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Last week STAR exhibited at the Northamptonshire Business Expo in Corby.  It’s always been notoriously hard to know how much business (if any) to attribute directly to this kind of event.  Are we just showing our faces and pressing the flesh?  Or looking to find genuinely warm leads?  Or just collecting business cards from people we can’t remember the next week? (Apologies if that last sentence offends anyone we met …)

In these times, when so much promotion is done via electronic media, is there any real value in meeting people face-to-face?  Particularly if it’s only for a few moments as they meander around the stalls, only stopping to talk if your confectionery selection looks tempting?

Personally, I believe there still is value in talking to people ‘in the flesh’; perhaps I’m just showing my age.  (See photo below of the ‘two old geezers’, as our marketing consultant described us – thank you – with Sophie, the newest addition to our team).

I believe the adage ‘people buy from people’ still rings true, even in times when a majority do their retail shopping on-line.

A Rather Quaint Idea: Talking To Actual People

According to research website gurufocus “The most common (B2C) purchases made online are for electronics and digital media, including video games, music downloads, e-books, computers and phones. The next sector is the fashion industry, with clothes and footwear accounting for almost one-third of online purchases. Forty-eight percent of people buy their groceries online, and 11% do all of their food shopping through an internet device”.

What about B2B e-commerce?  According to the statista website,B2B e-commerce sales via a website amounted to roughly £96.5 billion in 2015. E-commerce accounted for a 19 percent share of total business turnover in the United Kingdom in 2015”.  It doesn’t appear to split those figures out into products or services, but my guess is that the big majority is B2B products.

So, a lower percentage for B2B purchasing.  Why?  Most likely reason (I imagine) is a significantly higher ticket price.  Not many business services can be bought on-line for £19.99.  And if you’re an MD about to spend a million pounds on a new computer system, you don’t start by looking on Amazon.

Please don’t take any of this as definitive market research.  These are just my musings on the eternal question: does face-to-face make a difference?  Do buyers still want to meet (or at least have a phone call with) their potential service providers before making their decision?

My personal belief is yes.  And we’ve already had a couple of enquiries back from the Expo.  From people we met and actually spoke to: how quaint …