If you’re involved in marketing or sales for just about any industry where traveling to industry events is part of your strategy, you’re almost certainly being impacted by the growing number of cancellations for large events right now. Many companies depend on these types of events to generate new leads, close deals with current prospects and connect with current customers and partners in person. Marketing teams are faced with a real challenge when a channel they depend on is removed from the marketing plan for some period of time. So, what should marketers do to address these challenges? Here are 4 tips.
Ramp up Your Other Lead Generation Efforts
If events are a core part of your efforts toward generating new leads, then you need to find a way to replace those initiatives. One place to start is carefully looking at all your other lead generation focused initiatives. Whether that is email, content, display, social, or some other channel, take a deep dive into each of these lead generating channels. Initially, you’re looking for obvious ways to drive incremental leads. Is there an opportunity to allocate more budget and attention toward one or more channels and have them pick up the slack?
The answer may not be obvious until you begin increasing volumes where possible (sending out an additional email campaign, etc.). Watch the performance closely and make sure your cost-per-lead for any incremental is still in line with your projections. One extra benefit of attempting to ramp up your other existing lead generation channels is that you may find that you can maintain the higher lead volumes even after industry events eventually become feasible again, improving your overall lead generation program going forward.
Leverage Digital Channels to Enhance Communications
Industry events provide you with a means of getting in touch with customers, partners, and prospects in real life. In many industries, these face-to-face interactions are invaluable to growing your business. Events typically offer not only real-world interactions but also the opportunity to conduct many of them in one place over a compressed time period. It’s difficult to truly replace these benefits through a digital channel, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying.
Certainly, video conferencing, chat functionality, email, and other digital channels provide highly effective means for connecting with your audience. Look for ways to personalize these interactions, making them relevant, and focus on those that are more interactive (like video conferencing) as much as possible.
Beyond the interactivity, consider increasing the rate of messaging across various channels. You may want to send more emails, messages on social media, etc. in order to help fill some of the gap created by event cancellations. Make sure your audience is hearing from you even more frequently, to help make up for the missing face-to-face time.
Consider Special Offers
Often, you might be running special offers or promotions around big industry events anyway (sign up at the big conference and get your first month free, etc.). Take this approach and apply it to your regular communications. You may even continue using the name of the conference as part of the promotion. If the event was canceled, then members of your audience are disappointed that they didn’t get to attend, as well. Leverage this information in your promotions and customize your special offers to address this with your audience.
In addition, you may want to dial in some entirely new promotions as a way to drive more interest outside of the event atmosphere. Use your imagination and come up with some engaging offers to increase lead generation, sign-ups, sales, etc.
Test New Channels Aggressively
Chances are there are some marketing channels and tactics that you have wanted to test, but just haven’t gotten to – possibly because you have a lot of time devoted to planning, organizing, attending, and managing events. Now that this time has potentially been freed up, one place to reallocate it is toward testing new programs.
Especially in the digital realm, it seems like new social channels or other methods of communication are launched and gain traction every month. Whoever heard of Tik Tok until the last month or two? To be clear, not every new channel will prove effective or is even worthwhile testing. However, when you can identify that your target audience is using or is reachable on one of these new platforms then it is worth exploring whether there might be an opportunity to add a new tool to your arsenal.
None of these ideas is guaranteed to truly replace the ROI you gained from your industry event marketing initiatives, but this time still provides an opportunity for smart marketers to further dial in or even expand their strategies.