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Why You Should Use In-Person Events to Foster Customer Relationships

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Why do people buy from you? It boils down to two things: they found you, and they picked you.

Let's talk about "they found you."

To get people to find you, you've got to tell them about yourself or someone else has to tell other people about you. If you're the only grocery store in your town, you don't have a problem with people finding you. You stick a sign outside and reach 100% of your target market.

Most of us, however, spend a lot of brain cycles trying to figure out how to tell the world about our thing. We use ads, content, social media, and so on to try to spread the word.

Moreover, getting someone's attention is becoming increasingly difficult. The amount of stuff being created today—such as photos, tweets, blog posts, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, and emails—is making it hard for our message to squeeze its way into people's limited attention span.


But all of that attention-seeking stuff does have one major thing going for it: Most of it represents communication between people.

As a result, people are more connected to one another, at least loosely, than ever. The effect of that reaching out is really important: The same factors that are making it harder for you to tell other people about your thing are making it easier for people to hear about your thing from someone else.

For that reason, it's crucial to have customers who love what you're doing and who actively spread the word. Some businesses, like the previously mentioned grocery store, can bear the full burden of getting the word out, but, for the large majority of us, we have to acknowledge and embrace that we simply can't do it on our own.

We need brand ambassadors—customers who are motivated to share our story with others simply because they like us.

That is where the lines start to blur between "they found you" and "they picked you." They pick you because of your product, your price, your brand, what you stand for, your personality, and your content. They pick you because they like you. They spread the word—help people find you—because they like you. The goal is clear: Be likable. Form relationships with your customers.

What's Your Company's Personality Like?

Marketing has always been about building relationships with people. So, the first step in building a relationship with someone is having a personality—something for him or her to relate to.

Personality is cultivated through the values and culture of the company. The goal of an ad, a piece of content, a video, the copy on your homepage, or the image you choose for your billboard ad are all designed to convey your personality, to build a relationship with that potential customer, employee, or advocate.

But we're aiming for people to love us! We want them to want to spread the word. We've got to do a little better than interrupt them with an advertisement—we need to build a relationship with them, and that is best done in person.

A bond forms when you're at the same place at the same time with someone else. The bond is even deeper if you're sharing a unique experience with someone. There's a term we use a lot at Ticketleap called "communitas."

Communitas is the sense of connectedness two people feel when they share a unique experience together. If you're able foster communitas with your community, you're forming a bond that you simply can't replicate by favoriting a tweet or having them click on an ad.

Here's an example. One of our first events at Ticketleap was called the Flower Potluck. We sold 20 tickets to what was supposed to be an outdoor event on the grassy banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. It rained torrentially that day. We had to move the event inside, but nine people managed to brave the storm to show up. Everyone brought and exchanged flowers, and we provided wine and wraps. It was a lot of fun, and everyone had a good time. Nine people got an experience in our brand in its best possible light in person. But did it really make a difference?

Those nine people shared something about the event 18 times on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Those 18 shares got 93 likes or favorites, and along with the likes from the event page itself, the event resulted in a total of 173 online engagements!

When we do blog post or craft a witty tweet, we would be thrilled to get this much engagement. That's 173 people who heard about Ticketleap from their friends and nine people we engaged in person.

Those stats get us excited about events. Events that are fun. Events that let our personality shine through. Events that foster communitas. We're excited about events because they're the best way to build relationships with our customers and the best chance we have to get them to spread the word and help people find us, like us, and pick us.


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Tim Raybould is CEO of Ticketleap, an online ticketing and event registration tool for people looking to build communities.

LinkedIn: Tim Raybould

Twitter: @timraybould

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