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mericans covetously scarf up the newest, trendiest, techno baubles and quickly discard them the moment something newer, faster, tinier, or techier becomes available. From iPads to smart phones, we instantaneously adopt any technology we can get our hands on and behave a little like tech-addicted teenagers with ADD.

But as consumers rapidly adopt and discard various technologies, exhibit and event professionals are left desperately trying to keep up. Since most exhibits are designed and built over a span of several months, what's considered "in" today is likely to be history by the time it actually makes its appearance on the trade show floor. And because most techno tools come with relatively hefty price tags, marketers have to be careful when selecting which high-tech, high-ticket items to put on their wish lists.

To learn how exhibit- and event-related technologies are impacting face-to-face marketers, EXHIBITOR issued the 2010 Marketing Technology Survey. The research, sponsored by Lynch Exhibits Inc. and Alliance Tech, sheds light on which technologies are being adopted by exhibit and event marketers, what corporate objectives they're helping users to achieve, and which tools offer the most face-to-face marketing potential.

According to the survey, 82 percent of respondents currently incorporate technology into their marketing efforts, with 72 percent using various technologies to specifically enhance their exhibit-marketing programs (compared to just 49 percent who report incorporating technology into their companies' corporate events).

The most popular technologies used to enhance exhibit-marketing efforts range from social media and show-specific microsites to touchscreens and interactive kiosks. But a fair percentage of respondents are also exploring radio-frequency identification (RFID), mobile apps, 2-D barcodes (aka jag tags), interactive projection, and personal URLs (aka PURLs).

Just under a third of exhibit managers who are using these technologies proactively establish measurable objectives to gauge their effectiveness, but 77 percent of those that do report the technologies they used met or exceeded their initial expectations. Furthermore, respondents who have used various technologies to enhance their marketing efforts indicate that those technologies have led to increases in brand awareness, sales leads, booth traffic, and event attendance, as well as improved relationships with clients and prospects.

Those who are not currently harnessing the power of high-tech apps and elements report that a lack of internal resources (both in terms of manpower and budget), a lack of knowledge on available technologies, and a lack of time to explore those technologies is holding them back.

Still, despite the reluctance of some, respondents almost uniformly understand the efficacy of high-tech trappings. When asked how they personally view technology in the context of exhibit and event marketing, a whopping 98 percent indicated that technology has "limitless" or "moderate" potential. Furthermore, 79 percent expect the importance of technology as a marketing tool to increase "strongly" or "somewhat" in the coming year, and 54 percent anticipate spending more on marketing-related technologies in 2011 than they did in 2010.

The following statistics and analysis represent some of the highlights culled from the 2010 Marketing Technology Survey, along with respondents' quotes regarding their opinions on marketing-related technologies. E

ABOUT THE RESEARCH
The survey was conducted by Exhibitor Media Group, and sponsored by Lynch Exhibits Inc. and Alliance Tech. The e-mail invitation generated 144 qualified and usable responses. As an incentive, the invitation offered survey participants an executive summary of the results when available, and a chance to win one of two $100 gift cards. For more information, including full survey results, visit www.ExhibitorOnline.com/Research.


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