By Daniel Hunter

Networking has increased within UK companies according to a new report. The marketing technique is now used by nearly 3 out of 5 (58%) companies, a sign that companies today prefer to deepen relationships by face-to-face contact.

Compared to a similar report last year (the 2012 Channel Vision report), networking has increased by 15% over the last 12 months, a sign that in today’s digital age companies feel the need to boost their relations with their customers in a more personal way.

The new report, Channel Vision — Version 2.0, put together by design, marketing and print specialists Catalogues 4 Business (C4B) questioned over 100 organisations within the United Kingdom. The report was drawn from a diverse mix of businesses, both B2B and B2C, and combination of industry sectors.

The report reflects that networking is second in terms of importance for delivering sales, managing director at C4B, Ian Simpson states: “A majority of companies within the UK have found that networking has become a crucial element to their organisation. Even though social media and digital marketing has been increasing in popularity, networking has become that much more important. People prefer to talk to humans rather than computers and prefer to receive information in their hand rather than in an email. Its much more personal and appealing. A catalogue therefore becomes a great sales tool for any networker.”

The report also found that almost every company that can sell off the web could sell by catalogue too. It states that 1 in 5 businesses don’t use catalogues, who argue that it isn’t appropriate to their business however, it highlighted that there is a need for catalogue and mail order specialists to educate the market and increase sales.

Ian Simpson says: “the importance of offline marketing has come back into focus for companies compared to last year. With such a heavy focus on the digital era, the personal touch of networking has been lost and undervalued.”

He adds: “Now that offline marketing has flown back into the market, it is important to remember that you, as a business, need to create personal relationships with your customers and continue to build your brand. If you integrate networking with tangible materials such as catalogues, you have a strong, solid system.”

Using catalogues as a brand builder has significantly increased, a reported 39% use the technique. While looking ahead, 38% of companies aim to increase their sales by up to 20% this year, which could be done through networking and several sales platforms. Using catalogues as a sales channel is growing in importance with 17% saying that it will be crucial in the next year.

Questions surrounded their current and future business as well as their sales and marketing plans. Within the report, views of significant players were asked with 13% of those having a turnover in excess of £20 million.

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