During the height of the pandemic, many companies pivoted to online events, attempting to replace the magic of their in-person trade shows, conferences, and conventions.
Virtual events provided a lifeline for some companies during lockdown, but let’s face it: Attending a conference alone in your office, while wearing pajamas, just isn’t the same.
There is no substitute for the power of face-to-face interactions.
Now live events are making a comeback — and it’s quite possible that meeting your prospects and customers in person can deliver more bang for your marketing buck.
According to a Kaltura report in 2021, nearly 40% of the consumers interviewed reported going to in-person events for networking purposes — but only 15% said they went to virtual events to build relationships. Virtual and hybrid events have their place, but they’re not always the knockout champs.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the differences between virtual and in-person events, and how those differences impact sales and marketing.
4 Reasons In-Person Events Rule
1. Human connection
We all spend a lot of time online — staring down at our phones or sitting in front of our computers. That’s why “going analog” and being able to look someone in the eye when you’re interacting with them feels so…well…special.
Better networking is one of the key things that make in-person events rise above virtual-only ones.
Face-to-face interactions at live events can build trust and rapport more effectively than virtual ones — and those interactions are also far more fun for many participants.
David Sax, the author of The Future Is Analog: How to Create a More Human World, says:
“Digital communication is not the same as having a conversation. It is a fundamentally different act than what happens when two or more human beings make sounds with their mouths, connect eyes and move their bodies to express ideas in a shared space, in real time.”
Although many virtual events now feature breakout rooms and advanced chat technology, it’s just not the same as being able to shake someone’s hand or give them a fist bump. At in-person events, you can also enjoy the serendipity of running into someone in the hallway or at the lunch buffet and being able to kick off a conversation.
Those human connections are the foundation of sales conversations — so if you’re hosting or attending conferences and events to bump up conversions, choose the live versions whenever possible.
2. Better audience attention and engagement
In-person events can also capture and hold the audience’s attention more effectively than virtual events. The physical presence of the speaker and the audience member’s peers can help maintain focus and boost involvement.
In-person events also create emotional engagement through shared experiences like laughter, applause, and physical touch. When a prospect or customer experiences this kind of engagement from live events, it can create a positive association with your brand.
3. Immersive environments
Live events provide an immersive environment that engages all the senses, which can create a more memorable experience for potential customers.
Attendees can see, touch, and even taste or smell the products you’re offering, creating a far more personal connection with your brand. This personal touch is something that online events simply can’t replicate. This kind of sensory connection can increase the likelihood of a sale, as it allows the attendee to see the value of the product or service in a tangible way.
The immersive environment of live events also allows you to deliver more dynamic and interactive sales pitches. Your salespeople can use the live environment to break away from boring, 2D sales pitches, and instead create interactive demonstrations or experiential conversations that showcase your product or service in unique ways.
More interesting sales pitches can help attendees remember your product or service long after the event is over, leading to increased brand recognition and potentially more sales. And when you’re trying to stand out from dozens of competitors in the vendor hall, this kind of immersion makes all the difference.
4. The market for virtual events is oversaturated
While virtual events have some advantages, including cost-effectiveness and convenience, the market has become oversaturated with a vast array of online conferences, webinars, and workshops.
Consumers can attend virtual events from their couches and home offices all day, every day — but many people are just burned out on digital interaction. The struggle with “Zoom fatigue” is real.
But in-person events have a distinctive vibe, and they give you the opportunity to create a unique experience for prospects, customers, and potential partners that helps you stand out from an ocean of webinars and other ho-hum online content.
Your prospect may not remember the third, fourth, or fifth webinar they’ve attended this month — but they’re sure as heck going to remember attending a live conference.
Adding In-Person Events Back Into Your Marketing Mix
While online events have their advantages, the personal touch and sensory engagement that in-person events deliver are difficult to replicate in the virtual world.
From dynamic and interactive sales pitches to the opportunity to build personal connections with prospects, live events offer your business a powerful tool to drive sales and boost your bottom line.
As the world continues to adapt to the post-pandemic reality, think about re-incorporating live events into your marketing and sales strategies. Whether you attend a conference, camp out in a booth at a trade show, or launch your product in front of hundreds of salivating fans, there are huge opportunities for building brand awareness and driving sales with face-to-face interactions.
Try Showcase Workshop for free, to see how we can help you create dynamic sales presentations for all your live events.