Working in a technology-led B2B sector, live events from exhibitions and conferences to customer meetings, open houses and technology roadshows have always been part and parcel of most clients’ marketing strategies.
Over the last two years, with restrictions on face-to-face events and travel, those clients have inevitably sought other ways to connect and engage with prospects, launch new products, nurture leads and sustain sales pipelines. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and we’ve found myriad ways to help clients do so effectively.
But, since Spring 2022, live events have finally started to gather real momentum again. The first major in-person customer events have taken place for several of our clients, and Team AD has once again been out in the market supporting suppliers with product launch events and at industry exhibitions. Last week was a landmark, with a six-person crew from AD travelling to Berlin for FESPA Global Print Expo 2022, the international meeting place of the digital wide-format printing sector and its many verticals.
As a long-standing client, this event has a special place in my heart and it was a huge buzz to see FESPA back in full swing, with smiling visitors, vibrant halls and busy stands.
And with several leading technology brands from among our client portfolio using FESPA as an important sales and marketing platform, I was proud to see the launch plans we helped develop come to fruition and witness visitors flocking to those stands to see, try and – above all – buy.
Over the last couple of years, many have predicted the demise of live events, suggesting that the advent of virtual alternatives would simply eclipse demand. But, just as we’re embracing the opportunity to get back into theatres, cinemas, festivals and concerts, it’s clear that business communities are equally keen to be back together in the real world.
We can sustain communication by digital means, but we’re still a long way from being able to touch, feel and smell through a screen. You can video call, email, tweet or DM a business contact, but that’s no substitute for a handshake or a hug, a heartfelt smile and a face-to-face conversation.
A customer can watch a product demo video, but it’s not the same as standing with an expert demonstrator, seeing the product from all angles, touching the output and having questions answered on the spot. They can do a virtual walkthrough of an event or showroom, but the sense of experience and discovery is missing.
I’ve come to realise that the secret ingredient is the sheer energy you get from a bright, buzzing live industry event.
After four days at the show, my feet may have been aching but my brain was fizzing. The human connections, the colour, the noise, the camaraderie left me feeling like I’d been plugged into the grid after two years running on a battery.
Now I’m back, reconnected, fully charged, and chock full of fresh ideas. Digital is an inescapable and fascinating part of the communications landscape, but nothing trumps real people, real places and real, three-dimensional communication.