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Filling the Tradeshow Gap: Shifting your strategy during COVID-19

For many businesses, tradeshows and events are a main source of lead generation. As we are now well into Q3 of 2020, attending in-person events is still not an option for most of the world. While there is light at the end of the tunnel, any potential for large-scale events with thousands of tradeshow attendees is likely still a ways away. 

Early on in the pandemic, when faced with reality, we asked ourselves – now what? How can we continue to move forward and create business opportunities during a global crisis?

The answer was clear - adapt, adjust, and re-strategize.

We hope many businesses have already looked at creative ways to add pipeline during these times, but if you are coming up short, below are a few ideas on how you can help “fill the tradeshow gap.”

    -Create Exciting Webinars. Webinars can be a great way to share valuable content with your audiences in a safe, virtual format. While many have adopted this approach, most are not incorporating best practices to boost attendance and conversions. To get the most out of your webinar, make sure that you are presenting the right topics to the right audiences.It’s important that the webinar presentation is designed to help solve a problem or inspire attendees. It’s equally important to make your webinars fun and interactive. This can be accomplished by enlisting energetic speakers for your webinars, incorporating games, polls, or raffles. By doing these things, you are not only keeping attendees engaged, but you are leaving a lasting impression that will hopefully make your business appealing.

    -Write compelling content & blogs. Similar to webinars, many people are looking to experts to provide them with direction and ideas during this time. Writing blog posts, news articles, and/or whitepapers is a great way to showcase your company’s expertise.It is also a great way to build up your SEO! More than ever, people are searching the web for articles and ideas.By including several key words in your content, you are increasing the likelihood of being found by new potential prospects and growing your brand visibility. While getting them to your content is key, don’t forget to include a compelling offer or strong call to action at the end to turn your readers into potential leads.

    -Use social media to connect with audiences. Social media is a powerful outlet to leverage during these times. Now, more than ever, is a great time to post more frequently, experiment with different content types (like video or infographics), look at doing live videos/streaming, and listen to your followers!In addition, from a pipeline standpoint, a little research on social media can go a long way. For example, if one of your main tradeshows was cancelled or postponed – try researching that event hashtag and get involved in the conversation on social media. Odds are that there are people who are disappointed to miss out on the event and it’s an opportunity to connect, share your content, and offer them solutions to problems they were looking to solve.

    -Email contacts from last year’s shows. With many events cancelled or postponed, one of our favorite ideas is to look to your old lists of leads. This is a great time to reach out to contacts from previous years and re-connect. There are often diamonds to be found in lists from previous tradeshows.You have the potential to find contacts that maybe were not ready or the right fit when you first connected, but now may be ready to work with you.

    -Don’t discount virtual events. As the months go on and “going digital” is the new norm, tradeshow organizers are starting to learn what works and what doesn’t. Even if you had a poor experience with a virtual event in the past, or if you are weary on the possible results from a virtual event, take the time to evaluate it. Look at the shows that usually generated the most high quality leads and evaluate how you can get value in a virtual setting. There are many events that are offering dedicated emails to their registration lists, speaking opportunities, and much more. The opportunity to generate leads can be very strong.

Although many of us can’t wait to be back to in-person tradeshows and events, the reality remains – we are still living in a Covid-19 world. While it can seem hopeless, it’s important to remember that it’s not all gloom and doom. By adapting and adjusting your marketing strategy, you can still generate strong leads for your business.

Alice Skiba is the Tradeshow Manager and a Marketing Communications Specialist at Americaneagle.com. She has 10+ years of experience implementing, managing, and executing marketing strategies in the fast-paced technology industry.

Outside of work, Alice enjoys all things pop culture, following the latest tech trends, traveling, and spending time with her husband and 2 young daughters.

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