Digital Amplifies the Importance of Face-to-Face Marketing

Digital Amplifies the Importance of Face-to-Face Marketing

By Dr. Jeff Tanner

Provided below is an excerpt from Dr. Tanner’s blog, He shares reactions to findings discussed at the AMA Educators’ Conference held in late February where he and other colleagues co-presented with CEIR’s Research Director Nancy Drapeau, PRC, to discuss trends relating exhibition attendee preferences.

Nancy Drapeau’s presentation on the value of trade shows at AMA last Saturday was not particularly surprising to me (no offense to Nancy, I just thought I was already aware of what the study had to say) – at least until she said, “Digital amplifies the importance of face-to-face.” In other words, yes, digital media is an important channel of communication for companies and of learning for shoppers and business buyers. But, when you really get down to it, the importance of that face-to-face communication is intensely greater. You don’t want to waste it and it’s not just random window shopping.

If you are responsible for a trade show booth, you cannot afford to take the chance on a bad experience. That attendee is there for a reason. That attendee made a significant investment to be there, both in time and money. That attendee wants more from you than the attendee of the past did.
Which is why it boggles my mind that booth babes are still part of some exhibit marketing plans. Not only is that offensive to half the population, it’s offensive to every attendee who is there to do more than get a brochure, which is most of them.

Further, Nancy’s data also show that large theatre presentations are not particularly useful, yet the last technology show I went to had about 15 percent of the booths built around a theatre. Ok, it was a small show, maybe five theatres out of 30 or 35 vendors, but still, way more than what people want. Do not give me the same pitch you have in a video on YouTube, I have already seen it.

Today’s attendee, especially the Millennial attendee, wants to talk to a real person, one-on-one, and preferably not a salesperson. They (and I have to say “they” as I’m not a Millennial) want to speak to a product designer, an engineer, or senior management – someone who will listen and has the power to change things, not just sell them something. This is the empowered generation and they demand to have their voices heard and that means someone has to be there to listen.

But isn’t listening to the customer a central tenet of today’s customer centric marketing philosophy? It is not just sell, sell, sell, we have to listen to the customer. Hah, just kidding.



Dr. Jeff Tanner, Professor of Marketing at Baylor University and Director of Baylor’s Business Collaboratory. To follow Dr. Tanner’s blog, go to:





For access to the presentation delivered go to: AMA Educator Conf – Highlights of Key Value of Exhibitions to Attendees

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