Your organization had big plans for your upcoming trade show. Then a crisis put those plans on hold. Whether you were planning to host a trade show or participate in one, that show may be canceled, postponed, or facing an uncertain future. One thing is certain: taking quick action can ensure all your hard work still pays off. With or without the help of outsourced marketing services for IT, here’s how your local teams can pivot your trade show plans to ensure business resiliency—and turn lemons into lemonade. 


Don’t cancel – pivot instead


Don’t cancel events that were originally scheduled. Instead, transform them. Whether you were hosting a large event, sponsoring a trade show, or hosting a booth, you can find a way to bring that experience to a virtual environment.


Think about how you can adapt the event to fit the current needs of your clients while still achieving the goals of your brand. It’s vital to maintain empathy and sensitivity to the current situation and reposition your event so that it remains relevant. Looking for ideas? Try searching “virtual event” on LinkedIn to find examples of what other B2B businesses are doing. 


Focus on your goals 


Trade shows are not lead generators unless you do a lot of pre-show planning. Tap into the plans you already made for your live trade show to help design your online event. What was your original goal for the show? How can you achieve that in the virtual sphere? Here are some ideas:


If your goal was to meet contacts in person, reach out in another way by creating an experience, such as buying their office a catered lunch and providing a “Lunch and Learn” video chat. Enlist contacts or service vendors you may have in common to participate in the event. This is a great way to recreate speaker panels that were planned as part of the original trade show. 


If your goal was to show your product, make a demo or explainer video to share with prospects and clients. Because they are digital, video assets have cohesive power to be used across different media and as part of other campaigns. 


If your goal was to demonstrate thought leadership through a presentation, record your presentation as a webinar. Encourage interactions between participants and presenters both during and after the webinar. Record the webinar to share with all participants later, as well as with those who couldn’t attend live.


If you were planning to deliver a keynote, repurpose that speech into the content you can use as marketing assets. For example, one speech can easily yield material for a white paper, checklist, infographic, and several blog posts. An outsourced marketing agency can help maximize your assets for the best results. 


Think outside the show


Trade shows aren’t just about the show itself; much of business happens before and after. You can achieve some of the same goals by networking on LinkedIn and industry websites. You never know who knows who until you look! 


Don’t forget about the cocktail hour. Social media content that’s entertaining and informative, such as informal, unscripted live videos or interactions with social influencers, can get the party started and help make valuable connections. 


Keep the conversation going after the virtual event by using email marketing to connect and encourage opening other communication avenues. 


With a bit of creative thinking, your organization can leverage your planned trade show event rather than canceling it and missing out on the opportunities it offers. Delivering a unique experience that generates a high level of engagement with prospects and clients will help keep your company top of mind and ensure business continuity.  


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