So Your Trade Show’s Been Cancelled …

author: Gail Burnside

Written by: Gail Burnside

VP, Business Development + Marketing


  • Best Practices
  • Creative

There are still great ways to connect with your customers

Every day it seems like we hear about another industry event that is cancelled, postponed, or moved to a virtual setting. The year 2020 is shaping up to be trade show-free year. And that is particularly unfortunate for those of us in business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing, who count on these events to see our customers face-to-face, to make a splash with the industry press, and to bring new products to market.

The bad news is that you won’t be rubbing elbows with clients at that trade show this year. The good news is that you now have a lot of newly available marketing budget and flexibility to reach those customers.

However, what looks like a problem at first blush might actually be an opportunity. For years, our B2B clients have bemoaned the amount of time and money they spend on their trade shows—often with an ROI that is difficult to justify. This year, the bandage has been ripped off. The bad news is that you won’t be rubbing elbows with clients at that trade show this year. The good news is that you now have a lot of newly available marketing budget and flexibility to reach those customers. And you know where they’re at—more than ever before, they are right on the other side of that computer/phone screen.

Web Presence is More Important Than Ever

With everyone trapped in their home offices, your customers are spending more time behind a screen. As such, your first move is to make sure that your website is at its best. Your customers can’t kick the tires at a trade show, so they will be doing more online research. Make sure your website is up-to-date and featuring your latest products, with easy-to-access information they would normally pick up at the show.

Invest in Social

A solid, organic social media presence is an easy way to build trust from a distance. It’s informal and conversational—it is easy for your customers to engage with you. There are also great tools to engage with a highly targeted audience of prospects through paid campaigns that can build awareness, drive traffic to your website, and generate leads.

Launch Products Virtually

There is no reason your product launch has to wait.There are many ways to get your message out or spread the word of a new product to the media, customers, and prospects, including:

• Live virtual press conferences
• Webinars
• Live or recorded product walk-arounds
• Live Q&A sessions
• Facebook Live events
• Product landing pages
• Email nurture campaigns

Create Your Own Virtual Trade Show

Want to take it to the next level? Have your own 2-hour, half-day, full-day, or multi-day virtual event! It can be something as simple as a Zoom or GoToWebinar event that allows for large-group presentations, break-out sessions, and YouTube and social channel integration. Or you can use a full virtual conference platform, such as On24 or vFairs, which can have everything from turnkey attendance tools, a virtual lobby, virtual booths, networking lounges, “auditoriums” with scheduled presentations, and chat features. These more elaborate services can be pricey, but often not as pricey as the original trade show booth investment, travel and entertainment cost. The key to success: promoting your event well in advance.

Content Is Still King—And Video is the King of Content

In the digital space, you can’t simply schmooze to hold your customer’s attention. You need to grab the customer’s attention and keep it. Video is a great way to tell your story, show off the benefits of your product, and demonstrate its features. Keep video—and all other digital content—concise, high quality, and professional. Make your videos easy to find and reference on your website and on YouTube. And use video teasers in social media and digital advertising to drive traffic to your website or product landing pages.

Don’t let the distance keep you from reaching your customers. Reach out to me or your EPIC account manager to talk through your needs, and we can develop a custom approach to reach your customers with your story or product launch. We will reach them where they’re at…on the other side of that screen!

Work Hard and Be Nice to People


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