In the UK, over 1.3 million business events and exhibitions take place every year. No matter what market or niche your business fills, there is likely an event being held. Exhibitions and trade shows in the UK attract over 13 million visitors every year, as well as £11 billion is spending.
Of course, attending or even showcasing at an industry event is a short-term expenditure for your company. Any expense needs to show some sort of return. With that in mind, Wyboston Lakes, who host many industry events at their conference venues in Milton Keynes a look at some of the key aspects that make industry events so useful to businesses.
One benefit of industry events is meeting potential clients face-to-face. The digital age is a wonderful thing for businesses, but it does have its drawbacks. For example, while an email might be quick and convenient, it’s undoubtedly impersonal. Plus, people are flooded with emails every single day; it’s difficult to stand out and convince the reader to give them your attention.
Sometimes traditional methods, like face-to-face communication, cannot be beaten by digital alternatives. In fact, one study shows that a face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email. The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, saw 45 participants each asking 10 strangers (for a total of 450 strangers) to fill in a quick survey. All the participants were given the same script, but half were told to request via email, and the other half were told to request face-to-face.
Even though the participants were initially confident that they would be at least as successful in their email requests as face-to-face, face-to-face proved 34 times more effective. The study goes on to suggest the reason for this is rooted in a failure to realise that receiving an email is often met with suspicion, especially if it is out of the blue and asking the recipient to click a link; they cannot “see” what they are being asked to do yet. Face-to-face, the person can obviously see the survey with no risk.
Despite the rise of video conferences, the physical act of face-to-face meetings offered at industry events is invaluable. There are studies which show that despite seeing someone’s face in a video conference, something is still lost in translation when it comes to reading a person’s face in this way. One study showed a brainstorming session done face-to-face, over the phone, and with video chat — the face-to-face session produced more creative ideas in the end, as well as 30% more ideas than the video chat session. As such, 87% of people surveyed by Verizon noted a preference for face-to-face meetings.
The matter of brand awareness should also be considered. Similar to face-to-face meetings, seeing a brand image on a printed advert has been proven to be far more effective than a digital counterpart. In fact, one study exposed participants to a printed advert and a digital advert, and marked the results against nine attributes:
- Attention — this attribute measured a customer’s focused attention for a period of time. Digital performed better here.
- Review time — this attribute measured how much time a customer spent with the advert. Print performed better here.
- Engagement — this attribute measured the amount of information the customer processed and absorbed. Both print and digital tied for this attribute.
- Stimulation — this attribute measured the emotional reaction to an advert. Print performed better here.
- Memory Retrieval Accuracy — this attribute measured accurate recall of the advert’s source and content. Both print and digital tied here.
- Memory Speed and Confidence — this attribute measured how quickly and confidently a customer recalled an advert’s source and content. Print performed better here.
- Purchase and Willingness to Pay — this attribute measured both whether a customer would buy the product, and how much they would pay. Print and digital tied here.
- Desirability — this attribute measured the subconscious desire for the advertised product or service. Print performed better here.
- Valuation — this attribute measured the subconscious value a customer put on the advertised product or service. Print performed better here.
Think about this in the context of an industry event. Having a stand at a trade show or event with printed media available in a banner or flyers will take advantage of an increase in customer review time, emotional response, recollection of your brand, and your product or service’s desirability. In a similar way, while attending an industry event, handing out business cards or flyers for your own business will prove a much more effective method of networking and brand building.
There are a lot of benefits to attending an industry event, not only for boosting your own industry knowledge, but from a business-building perspective. Networking in person at such events simply provides so many valuable connection opportunities that simply cannot be gained by other means.