A great story to tell

29th March 2007

This month’s piece is going to make some readers think that I’m ‘stating the bleeding obvious’ but recent events in other media channels have presented our industry with a golden opportunity to trumpet far and wide the value of face to face events.
What I’m referring to is the news that various TV programmes have been less than honest with the way in which they have handled phone-in competitions.
What struck me about the affair was just how invisible and unmeasurable so many business dealings are nowadays. With the growth in computer and telecommunications technology we think nothing of making premium rate phone calls or staring at a screen in our houses to source information and products.
What is lacking, this is the obvious bit, is that all-important notion of social contact.
This works on so many levels. There is the sinister aspect where companies have charged people too much for a service even after the thing they were punting had ceased. You wonder how many more examples of this there are that will never be exposed.
Then there is the simple idea of to what extent the message you’re trying to get across is actually seen by the people you’re targeting. Do companies really know how effective a press advertising campaign has been? When you advertise on the radio how reliably can you measure return against your investment and the audience figures?
Supporters of these channels will have firm statistics to demonstrate their effectiveness but, as we know, a sale is often the result of a combination of many different marketing strands and this fact makes it difficult to attribute success to any particular one.
What is certain is that it is only in the live events arena that you can look into people’s eyes. Whether that event is an exhibition, conference, corporate event or product launch, the buyer has the superb opportunity to actually ask questions and make an assessment based on live interaction rather than something virtual.
Well documented too is what this interaction leads to in terms of relationships, the old ‘people buy from people they like’ maxim.
There, as I said, pretty obvious stuff but in a world where even Blue Peter isn’t immune from the sort of ‘creativity’ I mentioned earlier, we have surely got a great story to tell people who may be concerned by what’s going on in other parts of the media mix.