Photo Credit: Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation or postponement of major trade shows and conferences all over the world. For many companies these shows represent their major marketing efforts for the year. Carefully designed and constructed booths, much anticipated VIP parties, important meetings scheduled months in advance, and of course the buzz of the packed trade show floor – all gone in the blink of an eye.
While there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings and all the bonding opportunities afforded by a major trade show, companies still must continue to build relationships and get the word out about new products. The question is how?
Remember, all those prospects who planned on attending that big show are probably sitting at home, just like you. As the shelter-in-place orders have come down, many companies have had employees work remotely with regular check-ins using Zoom, Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams and other video conferencing tools. We’re learning that these digital tools actually work pretty well!
Companies should look at how digital tools can go beyond internal employee meetings and bridge the divide with partners, customers and the media during the era of COVID-19. If you have budget that you were going to spend on a show anyway, here are some digital opportunities companies should consider.
- Launch a digital advertising campaign. With the right technology you can accurately target and deliver ads to prospects. Digital advertising can be very effective for both B2B and B2C companies. Even if customers aren’t buying right now, it is important to remain top of mind and build brand awareness.
- Host a streaming video version of your major announcements. Don’t let the big news you were going to announce at the show go to waste. Hold an online press conference and invite your industry media. Reporters were planning on getting a lot of stories out of the show and they still need to fill their publications with content. There are a variety of live video applications such as LinkedIn Live, YouTube Live and Facebook Live that you can use.
- Host a livestream panel. One of the most effective uses of digital during the shutdown are panels or interviews where company representatives moderate and participate in a discussion by experts on a topic. Customers are hungry for this kind of content. Just make sure to test your system in advance and use a hard-wired internet connection rather than WiFi to avoid buffering problems.
- Substitute in-person meetings for online meetings using Zoom and other tools. You cannot shake hands, but you’ll be able to look each other in the eye and share a PowerPoint with your pitch.
- Think about upgrading your website and other digital tools. COVID-19 has launched a new digital era for business. This means it is time for companies to take a look at their websites and consider how they can be beefed up to provide the type of content that prospects are looking for.
- Keep your social media content flowing. See our previous blog about appropriate content. For companies that are not active on social media, now is the time to get started!
In recent years digital tools have matured to offer a highly effective and cost efficient way to reach target audiences. And with the budget companies were planning on spending on a major trade show they can invest in technology that will take their online presence to the next level. COVID-19 is going to change the world forever and now is the time to up your digital game.