By Jim Terry
Industry events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, leaving a big gap in many companies’ marketing plans. Historically, many of our clients have relied on tradeshows as a primary way to connect to customers, prospects and partners, and they’re having to look for new ways to make those connections. As strange as it may sound, this could be a good thing for companies that may have become too reliant on industry events and tradeshows at the expense of a broader marketing mix. It forces those companies to evaluate how to accomplish their marketing objectives with different tools.
The way each brand approaches this industry change should be driven by what they’re trying to accomplish as a business. Having said that, here are some things to think about:
- Take a hard look at your company’s website and the experience it offers to visitors. It’s most likely your most important marketing tool, and now is a great time to invest in it. In the absence of face-to-face meetings and events, your site has become even more important as customers and prospects look to educate themselves on options available to them. If your site doesn’t deliver the right information and experience, your chances of success diminish. Pay attention to user journeys and conversion – your site can be as effective at converting sales as you are, if you design it to be.
- Research search trends and volume. Your customers and partners are searching for what they care about – like raising their hands in a seminar. Make sure your site is relevant to those interests.
- Increase your attention to and investment in social properties. More customers are spending more time on social media, and this represents an opportunity for brands. Invest in meaningful content that creates better engagement with the market. Resist the urge to make every post directly promotional. The best engagement comes from offering something of value to those visiting your properties.
- We’ve all been on a thousand video conference calls while working from home. I’ve found them remarkably reliable and useful in staying connected with our clients and coworkers. Some of our clients have expanded their use of these tools beyond one-to-one and one-to-few meetings to use them for both content creation and networking events. From hosting and recording industry discussions that can be used as content to coordinating virtual happy hours and networking events with customers and prospects, brands are finding new ways to connect using new tools.
- Participation in and sponsorship of industry webinars is a great investment of time and resources, given the right topic and audience. As customers look for ways to stay educated and connected to the industry, publishers and brands are leveraging webinars to fill the void. We’re seeing more participation and engagement in webinars that, again, provide useful, informative content that’s important to viewers.
- During this time, digital marketing has become much more accessible to more companies. In a recent blog article (hyperlink,) my colleague, Pam Watkins, shared the news that the current environment has dropped digital advertising costs by up to 35%. This means brands can get much more exposure at lower media costs. If your brand has underutilized digital media, now is the right time. There are more ways to effectively reach audiences with digital programs than ever before, and the prices are right.
In many ways, the current situation levels the playing field for brands. Big budgets lead to big exposure at tradeshows – big booths, big staff, big sponsorships. Competition for attention is fierce and is typically dominated by the biggest industry players. In lieu of that, all brands are looking for smarter ways to best reach their audiences. Video conferencing technologies are affordable and effective in direct communications with customers and prospects. Without access to outside sources and high production resources, the market’s expectations for video content is much lower as brands try to cobble together production. It’s rapidly becoming less about how big your budget is and more about how well you can connect to the market with compelling content, creating a reality not dominated by dollars but one that places a priority the right content. In many ways, it is back to the basics of understanding what’s important to your market, developing content, not as a commercial for your company, but that focuses on providing value to customers and prospects and then finding the most effective programs to get that content in front of the right audiences.
It’s entirely possible, and maybe even probable, that large, in-person industry events will be impacted for years to come, not only because of the current pandemic, but as companies adjust to a challenging economic environment. It’s imperative that we all adapt to reach our objectives.
We can help. If you’d like to learn more or just talk about your options, please reach out to me at