Face-to-Face Marketing in a Virtual World

Having recently bought far more than I intended after being targeted by face-to-face marketers who clearly saw the sign ‘sucker’ printed on my forehead, I thought a lot about those old-school sales techniques and how they work.

There are good reasons why face-to-face marketing still survives. A 2009 Forbes Insight survey of 760 business people found they preferred face-to-face meetings and thought the interaction most critical for persuasion (91 percent of people surveyed).

It’s easier to get more of a person’s attention – even if, as I was doing, that person is desperately trying to back away. Virtual communications land up in that massive pile of Things to Do that we all get. The ‘to do’ often ends up as ‘delete’.

What a salesperson in a real-world situation relies on is the customer’s innate politeness. While it is easy enough to ignore the chuggers (i.e. the people who accost you on the streets and try to persuade you to sign up for a direct debit to a charity) if you do give in and speak to them, they see it as a victory. If you stop, you’ll probably listen to the whole spiel and then agree to the smallest possible subscription option.

So, even though many people hate chuggers and express annoyance at the charities that use them, and individual boroughs regulate their work, it is still worthwhile for non-profits to do so. It must be, right?

Another innate politeness technique that works is the ‘friends’ thing. Parties rely on this. One person signs up as an ambassador for something – jewellery, beauty products, kitchenware, whatever. They then arrange for parties or events through their network of friends, and friends’ friends. Put on some drinks and nibbles et voila! The perfect environment, friendship and obligation added to lowered inhibitions thanks to the alcohol.

The only risk is that the ambassador might find themselves crossed off Christmas card lists. Forever.

A marketing strategy for a small company needs digital marketing mixed with face-to-face interaction. I’ve joked here about its nastier aspects, but face-to-face communication incorporates many of the tools you can’t get in virtual sales techniques.

A face-to-face interaction uses body language interpretation – even if it’s the one where you spot your target desperately trying to escape, and you offer them a quick and easy get-out.

"Sign up, and you can walk away from me now!"

For polite and non-invasive marketing techniques that work, please contact DWD Freelance Marketing on dwdfreelance@gmail.com

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