Technology has changed our world today in so many ways. With easy access to the internet through data plans and wireless access points, knowledge and convenience are at our fingertips. We have applications to streamline schedules, manage finances, and get alerts to weather and traffic problems. We can Skype, FaceTime, and have GoTo meetings with employees and customers from anywhere without having to get out of our chairs. Technology has definitely made our lives more productive, including adding some new tactics to tradeshow and event marketing efforts.
Some people believe that technology has made our lives more difficult and to some extent, we agree. We believe that using technology without proper planning can be detrimental to the face-to-face marketing efforts that are so important in the tradeshow and event marketing industry. At the end of the day, people still buy from people, and we need to be careful about how much technology is used.
It is said the technology is neutral. The analogy is that a knife is neutral, it can cut bread, cut paper, cut a person, and cut a piece of hose. The knife does not care what it cuts. The intent of the use matters, but in the end, the knife is still a knife.
There are some people that feel technology is not neutral. There are undoubtedly many good and important things found on the internet, but there are also many bad and ugly things as well. The intent of the user matters here as well, but our human nature adds another level of complexity to the situation.
Conventional wisdom would have us believe that the user uses technology, but this is not true according to Norman Doidge’s book “the Brain that Changes Itself”. The book explains a development in neuroscience called neuroplasticity which has proven that our brain is modified by what we experience in physically measurable ways. It happens in the strengthening of dendrites between neurons and the reprogramming to form new functions within the neurons. So, technology tends to use the user or at least change the user.
Speed-reading is a great example of this. Once the brain has been tuned to pick up key words, the brain works more like a computer as it scans the text quickly to pick out the messages. Another example is when we learn to read and play music. The brain remembers the music and it strengthens the connections each time we practice.
The point here is that as you use technology and the internet to learn, experience, and recall knowledge, however at the same time, you are being constantly influenced and programmed through how you interact with it.
The internet and the technology that has access to it is a great time saver. We are able to research a project or topic before getting personally involved but this is where we see the potential for face-to-face marketing to be impacted negatively. People still do business with other people and the virtual world can never replace the human experience where we form lasting and meaningful relationships.
That annual Christmas card with the pictures, Facebook posts, and those e-updates we receive from relatives and friends are all examples of using technology to communicate with others but are they really as meaningful as talking about things with friends and family in person? Can’t those messages be tailored to project an image other than what may actually be going on? Aren’t those messages being sent out to many people at once like a newspaper article and not really personalized? Can those really replace the personal face-to-face conversations that build relationships?
From a tradeshow and event marketing point of view, the one-to-one conversations will always be preferred over a carbon copy message, for which technology is useful. Technology can attract people to your booth space to get the conversation started but it will never replace the face-to-face encounters where there is a balanced rhythm between speaking and listening and the conversation is sincere.
Face-to-face and one-to-one conversations entail human interaction that builds trust. We can measure the verbal and non-verbal convictions through gestures, tone of voice, and facial expressions. We can shake hands and evaluate the sincerity of the conversations by the parting messages. These are not things that can measured by technology and the internet.
Conferences, trade shows, expositions, and events are the physical means of achieving these human engagements. Technology can be used to create brand awareness, attract visitors to your booth space, and even start conversations about what you do, but it will never replace your personal connections marketing efforts.
We hope this information is helpful as your marketing team starts planning your next trade show and event. Please call us at 262-432-8410 or email us if you would like our help to balance the use of technology with your face-to-face marketing efforts.