder. “What’s the use?”

Even though you could save money by hosting an online event or make it easier for your people to attend, there’s a strong business value you’ll lose out on. There are real, substantive reasons for in-person events.

Here are some key reasons face-to-face events still are the best value for your event marketing spend.


In-Person Events Build Relationships and Communities

According to a report from Meeting Professionals International (MPI), 40% of prospects converted to new customers after a face-to-face meeting. More than that, another MPI survey finds that companies would lose as much as 28% of their business without in-person meetings.

Both these facts point toward one thing: in-person events provide more than an opportunity for you to engage with your audience. They allow you to bring like-minded people together to learn and connect in a way that isn’t possible online.

When there’s a bottomless number of people, each with bottomless ideas, it’s hard to stay focused and build those mutually beneficial relationships online, says Sanjay Dholakia, the former CMO of Marketo.

“There’s so much information online today that you can’t blast your way through it anymore,” he said. “In this crazy digital, mobile, social world, we now have infinite channels, so there’s much more noise. It’s hard to get the signal through.”

In the age of digital marketing and advertising, events are the final frontier. They may not be as easy as online communication, but building real, profitable relationships and communities won’t happen over the internet.


In-Person Events Help Tell Your Brand Story

Aside from the product and imagery behind them, what makes Starbucks different than Caribou? McDonald’s different than Burger King? Or Nike different than Addidas?

Stories are in everything you do and everything a brand does can become a story. When you incorporate your story into every component of your event, you keep your brand front-of-mind at every available opportunity.

When people physically attend your event, you can surround them with your brand and touch on all five senses: touch, sight, taste, smell and hearing. When they’re logging on to a digital event, they only see and hear what the camera wants them, limiting their experience—and interaction with your brand.

When you immerse your attendees in your brand for the duration of the event, you make an impact, even before and after. When you create a lasting impression, you get the substantial ROI your event needs.


In-Person Events Build Rapport and Reduce Friction

Think of chatting with a client over Skype. Then think of chatting with that same client over dinner at a cool restaurant. Which circumstance do you feel more comfortable with?

Clearly, it’s easier to befriend someone in real life than online. And having the ability to network and socialize creates real business opportunities. After all, 93% of business executives say meetings improve their ability to close deals.

Ask any salesperson and they will agree: in-person meetings help close sales deals. For existing sales opportunities, an event can be the catalyst to close the deal—and a stronger one than any digital component.

And, for prospects stuck on the fence about moving forward with you, live events offer an incredible opportunity to build rapport with your potential clients and inch closer to the sale.


In-Person Events Help Communities

The Super Bowl doesn’t just benefit the team that wins or their fans. The host city usually ends up with a healthy chunk of money in their pocket, too. Case in point: Super Bowl XLIX brought in a whopping $719.4 million in additional profits, spread about hotels, restaurants, coffee shops or any other place tourists would drop money.

OK—your event isn’t the Super Bowl. But that doesn’t mean your event doesn’t improve your community, and, in turn, you.

Smaller meetings and events generate real economic impact. Your attendees drive, fly or take a train to get there. They stay at hotels. They eat, drink and (gasp!) sneak out early for a chance to shop.

In other words, in-person meetings contribute wealth to communities around the globe, not just your company.


Not Convinced? Consider a Hybrid Event

Fun fact: many modern toasters surpass the computing power used to put a man on the moon. The smartphones, tablets and laptops we find commonplace are blisteringly fast, and technology evolves and grows more rapidly than we can keep up with.

With technology as powerful and readily accessible as it is today, ignoring that power to benefit your in-person meeting is a missed opportunity. After all, 81% of internet and mobile audiences watched more live video in 2016 than in 2015, according to Livestream.

Get larger results from your meeting or event by morphing it into a hybrid event—the happy balance of an in-person and digital meeting. According to Digitell, 30% of people who watch a live stream of an event will attend the same event in person the following year. That’s a win for your event today—with more people hearing your message—and an investment in your event the next time around.

Ready to start making your events an integral part of your company’s marketing mix? Find out how to drive impressive growth with our new ebook, “7 Ways to Make Your Event More Strategic.

Jill Anonson's picture

Jill Anonson

Jill has over 20 years of experience in event management, supplier relations and sales strategy. She stays ahead of industry trends and research to develop strategies and market plans for event solutions. She likes to turn everything in life into an experience, whether it involves food, red wine, activities with friends and family or a customer’s event. 

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