Preparing for an Uncertain Trade Show Landscape

As your company prepares for this year’s slate of trade shows and conferences, the pandemic continues to cause uncertainty. Event organizers will be working hard to keep everyone safe, but flexibility will be key as changes occur. Some ways they may be impacted include:

1.    Travel or event restrictions

  • Organizers may switch event formats or cancel with little notice as COVID-19 conditions change. Lockdown policies may also prevent travel across city or state lines.
  • Companies with policies prohibiting non-essential travel may sit these events out.

2.    Limits on attendance

  • The number of exhibitors on the floor may be limited and assigned time slots may be required. As a result, more attendees may opt to attend virtually, placing a greater emphasis on online engagement, like virtual discussions and learning sessions. Organizers may also allow fewer exhibitors in order to widen aisles and accommodate social distancing requirements.
  • There may be fewer attendees, as companies opt to wait until the return of physical events.

3.    Cost and staffing

  • Reduced marketing budgets may mean some companies forgo participating in trade shows altogether due to attendance costs or staffing.
  • For many companies, it will be challenging to forecast branded merchandise or sample supplies, staffing needs or registration costs when events are in flux.

Each of these challenges has the potential to lessen exposure for your brand and can call into question whether show attendance represents a worthwhile return on your investment. So how do you plan a successful marketing strategy in this uncertain landscape? Let’s talk solutions.

Plan for an engaging virtual booth

  • Focus on offering engaging, value-driven content that will be useful to prospective customers, and make sure it’s front and center on your site. Make it downloadable and digestible for maximum impact.
  • To attract visitors, consider giveaways of branded merchandise or services or other incentives you can offer. And once visitors are there, be sure your virtual booth has an option to schedule virtual meetings with your team. This is also a great way to anticipate staffing needs.
  • After the show, you can reuse the content from your virtual booth via your main website or keep it up year-round on a dedicated microsite. It’s versatile way to get a little more use out of your existing content.  
  • Don’t forget to gather metrics from your virtual booth or microsite. This will allow you to quantitatively see how effective the show or event was at generating traffic and leads for your company.

Consider event or session sponsorships

  • Sponsoring a discussion or learning session can be a great way to increase brand awareness and position yourself as a leader in your industry. It’s also a good opportunity to offer knowledge from experts and thought leaders at your company. Afterward, you’ll have valuable digital content that you can repackage for social media, email marketing or your website.

Increase your digital marketing efforts

  • With so many events going virtual and more prospects staying home, your digital marketing budget is more important than ever. Consider increasing your budget in this area in order to reach these online prospects.
  • Send email blasts before and after the event that advertise your booth or the event sessions you’ll participate in.
  • Take advantage of social traffic by using the event’s hashtags to create social media posts for before, during and after the show.

Attend smaller regional shows

  • With fewer attendees, a smaller, more regional shows or conferences may offer greater impact, and more one-on-one opportunities than a larger event.
  • Smaller events may be safer and less prone to cancellations due to the lower numbers of attendees.
  • A regional event may be a more cost-effective option for your company, because smaller booths require fewer people to man and registration costs are often lower.

During a pandemic, uncertainty is the only certain part of attending trade shows and conferences. But by designing your marketing strategy with versatility in mind, you can ensure your company has a successful plan in place. Not sure where to start with your marketing strategy? Let’s chat. Just leave a comment below or send me a message.

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