For many marketers, another busy events season is now coming to an end. Having recently attended a few of these events, I am reminded of how important the offline conversation is for building and cementing long-term relationships with customers and prospects. For all of the socializing, network building and content sharing that takes place online these days, there really isn’t a true substitute for the experiences and relationships that are built in person. As you prepare for 2014, consider how the “power of offline” can impact your demand creation and acceleration efforts:

  • Engaging conversationTap into customer themes and memes. Do your customers love planning for alien invasions? Are they self-professed marketing nerds, or fans of a popular TV series? Bring those common interests and passions to life at in-person events to create unique and memorable experiences for your buyers. Consider photo booths with costumes, videos with themed content, branded geocaching tours or meet-and-greet events with VIPs. When planning an event, think about how your attendees would answer the following question: “I’ll never forget the time when I…”
  • Recharge employee enthusiasm. Your front-line employees have a huge impact on brand perception. When you get employees off the phone and computer, and in person with your customers, real magic can happen. They put more than just a face to a name; they create shared experiences that humanize your organization for your buyer. Despite the sore throats and aching feet after an event, employees often return to the office with a renewed sense of pride and commitment to their customers, which feeds back into the quality of their work. Include employee planning and team bonding activities in conjunction with a big customer-facing event to build and sustain momentum. Consider rewards programs for employees to earn status at VIP sessions or after-event parties.
  • Carry on the conversation after the event. Don’t turn into a stuffy corporate entity after the event. Don’t go from baristas and fiestas to “dwhip” (download white paper). Proactively learn something about each prospect from the event and use that information to personalize the followup – especially after large trade shows, where many vendors are clamoring for each attendee’s attention. Consider using photos and fun survey questions to provide an entertaining transition from event to nurture. Translate big ideas and insights from the event into an actionable checklist for your buyers.

While many organizations are rushing to ramp up their digital marketing capabilities for 2014, don’t forget to consider how online and offline efforts can work together to multiply efforts in demand creation and acceleration. Evaluate opportunities for offline events and interactions in the context of your 2014 programs and campaigns.