According to research conducted by Harvard Business Review in collaboration with British Airways, 87 percent of professionals think that face-to-face meetings are a must if you want to land business. And 95 percent of professionals think that meeting in person is vital for establishing long-term business relationships.
Dawn Hanson of Cleveland Heights couldn’t agree more.
The president and founder of The Fairmount Group, a marketing and communications strategy and management company, believes in meeting clients and potential clients in person, even if it means traveling long distances to do so.
“Our (company’s) preference is to include face-to-face meetings in our communications mix,” says Hanson, who founded The Fairmount Group four years ago.
Thanks to a grant that The Fairmount Group recently received from British Airways, traveling to meet clients won’t be such a challenging expense.
The Fairmount Group was one of 100 recipients of Business Opportunity Grants from British Airways. This multiphased campaign is designed to offer the tools small- and medium-size businesses need to make important connections.
“British Airways’ objective is to connect people globally, and, along with our partners, we’re excited to help these companies strengthen relationships and drive business growth,” Simon Talling-Smith, executive vice president for the Americas at British Airways, noted in a press release announcing the winners.
Each winner of a Business Opportunity Grant receives the following:
– Ten roundtrip business class flights on British Airways.
– Five British Airways cargo freight shipments.
– $1,000 toward accommodation at Courtyard by Marriott.
– Five Regus Businessworld Gold Cards to business lounges worldwide.
– A Canon PIXMA MX860 Wireless Office All-In-One Printer.
Hanson got her travel plans off the ground almost immediately after finding out that her company had won a grant. Her first trip to Helsinki had to be postponed because of the effects of ash from an Icelandic volcano. She rescheduled the trip in late May and met with seven potential clients in Helsinki. The initial goal, Hanson says, is to build European exposure for The Fairmount Group.
“Our objective for 2010 is to market our services to targeted countries in Europe,” she says. “Initially, we are focusing on developing new business in Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and England because our team members have experience working and living in these countries, knowledge of the local languages, and existing relationships with potential clients.”
Hanson worked in Europe for 10 years as a communications specialist for two international petroleum companies. She served as director of external and marketing communications for the Cleveland-based Eaton Corporation for five years prior to starting The Fairmount Group.
With about a dozen consultants serving small businesses, national nonprofit organizations and international corporations, The Fairmount Group specializes in strategic marketing and public relations planning, market research, brand management, media relations, marketing communications, presentation and media spokesperson training, graphic design, digital communications, special events management, and crisis communications. The company’s largest client to date is Microsoft Corporation; its most distant client is a nonprofit humanitarian organization in Ghana.
“What most of our clients have in common is a need to build strong brands, reputations and relationships in the face of some kind of opportunity, change and challenge,” Hanson says. “We strive to work exclusively with clients who share our commitment to social responsibility, education, economic development, diversity and inclusion, and a healthy environment.
“Our business is about effective communications,” Hanson continues. “And we believe, as communications professionals, that the most effective communications, whether making a new friend or meeting a new client, only happen face to face.”
Such a commitment to personable client relations is what British Airways was looking for in its grant recipients. When selecting winners for this year’s Business Opportunity Grants, the airline took into consideration how a year’s worth of business travel and face-to-face meetings would impact a business’ goals for 2010.
The list of recipients represents a wide breadth of firms and organizations with unique reasons for reaching out to others. In addition to The Fairmount Group, winners of British Airways grants included:
– Africa Schoolhouse – an organization working to provide access to education to children in remote parts of Africa.
– Moody Street Pictures – a Boston-based entertainment, communications and content-distribution company.
– National Center for Genome Resources – a nonprofit life sciences research institute.
– Pozzani & Associates – a branding and marketing company in Newport Beach, Calif.
– Seattle Chocolates – a family-owned maker of truffles and gourmet chocolates.
Hanson can’t speak for the rest of the winners, but her company is excited for the chance to turn 10 business trips into greater exposure for The Fairmount Group and a stronger national and international presence.
“Our ultimate business objective is to achieve a roster of crisis communications clients across Europe and beyond,” Hanson says. “I’d love nothing more than to have to travel regularly to places like Bali and New Zealand for business.”