Marketing strategy

Local advertising in 2024: In-person customer events

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When we surveyed U.S. business owners for our 2024 Business Owner Success Survey (or, the BOSS Report), they told us that increasing their investment in local advertising was a top marketing priority for 2024. This article is part of a series that explores strategies for leveraging different types of local advertising to grow your business.

As sales continue migrating to the internet, it’s become easy to feel disconnected from your local customers and environment. One way to re-establish face-to-face interaction is to host an in-person event for your customers. While in-person events promote sales and support your brand image, they also complement your digital marketing by making your brand more tangible, immediate, and human to customers—and establish your business as a contributor to local culture.

What you need to know

  • In-person customer events involve meeting potential customers face to face, and can help develop your brand and sell products.
  • In-person events can also promote a positive company culture, contribute to your community, and collect unique marketing data.
  • Use an integrated marketing strategy to entice and remind customers of your event.

What counts as an in-person customer event?

In business, in-person events are special events that facilitate face-to-face interactions between representatives of your company and others. All attendees are present at the event’s location and time, and any materials (audio/video recordings, vouchers, unique merchandise) are only available to attendees. 

In-person events contrast with live events, in which all attendees are present for the time of the event, but can tune in remotely. A hybrid event includes both remote and in-person attendees. 

Each event can also be classed as business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C). In-person B2B events include trade shows, conferences, and networking events, and allow your employees to interact with other businesses, whereas B2C events help connect brands directly with consumers.

Why you should host an in-person marketing event

Support your brand identity and keep it top of mind

Ensure that every aspect of your in-person event and its marketing aligns with your desired brand image, and remember that the nature of the event and your stated reasons for hosting it are a signal of your values. Publicly hosting an event at all shows that you’re confident in your brand, and engaging customers in one-on-one conversations instead of anonymous digital marketing humanizes your business. 

Bring your employees together to improve company culture

Well-executed events aren’t just a way to increase revenue—they also offer a break from normal work, which can improve morale and company culture. Consider additional pay or benefits for employees working these events, and choose enthusiastic employees who will best represent your brand.

Bring local businesses together to boost profits

Join forces with other businesses to expand each other’s reach and sales. Host a collaborative event—either a competitive showcase in which you and others showcase similar products, or a synergistic event in which you and others showcase complementary products for one-stop shopping.

Give back to your community 

In-person events are a chance to disconnect from digital media, and to gather in the real world for a novel experience. Consider partnering with local charitable organizations to give back to the community that supports your business. 

Gather unique data

Meeting with customers in person allows you to observe behavior that’s potentially different from online behavior or written customer reviews. For example, customers may react differently to products in the hand than the same product’s webpage. They may also have competing reasons for attending the event or heard about it from different sources.

What type of event is right for your business?

When planning an in-person event, first consider your scale—individual events only feature your store, while collaborative events will feature you and a few other affiliated businesses. Or, consider whether you want to join a market event (such as a farmers market or large athletic events), in which many loosely or unaffiliated businesses appear.

Next, it’s time to consider the purpose of your event from a customer perspective. This will help you advertise your event, but will also reveal the benefit of the event to your business.

Event typesPurpose/BenefitExamples
ShowcasesCustomers get hands-on experience with products and receive a face-to-face pitch, which accelerates them through your sales pipeline.-Pop-up shops
-Stands (demos, sales, tastings, etc.)
Public relationsAn in-person PR event can be more fun and memorable than print or digital releases, which builds brand visibility.-Announcements
-Grand openings
-Launch parties
EducationalEstablishes expertise and provides knowledge/skills to customers, which they can employ when using your products.-In-person classes
-Workshops or seminars
EntertainmentCan draw a wider attendee base and creates positive memories associated with your business. -Athletic events
-Experiences and festivals
PhilanthropySignals that your brand is socially responsible and invested in the health of your community.-Community events

How to choose a type of event

Mix and match the categories above—for example, a concert whose proceeds go to charity, a product launch pop-up in which experts teach customers how to use products, and so on.

Consider who attended and who didn’t attend prior events that you or your competitors organized. While you should always use information like this to try and innovate within your field, with in-person events, customers are usually happy to attend a community event that physically brings people together, regardless of whether it’s a novel experience.

Should you consider live or hybrid events? 

Live remote events may be the most affordable option for a business event, but the lack of face-to-face interactions and physical atmosphere can make the event unmemorable, and it’ll be difficult to create one-on-one interactions with your staff. Hybrid events can make your event more accessible, though you’ll lose some of the impetus for attending in person unless you offer additional incentives.

How to use an integrated marketing strategy to promote your in-person event

  • Use a local advertising strategy to promote the event among potential attendees. Out-of-home (OOH) ads are cost-effective and reach target attendees repeatedly, away from crowded digital spaces. A guerilla marketing strategy can lend an air of exclusivity and local flair.
  • Use social media marketing to boost brand awareness among target segments. Your digital marketing should echo your OOH campaign. In addition to potential attendees, target people outside your geographic radius, because these ads still signal brand image and values. Leverage free marketing with hashtags and attendee-generated content.
  • Use email marketing to remind interested customers. Use your other marketing and web content to enroll people on your email list. Send reminders, additional information, and incentives which entice them to attend.
  • Reward customers for attending. In addition to take-home informational materials (pamphlets, business cards), issue some take-home merchandise. Opt for useful items related to your business, and avoid common, low-quality, or wasteful items. Consider raffles, giveaways, and contests exclusively for attendees.

Use sub-accounts to set aside budget for your in-person event marketing.


This content is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice of any type, such as financial, legal, tax, or accounting advice. This content does not necessarily state or reflect the views of Bluevine or its partners. Please consult with an expert if you need specific advice for your business. For information about Bluevine products and services, please visit the Bluevine FAQ page.

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This content is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice of any type, such as financial, legal, tax, or accounting advice. This content does not necessarily state or reflect the views of Bluevine or its partners. Please consult with an expert if you need specific advice for your business. For information about Bluevine products and services, please visit the Bluevine FAQ page.

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