The Coronavirus outbreak has led to event postponements across the globe, impacting businesses who rely on them to generate leads, strengthen relationships and maintain visibility within their sectors. Nichola Reeder at 12th Man Solutions discusses how businesses can keep in touch with audiences and improve their potential success at the re-scheduled event.
We understand there will be many of you who have spent the last 6-12 months preparing for a big industry trade show this spring, only to have it postponed or cancelled. Whilst none of us should underestimate the need for governments around the world to take the necessary measures to keep people safe, we also know it’ll be disappointing, frustrating and worrying for anyone who has already invested significant time and money.
But, you’re not the only ones who’ll be disappointed – visitors will have been looking forward to meeting suppliers, learning new insights, spotting innovations in the market and finding solutions to help build their own business. Yet none of that need stop just because, for now at least, the doors are closed. So, what can you do to keep in touch with your audience and ensure they’re eager to meet you when the show opens?
1. Be Part of the Organiser’s Comms Plan
The organisers will also be thinking of lots of ways to keep their audience engaged and interested in their event – from hosting virtual networking sessions, to running industry seminars and webinars, to Fun Friday Pub Quizzes. We’ve seen a whole host of ways they are trying to reach people. Make sure you know what the organiser for your event is planning, and that you’re part of the solution.
2. Be Part of Social Media Conversations
Something everyone can do from the safety of their home office is start a social media conversation – that includes listening to the audience as well as broadcasting to them. So often, exhibitor social media revolves around telling visitors a stand number and inviting them along – it doesn’t offer much in the way of value or engagement. But now’s the time to start listening to and interacting with your audience – for example, choose the top 10 organisations you’d like to meet at the show and pro-actively follow their feeds, listening to what they’re saying and responding without selling. It’s a great way to start relationships that can be brought to life on the show floor.
3. Maximise Trade Press
Industry magazines and websites are where many businesses are going to get the latest updates and information relevant to their sector, so it’s a great way to start conversations with your target audience. We are hearing that some printers are closing and magazines won’t be distributed, but many publishers are moving everything on-line and looking for great content. If you can spare some budget (digital marketing is really efficient) then it would help to boost your coverage and visibility, but as long as you have something relevant and value adding to say, journalists would be happy to hear from you. And with businesses looking for advice on how to bounce back from the current challenges, you could be perfectly placed to provide a solution.
4. Say Hello via LinkedIn
This is a great time to check you really understand who you’re looking to talk to when the show opens – what’s their job title and where do they work? Once you know who your target audience is, why not look them up on LinkedIn and send them a message to say you were really looking forward to meeting them at the show and would they like to connect? We’re all missing human contact and it’s likely that many people will welcome (e)meeting new people who can help and add value to their business – and if you’ve got your targeting right then you’ll definitely be able to do that.
5. Perfect your Proposition
There’s nothing like breathing space and some reflection to give you some clarity, so take a step back from your stand design and critically review it. Will visitors quickly and easily know the solution you provide? Is it a solution they definitely need? Could you drop 40% of the text on your graphics and still make your point? A little distance from the pressure of exhibition prep might just give you a new insight that helps you engage better with your audience when the doors open – in fact, you might even go as far as asking one of your new LinkedIn contacts for their feedback on your design.
So just because the show doors aren’t open, doesn’t mean the opportunity for talking to visitors is closed. Just because we are all currently facing a new set of challenges doesn’t mean the old ones have gone away, and visitors will still be looking for solutions to the problems they had before your event was postponed. And if you can add value and engage now when you can’t even meet, just think of the conversations you’ll be able to have once you’re finally face-to-face.
Good Luck and Happy Exhibitioning!