Attracting Digital Customers Offline

Speaker Dr David Bell and Wendy Gibson


At this year’s CEIR Predict conference, I was invited to host a session with Wharton School of Business Professor and President of Idea Farm Ventures, Dr. David Bell to discuss how to integrate consumer’s purchasing behavior between digital (online) and physical (offline) and what that means for live events.


Bell’s studies focus on how the Internet and related technologies are used to search, shop and sell. This presentation, “Winning in a Digital Economy,” explored how digital continues to change commerce and how the exhibition experience can be transformed to evolve and better connect with participants. As Dr. Bell shared, “The human component never goes away. It becomes enhanced and elevated by the digital experience.”


For the past twenty years, we have seen exponential growth in digital tools and online participation. At the same time, the trade show world has been looking introspectively at how to evolve in this new climate. Digital is impactful, yet only goes so far – physical marketplaces and live experiences have grown increasingly important as complements and accelerators to the online world.


Bell’s preview of his latest yet-to-be-published book’s B.O.S.S. model - a series of characteristics that define consumer behavior online and offline – included a discussion on the future interplay of digital and trade shows and how experiences will combine community with profit.


So how do we integrate this model into the conference, trade show and live event industry? We start with using digital to make the physical store, or in our case trade show, experience even better by amplifying the physical experience and then we work on elevating our face-to-face marketing efforts, so that our visitors can see, touch and feel how our products and services and benefit them in ways that matter.


Here’s the B.O.S.S. model - and how we can use it for exhibition marketing:



Bonding is defined as a close relationship that develops as a result of shared experiences.

BondingThat’s why bonding with a customer, not branding, is the key to a future purchase. Although brands can resonate with customers, it’s the emotional bond they have with your brand that draws consumers in. This is the inherent value of practicing experiential marketing and why it’s so important to make bonding with our attendees and our clients a priority. When we get up close and personal with the people who visit our space, and train our teams to learn how to really connect with visitors, we elevate their brand experience.




Orators are consumers that promote brands by word of mouth based on their passion, which makes the recommendation more authentic.

Orators are the consumers that promote brand by word of mouthCultivating loyalists is invaluable to a brand’s success, online and offline. In the live event world, there are many mitigating factors to consider when we imagine our event experience, but by engaging authentically with attendees in an authentic way, we can create our own Orators who will promote and support our brand off the show floor.



Showrooms, not stores

Stores are spaces that sell things, while showrooms are physical spaces that give customers the opportunity to experience the products, elevating their connection with the brand - customers get information online, but can only experience touch and feel offline. That’s exactly what we do when we create experiences on the show floor.

Showroom, not store



Data gives you a better understanding of how the consumer decision journey is changing.

Science--Data Gives You A Better Understanding Of How the Consumer Decision Journey is ChangingThis is where you really learn and understand your consumer demographics and buying patterns thus giving you a better idea of how potential customers will respond to your product offerings. At GES, we take our Smart Exhibition technology and apply it to the exhibition floor. Our product line includes Visit, an event registration, ticketing tool and lead capture set of tools,  and Poken, a tool that enables attendees to interact and connect with content. These applications drive engagement and streamline management, from registration to networking to lead generation.


Applying these practices to your show floor and to your brand’s digital presence not only gives us access to valuable information about our attendees, it also facilitates a more enjoyable face-to-face event experience from soup-to-nuts. How can you use these principles for your business?


STAY TUNED for more information on how we help our show organizers and exhibitors continue conversations – and promote bonding – with their clients and prospects.



Dr. David Bell is an award-winning professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and president of Idea Farm Ventures. He received his Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and is an authority on how to win in today’s evolving digital world. Bell is the author of Location is (Still) Everything and his studies focus on how the Internet and related technologies are used to search, shop and sell.

About the Author

Wendy  Gibson

Wendy is an accomplished leader with 25 years of experience leading marketing for fast-paced, high-growth companies. She’s passionate about global brand and marketing strategies and has an unwavering focus on voice of the customer. As Chief Marketing Officer, Wendy manages a global team including branding, digital marketing, demand generation, lead generation, line-of-business marketing, corporate marketing, social and digital strategies, client services and exhibitor services.

Follow on Twitter Follow on Linkedin More Content by Wendy Gibson
Previous Article
Give Your Launch Event a Big Boost
Give Your Launch Event a Big Boost

We’ve identified six things great launch events have in common.

Next Article
An Experts Guide to Planning a Mobile-First Event [Download]
An Experts Guide to Planning a Mobile-First Event [Download]

We’ve developed this guide to help you plan and implement high-impact event marketing programs.