You would have thought with the advent of online shopping that something like the traditional bicycle store would have gone out of fashion. Consumers can now get bicycles and components online for a fraction of the brick-and-mortar price, making the former seem like a no-brainer.
But this is not what you find when you go out into the real world and look at what is happening in the industry. Customers aren’t flocking to the online discount retailers. They’re still supporting their local bike stores. Why?
The factor driving this phenomenon has to do with the complexity of modern bikes. When consumers land on a cycling website, it immediately presents them with an array of menus and technical jargon most people don’t understand. You have no idea whether your chainring is 32T or 34T, or whether you should choose a BB12 hub or not. Specifications like these are the realm of experts.
Many cyclists, therefore, now have close relationships with bike shop staff. Whenever something crops up that they don’t understand, they go in for a chat. The result of that conversation is usually a sale because the customer trusts the professional opinion of the staff. And unlike going online, they don’t have to guess.
The power of meeting your customers extends across the whole of industry. There’s a place for online interactions, but the real magic almost always happens in person.
Trade show marketing is massively successful for this exact reason. When a client arrives at a trade show, they finally get to meet and greet the people behind the marketing. They build up a rapport that then makes it much easier to take the relationship forwards. It feels so much more personal.
Face-to-face meetings with customers and clients are distinctive mainly because of body language. PPC adverts on Google are, putting it politely, lacking in this department.
Body language, however, is a crucial aspect of human interaction and has been for many thousands of years. It is something that we use to tell us whether we can trust the person we’re talking to or not. It is vitally important.
Most body language is entirely subconscious. We’re hardly aware that we’re doing it – and neither is the client – and yet it can have a profound impact on the outcome of the interaction. It is utterly different from chatting to somebody over the telephone.
Clients Prefer Face-To-Face Meetings
The second reason that in-person interactions are so powerful is that clients prefer them. They would much rather talk to you face-to-face than have a conversation over the phone.
The main reason for this is that it makes you appear strong and confident. Agreeing to meet suggests that you stand behind your product and you’re prepared to endure withering criticism in person instead of safely behind your computer screen.
It also helps to put them at ease. Customers can never really get the measure of your via text or digital marketing. They always need to meet you in person to size you up and work out whether they want to do business with you. So long as you’re a sociable person, meeting the real you should be a positive experience.
They Can Find Out The Inside Scoop
Customers don’t just want to talk about your products and services – they also sometimes want to know what motivates you. They want to find out whether you’re in the game for the long haul and you believe in your products, or whether you’re trying to make a quick buck on the side.
Reassuring them, therefore, is vital. Make it clear that you’re looking to improve the world in some way, and you’ll build a lot of trust.
Customers also like to be able to interact with you on a less formal basis. Marketing channels can be dry at times. Everything is recorded, so you’re never truly free to say what you feel. That doesn’t apply to the same extent when you hold an in-person interaction with a customer. You can go off the script a little, especially if you own your business.
It Helps To Develop Transparency
Perhaps the most critical aspect of the entire process is that it helps to develop transparency and trust. It is easy for a company to fob someone off on social media or via email, but much harder in person. Building solid relationships, therefore, is vital.
Face-to-face meetings are also more powerful when you want to persuade somebody. Again, you’re at a massive advantage in person compared to over the internet.