The popularity of communicating virtually—whether via email, instant messaging, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media channels—has had a significant impact on the speed at which information can be obtained.

Virtual communication has also led some marketers to question the role face-to-face communications can play in building a brand.

However, the need for face-to-face interaction has never been more important. According to a report from Meeting Professionals International (MPI), 40% of prospects converted to new customers via face-to-face meetings, and 28% of current business would be lost without face-to-face meetings.

The reality is that both face-to-face and virtual marketing are essential components to any company's communications strategy. Here are some benefits of both approaches, plus an example of how they can be combined to maximize return on investment.

Making the Case for Face-to-Face

Whether considering a tradeshow, proprietary event, or a mobile tour, face-to-face interactions provide significant business benefits. At its core, face-to-face engagement creates a personal connection and builds trust between a company and its target audience. Giving a warm handshake, carrying an engaging conversation, and getting to know customers and prospects on an individual level can help form stronger, more meaningful, and more profitable business relationships.

Several research studies support that point. For example, in a 2009 EventView study of senior executives in sales and marketing, 62% chose event marketing as the discipline that best accelerates and deepens relationships.

Face-to-face meetings are also more conducive to achieving certain business objectives. According to a 2009 Forbes Insights survey of 760 business executives, face-to-face meetings were preferred in cases that have a fluid decision-making process, requiring the give-and-take typically needed for complex decisions and sales. Among the business attributes and outcomes, face-to-face interaction was most critical for persuasion (91%), decision-making (82%), and candor (78%), the study found.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Rob Murphy

Rob Murphy is the chief marketing officer of MC2, a global exhibit and event marketing company. Check out the eConnections Digest blog and find MC2 on Twitter (@MC2experience_ and @MC2_FastTrak) and Facebook.