For many of the last 20 years, I've looked forward, with a mix of fascination, joy, and dread, to the first week of January and the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for CES, an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association. While it's great to escape the cold of New England and spend a few days looking at some of the sharpest new technology innovations with friends and acquaintances from around the world, it is also a period of hard work, little sleep, and high expectations. Over the years, I've helped companies ranging from ARM and Samsung, to Dassault Systèmes and AT&T, among others, on product rollouts, news announcements, and meetings with key influencers.    

This year I had no reason to think about attending CES. When it was re-fit to accommodate the pandemic reality, switching from a live to all-digital experience, I didn't give it much thought. But as I have been reviewing the agenda for this year's all-digital show, and reflecting on the acceleration to a more remote, digitally driven society, it gave me pause to think not only about what we can expect from this year's show (and all shows and marketing initiatives, more generally) but also what we should expect to see long-term.

As a leader of a digital marketing company, I'm constantly evaluating trends in tools, solutions, influencers, and channels to give my clients a competitive advantage. For years, technology companies have relied on shows like CES, MWC, South by Southwest, and others to establish a beachhead for new products, publicity initiatives, and customer deal-making. Now, and in the future, increasingly this will be conducted via the web. Because, as has been said many times, even in a post-pandemic reality, it is unlikely we will ever return to the kind of excessive travel and grip-and-grin events that have defined our professional lives until now.

So What Are Companies To Do To Thrive In This New Reality?

First, invest more and more in digital presences. Every dollar spent will be an amortizable investment in the future of your overall marketing. Budgets previously allocated to travel, and live meetings should be folded back into establishing a digital brand presence, reach, and frequency.

Second, focus on pivoting your message. A recent survey we conducted of 500 B2B and B2C technology executives revealed that 88% of them have indicated trouble adapting messaging to a more digitally centric reality. It's critical to have digitally savvy messages, but also consultants who understand and have their fingers on the pulses of the evolving behaviors of digital audiences. That 88% should be more like 8%, at worst.

Follow the trend to more demand generation. Our survey showed that 73% of respondents are moving money there. That may be right, but it also might be too much. It is essential not to overinvest in demand generation while abdicating spend on the brand. At the end of the day, memorable brands that delineate a specific experience are going to outperform those that focus exclusively on demand and sales.  

Don't Lose Sight of  Behavioral Trends

And here, I'm not talking about automated analytics. Rather, human analysis of behavior and observation of trends is essential. There is no substitute for human intelligence. That has been the focus of Boston Digital with the Impulse Generation. Rather than identifying generational differences, we focus on similarities of content preference and consumption, and channel access in and among these generations. This behavioral analysis lets us spend money for our clients more effectively and efficiently.

In the coming days, we'll be releasing a detailed whitepaper outlining the findings of our survey. It's a useful handbook for any organization seeking to thrive in the post-pandemic digital reality of today and tomorrow. In the meantime, get to know and understand the content and experience of today's online conferences and shows. It's likely not a fleeting moment. 

Boston Digital Survey: Does Consumer Age Impact Mobile Behavior?