There was a recent and unsettling article in the Wall St. Journal about the clash of the new media technologies ramming into old ad agency cultures. Being really good with GRPs, TRPs, day-parts, Households using TV, ratings and audience shares doesn’t seem to have the same value it use to. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing this, if you don’t understand algorithms for automated real-time media bidding and social media, you’re going to be a dinosaur soon. Point is that new media planning and buying is getting beyond my own ability to understand what’s going on. More and more really good, experienced ad pros are saying, “What the hell is going on?” How do we plan in this new technology environment? I’ll leave it to others to ponder.
But ponder this. These new communications technologies are creating greater separation between clients and their agencies; clients and their customers. We don’t even need to talk to each other anymore. It’s email and text. And now with Skype and iChat, we can avoid each other for years. This isn’t a good thing.
Back in the early 19th century, mountain men and fur trappers came down from the high country to sell their furs to fur traders at annual events they called Rendezvous. A lot of buying and selling was done, old friends hooked up and they had a pretty good time. They went to a trade show. Someone once said that fully half the reason you hire a creative services firm is because you like them. The other half is the stuff you tell your boss to justify the decision. Face to face, handshake stuff still counts—just like it did back in 1825. It’s at a trade show where you meet, and where you reconnect. People will agree to things when they’re sitting down with you at a show, that they often would not have even read about online. Go ahead and learn and use the new technologies, but take the time and expense to recharge key relationships at a show.
Even though the date on this is 2013, it seems tremendously important today, maybe as much as ever. Look someone in the eye and chat, seems old school but it should be “now school”. Human interaction is a great way to learn, about yourself, your ability to listen, speak and think about others. The needs of a client are never old school, and trade shows provide a great way to listen and learn about prospects, who could then become clients.
Trade shows are valuable, and should not be underestimated.