Face to Face Marketing: How your brand can benefit from fostering a personal connection in the age of digital media
We might be smack in the midst of a digital revolution, and certainly the COVID-19 crisis has fueled communications via social media, email and, of course, the now legendary family and friends Zoom call.
However, when you really think about it these online gatherings are reinforcing something inherent in just about all of us – the need for face time, the desire for genuine human connection.
This is what face to face marketing is all about. Technology will never be able to replace what it feels like to sit across from someone, share information, and have a personal and productive discussion.
For a brand, the give and take that happens when representatives are able to get face time with customers is invaluable in terms of marketing, brand awareness, and creating an authentic customer experience. Serving customers face to face builds trust. It gives them a point of contact and puts a face to the brand and product they’re considering buying.
These days, out of necessity, face time with customers might happen primarily over digital media. However, this will change. When it does, customers are going to long for that personal connection even more. Will you be ready with a strong face to face marketing program? Will you be ready to engage customers on a personal level and earn their trust?
What follows are some clear advantages of face to face marketing and a few merchandising tips to help your brand get the most out of it.
The more information you have about your customers, products, promotions and marketing programs, the more effectively you can sell face to face in stores. Learn how the latest retail management software solution from Mobile Insight® delivers the relevant brand information you need.
Build the right team for face to face marketing
Face to face marketing is all about people, so it’s only logical that building the right brand ambassador team is imperative. It’s not enough just to get face time with customers. You’ve got to leverage that face to face connection to create genuine relationships between your brand and your customers. Here are a few ways of marketing face to face that your brand ambassador team should be trained to deliver.
Be the voice of reason and appeal to the customer’s emotions
According to retail and marketing research conducted by Smith, an experiential marketing firm, customers tend to shop with their hearts as much as their heads – arguably even more so. The information compiled in this report identifies the emotional drivers of purchase decisions. The study shows that shopping can make people feel a wide range of emotions, such as frustrated, overwhelmed, unsure, energized, and dominant.
According to the report, the primary emotional appeal customers are looking for is validation. They want to feel confident in their purchase decisions and that happens when a friend or trusted advisor supports the purchase. The best way to do that is face to face.
A good brand ambassador will guide his or her customers with confidence bolstered by a genuine belief in the product. He or she will be a trained expert ready to answer any and all questions the customer might have, and, most importantly, a good brand ambassador will exude faith in the product and in the purchase decision. The brand ambassador will be the voice of both authority and reason who shows an eagerness to work face to face with the customer throughout the buying process.
This is how great brand ambassadors build trust, and remember, feelings of validation are based on trust.
Be careful not to push too hard when face to face marketing.
According to the research by Smith, 17% of shoppers experience decision anxiety. They begin the purchasing process already overwhelmed, which means they tend to want to take their time when making that all-important decision.
So, never push the sale too vehemently at first contact. The hard sell, especially when done face to face, is likely going to backfire and alienate the customer, rather than serve as the beginnings of a mutually beneficial relationship.
Face to face interactions tend to go better when brand ambassadors take a softer and more thoughtful approach to sales and marketing. Rather than delivering a rehearsed pitch, get to know the customer and the reasons he or she is considering the product, as well as the purchase concerns that he or she might be experiencing. Don’t think marketing. Think connection. What will it take for the customer to like you, trust you and believe in you.
This usually happens when brand ambassadors make customers feel valued and appreciated. Face to face contact is an opportunity to win brand believers. But this is unlikely to happen if you’re being too aggressive or make the customer feel as though you’re sales tactics are a little too “in the face”.
Think event marketing and experiential marketing.
Event marketing and experiential marketing often overlap in terms of how they work and how they are defined. However, either way the marketing strategy is to deliver your brand to your audience in a fun, exciting, dazzling, moving, or emotional way. The idea is to create a face to face experience with your brand that people will not soon forget.
