When was the last time you were out shopping and got handed a freebie? Was it great or do you even remember it happening?

What about the last time you were out somewhere in the middle of summer and got handed a free drink? It might’ve been something you’ve unknowingly remembered, and now you associate getting a free bottle with a good memory.

People love getting a little treat, especially when they know it’s free. While we’re bombarded with ads on our social feeds that we may skip over, there’s something about being able to interact with a new product face to face in the real world. Face to face marketing may seem like an old school approach to advertising a product, but it can work wonders, especially in cases where small businesses are looking to make a splash.

The right approach can help get the word out and make for a very cheap marketing plan.

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What is Face to Face Marketing?

Not to be confused with door to door sales, face to face marketing is where someone representing a business interacts one on one with a member of the public to promote a product or try to achieve a sale.

Anytime you’re out shopping, or get handed a freebie at an event, think of that as face to face marketing.

Online giant HubSpot noted that 68% of people prefer networking face to face over online. The majority of us still prefer human interaction over looking at a screen trying to grab our attention.

Getting our attention

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When new products come out, it’s all about brand activation. This is where you put a product in front of the right audience at the right time. As UK based marketing company Acwyre puts it, “through a well thought-out…campaign, you can get in touch with more customers to…build a loyal customer base”.

The easiest example of this is when you’re out and about in town and see a company giving away some freebies on a hot day. This would be the likes of Red Bull or Coca Cola or an ice cream company dishing out something cold to passers-by.  In days gone by, you would walk up and get handed a can of soft drink from a bag or box. Nowadays though, brands have to work harder to guarantee face to face marketing is positive.

Coca Cola has a fantastic example of how to do this. Summer 2016 seen them launch the zero sugar version of their drink in the UK, and to get people interested, they handed out free cans as long as a person would share a selfie of them drinking it in front of a massive inflatable coke bottle. They managed to get people to promote the product without paying for the reach. It shows how you can market a new product without making it look like marketing.

Marketing without marketing

East Lothian Courier: credit: Google imagescredit: Google images

The biggest hurdle any business has, no matter what size they are, is trying to get attention. In the same way a big food brand like Coca Cola will try and launch for a campaign to garner attention, a local hotel or restaurant might have a like/share/retweet/comment  (the list goes on) competition for a meal or voucher to boost the reach of their name.

These are ways to try and market a product or business without actual marketing. For a small business in 2019, this should be how they approach face to face marketing. Simple ways to get people excited about face to face marketing include having pictures taken in front of merchandise, offering something special with a product, promoting the exclusivity of a new product or making interactions genuine.

The pitfalls of face to face marketing

There are some traps to avoid when it comes to face to face marketing that need to be avoided. We’ve all encountered someone trying to sell us a product, and you can tell they don’t really know what you’re talking about.

When you’re promoting out in the real world, you want to:

  • Seem like you know your product inside and out
  • Make the product seem special
  • Make the product look fun by having your setup looking inviting
  • Ask for honest feedback
  • Don’t have a tenuous link to promote your product

You want a potential customer to walk away from their face to face experience thinking it was useful, rather than just handing over a product they might put in the nearest bin. If you have a business that provides a service, make sure the interaction has context.

Does face to face marketing even work?

We’re all guilty of walking by someone trying to get our attention on the high street with a “sorry too busy” or pretending we’re on our phones, but you’d be surprised how effective this style of marketing still is in this day and age. People really do prefer to put a face to a product and have someone tell them about it, rather than blindly advertising and hoping it catches enough eyes.

Because people these days are wiser to advertising and know when they’re being sold something, this type of marketing works best when the public (your potential customer) isn’t being led right to checkout to buy something.

People want a little personality and experience with their products. Putting a smile on it is still the best approach in real life.

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