With the availability of data showing purchasing behaviors, preferences, and product loyalty, marketers are developing personalization strategies that are the basis for reaching out to both prospects and customers. “Reaching out” can include digital campaigns, automated email strings, mobile marketing, and, of course, social media across a variety of platforms. The blind spot in this quest for personalization is the fact that the ultimate personalization strategy already exists: the very human encounter that happens when prospects and customers visit an exhibit at a trade show and interact with a trained exhibit staff.
No chatbot can answer questions to the degree that a trained staffer can. And while “personalization” is a worthwhile goal—and currently risking becoming a square on Buzzword Bingo—its evangelists talk more about analysis than experience.
Marco Ricci, writing in PharmaPhorum, has this to say: “Consumer experience is driving a change in customer expectations, calling for a move away from traditional brand-centric marketing methodologies of the past” He then references a talk delivered by Steve Mason at Salesforce entitled, “Our best experience anywhere becomes our expectation everywhere.”
“Do Not Waste My Time!”
Ricci tells us that “the behavior of accelerated consumers now relies on three expectations.”
- Do not waste my time.
- Present content that understands my context.
- Present content to help me see clearly in a world of information overload.
Face-to-Face Beats Face-to-Screen
What is baffling at this point in the evolution of marketing is that marketers will commit to meeting these expectations without any recognition that face-to-face is infinitely more effective than face-to-screen. In the trade show exhibit, knowledgeable and trained staff can provide an encounter that goes beyond product marketing and embraces true personalization.
An apparent consensus exists that there is a movement toward making the message less about the product and much more about the customer. Particularly at a trade show, there is noise, clutter, and the presence of your major competitors mere steps away from the space you booked. Preparing your staff for this reality is important. Anticipating quiet, sane encounters like the ones they find, on a good day, in the field is not a realistic expectation. The random exhibit encounter means your staff needs to be able to switch gears when it comes to delivering content and providing context.
The Generations Issue is Overblown
In recent years, the emphasis on the different generations attending trade shows has been overblown. Providing an in-booth experience that doesn’t waste time, that delivers content, and that provides context is a task that cuts across generational—and artificial—boundaries to make attending trade shows worth the time and expense involved for the attendee.
For the exhibitor, the trade show investment is significant, but the opportunities are amazing. The potential for influencing the buying preferences of exhibit visitors is vast—as long as the staff understands the way the visitor experience needs to work. Data is important, critical, even, but if data analysis only results in non-human marketing efforts, personalized or not, marketers are closing their eyes to the sole remaining possibility for real personalization, for face-to-face encounters—the trade show.
Over the past few weeks, we have been discussing the importance of a trained booth staff. The white paper, The Future of Healthcare Exhibiting is Learning 2017 that you can download here, while it is specifically a study of doctors at medical shows, indicates the importance of a well-trained and well-prepared staff. It is interesting that according to Accenture Life Science’s paper, “Lost in Translation,” 74% of doctors surveyed said they wanted to learn more about patient services provided by pharma companies at medical meetings.
The power of face-to-face encounters, the value of information delivered in a personal way pre-dates data collection for better personalization, and the importance of a staff that can deliver relevant information is not limited to healthcare. It cuts across all industries, including yours.