Here’s the caveat. Most event marketing initiatives fail to live up to the hype. A great example of event marketing where many brands tend to fall short is the all-too-generic trade show or conference booth. If you’ve ever attended one of these events, you get the point. Few companies make the most of these face to face customer encounters, and, granted, it can be hard to turn heads at an event featuring endless rows of vendors. Still, there are always one or two companies that get it right, whether it’s a compelling contest, performance or demonstration. They own the event because they deliver a great experience.
However, why limit your experiential marketing to trade shows and marketing conferences. Create your own brand event or experience! Host a themed party. Take to the streets with some interesting face to face marketing tactics. Partner with artists or musicians to help you create a unique face to face marketing event. Use the latest digital technology, like high-definition video and virtual reality, to wow customers at your next event. Make your own milestone marketing event or unforgettable experience and tie your brand to it.
The marketing experts at HubSpot recently highlighted 15 of their favorite examples of experiential and event marketing. Check these great marketing campaigns out. They just might inspire your next great experiential marketing idea.
Social media and email marketing should always be part of the mix.
We live in a time of omnichannel retail sales and marketing, and that must be considered when developing a face to face marketing program. Reaching out to your audience through social media and email is an essential component of any effective marketing plan these days – even face to face strategies.
For instance, your brand might participate in an event, such as an outdoor music festival, as part of its experiential marketing plan. If so, doesn’t it make sense to have guests post about all the fun and excitement on social media? Now, you’re leveraging the face to face contact you generated at the show and bringing it to a wider audience. They might not be experiencing the fun and excitement in person, but the impact of digital media makes it possible for them to share the experience and, therefore, connect with your brand.
Email is also a great way to follow up with prospects after a face to face engagement. If the customer makes a purchase face to face, contact them via a brief email to find out how he or she is enjoying the product. If the customer wasn’t ready to purchase on the spot, perhaps you sweeten the deal with an exclusive offer or discount. Or, maybe you contact them with some additional information that might prompt a buying decision.
Regardless, it’s important to remember that face to face marketing should always include a digital media component.
Face to face marketing works best with strong brand support
You can’t expect brand ambassadors to do a great job of selling face to face if they’re not backed by a solid marketing investment. People will naturally gravitate to a brand with an established identity. That means building a strong digital presence and social media following. It also means investing marketing dollars to create a clearly defined brand identity. Customers want to believe that every brand they engage with is legitimate. They also want to know what each brand stands for because people like to align themselves with brands that they feel share or represent their interests.
Retail technology – the latest breakthrough in face to face engagement
In a little twist of irony, the latest digital retail technology is now being used by countless brands and retailers to improve face to face marketing. For example, Mobile Insight®, a leading supplier of retail management software to leaders like Samsung, Walmart, Epson and Facebook, features a customer engagement platform in their digital solution.
Using any tablet or smartphone, brand ambassadors are able to instantly pull up product information like FAQs, warranty details, product features, pricing options and much more. Naturally, real-time access to this type of information can give brand ambassadors a big advantage during a face to face sale.
As pointed out earlier, research shows that the number one emotional factor among customers in making a purchase decision is validation. They want to eliminate doubt and boost confident in their decision. So, a scenario where brand ambassadors are instantly able to pull up critical brand and product information and answer any questions the customer might have – on the spot and face to face – goes a long way to assuring that validation.
For more information on how digital solutions can improve face to face marketing, as well as every other facet of marketing and sales, visit www.mobileinsight.com.
Mobile Insight® is the only retail and merchandise management solution designed to meet the brick and mortar sales challenges of high-value brands and retailers. Unlike hardware and software providers that focus on fast-moving goods, the Mobile Insight® platform delivers assisted sales solutions for more complex, interactive, and customer-centric environments. Combining data from in-store systems, 3PLs, employee and partner activity, Mobile Insight® enables informed, smarter decisions that drive sales and operations excellence. For more information, visit www.mobileinsight.com.
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