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Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to business students at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
And it was a “ pleasure” in every sense.
In a historic room full of architectural character – stained glass, commemorative plaques – about 50 students and I discussed the power of my industry.
All eyes were on me, no cell phones, no chatter, this was a group eager to get the information they came for.
While they had some input into the content, they mostly counted on me to share what they’ll never learn in a text book.
At the end it was their turn.
One student asked me what advice I had for students today.
“That’s an easy one. Do what you love.” I said
Another shared that he was starting a business with his grandfather (how cool is that?) – a bed and breakfast in Niagara – and he enthusiastically absorbed our conversation about how to create a memorable guest experience.
A couple asked for my power point slides that showed statistical, impactful data. Happy to share.
A few asked about program measurement, how to effectively communicate with specific audiences, channels of distribution, importing and even how they could get started in the industry.
I know I was there for them but truth be told I was the one who was energized. It’s just so awesome to be engaged with these young thinkers!
The last question was about media in general. They asked what impact the internet and social media had on my industry.
I asked them back, “Would you rather have a skype call with your girlfriend or enjoy an in-person hug?”
AHA – we’re sensory beings
My industry delivers what I call “sensory media” which perfectly suits sensory beings. (We see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.)
While the internet allows us to communicate quickly and efficiently with thousands of people with the stroke of a key, nothing can replace our need for personal connection. And nothing will ever change about the fact that it’s “people” who buy, not companies, or demographics, or audiences.
I continued to answer that final question with the fact that during the recession some people/companies thought it prudent to cut marketing and recognition from their investments. (I guess they considered them “expenses”.) Technology has demanded that we move at lightning speed and sometimes we get so caught up in keeping up we forget to be human. Technology has afforded us instant communication – fast, fast, fast – but it doesn’t mean it’s always the most effective. Technology holds an essential place in how we communicate but it’s not the whole enchilada. It can’t be, because it doesn’t totally serve us as humans.
Gifting makes us feel good. It’s in our DNA. C’mon, name one person who doesn’t appreciate a thoughtful gift?
Gifts are interactive. They’re sensory. And they offer multiple impressions as long as the gift is kept.
So if your gift aligns with the needs of the recipient and carries your message, everyone wins!
I guess I could have told the students I’m in the “touchy feely” business … but then I likely would have had a lot more explaining to do.