Upcoming Trade Show Cancelled Due to COVID-19?

Posted On: March 17, 2020 by Steve Condit

Top 10 Marketing and Sales Tactics You Can Use to Attract Customers

You’ve been planning this for months. You set aside a sizeable portion of your budget to create a formidable presence at an upcoming trade show. Your booth infrastructure perfectly complements your brand. Your merchandise looks terrific. Team members have brainstormed killer ideas for promotions and practiced their pitches. You even have a one-of-a-kind mascot. And then, the excitement crashes before it can peak. The trade show is cancelled among hundreds of other activities and events being cancelled to prevent the spread of the Corona virus COVID-19 pandemic.

News reports say that trade show cancellations and rescheduling of events is causing revenues and profits to plummet, globally. Businesses that are new startups or have been around but are struggling to expand and grow, are now facing the threat of remaining viable. In the absence of opportunities to meet with new and existing customers through trade shows, these businesses are under immense pressure to find new ways to stay afloat.

Many businesses face a compound problem because larger companies have barred external visitors from their headquarters and manufacturing plants.  Similarly, companies are telling employees to work from home so in-person cold calling is not an option, either.

It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom though. While some may not be as effective as an in-person sales pitch, here are some sales and marketing tactics to consider until we return to business as usual.

  1. Get access to Dun & Bradstreet Hoovers Database for direct sales and direct marketing. You can purchase a license to D&B and share it with your sales and marketing teams even if they work temporarily from home.  That pet food manufacturing expo you were hoping to exhibit at but was just cancelled?  You can view and download company and contact information on over 73 pet food manufacturers that have 500 or more employees in North America. Do you also want to target growth industries or companies – say Kohler Co? (after all, that toilet paper has got to go somewhere).  Out of the 2,595 Kohler contacts in the D&B database, 674 are engineers. Are you currently doing business with U-Line Corporation but want to view the other 370 sister companies under The Middleby Corporation umbrella? D&B has that info along with email addresses and more.
  1. Prospect and advertise on social media, especially LinkedIn for B2B purposes. You can create a LinkedIn ad campaign targeting titles, industries and keywords in specific geographic areas.  The tracking of website visitors including job functions from LinkedIn is outstanding. In addition to advertising, you can also take advantage of invitations and personalized messages.  LinkedIn messages have an average open rate of 70% vs. 20% for email.
  1. Content syndication. Similar to LinkedIn PPC ads, content syndication is a pay-per-lead channel used to generate new sales leads. You basically publish gated content such as a white paper on a network of 15,000+ web properties. You determine the criteria for your ideal prospect and only pay for the leads that match your target market. These are considered opt-in leads and can be used for future marketing and sales purposes.  Furthermore, these leads can be sent to sales as a warm lead.
  1. Arrange video chats. From GoToMeeting to Zoom to Skype, there are plenty of free and paid options. Here at MMC, we prefer meeting through Microsoft Teams.
  1. Direct mail. To improve tracking and conversions, many of our clients are utilizing a multi-channel method of pairing direct mail with online display advertising. BOGO offers, mail-in coupons, one-day discount deals, loyalty or rewards points limited offers, and so on, are great ways to make your direct mailers and online ads stand out.
  1. Inbound or content marketing. Content—in written, graphical and video formats—serves as the cornerstone of your lead generation campaigns.  The idea is to write content that speaks about solving a potential client’s pain or need. This content generates website traffic from the search engines. Examples of gated content are 2,500+ word white papers or eBooks that prompt the reader to provide their contact information prior to downloading.
  1. Email marketing using vertical lists from D&B or publishers. MMC has a client that does a lot of email marketing though Design World, Machine Design and Mechanical Engineering. We are able to track the website traffic and resulting RFQ’s to provide excellent ROI.
  1. E commerce. Given the current dire need for smart social distancing, the crisis will only accelerate online buying and selling. If you are a distributor or a manufacturer of custom and stock products, ecommerce is a no-brainer.
  1. Webinars. Host online conferences, workshops and seminars that provide opportunities to educate, inform and answer any questions your customers and prospects have. You may not have that face-to-face meeting and handshake greeting, but you have your audience’s complete attention for the duration of your webinar. What’s more, they can revisit your webinar as many times as they need to, and they will always have your contact information—even though you could not hand them your business card in-person.
  1. Video marketing. Similar to eCommerce, the corona virus pandemic radically sped up the need incorporate video to educate your prospect and to demo or showcase your product or service offering. We have clients using video to educate their prospects on the basics of progressive dies, showcasing the size and machines within their manufacturing plant, demonstration a new software or piece of equipment, case studies, Q&A videos, meet the team or behind-the-scenes videos. So why is video marketing important? YouTube is currently the second largest search engine.  Videos are direct and concrete, easily consumed, and the SEO benefits are amazing.
  1. SEO, Social Media and PPC. The most important component to lead generation is targeting. The more ways you can target your prospects, the more success you will have.  Targeting based on what your prospects do, where they are located, what they are saying, what problems they are experiencing, what they are watching and where they have surfed.  The most effective digital strategies are those that use SEO, Social Media and PPC in tandem to reach your target market.  With trade show targeting and even face-to-face selling sidelined for now, it might be time to rethink the role of SEO, Social Media and PPC in your strategy to support your sales team.
  1. The importance of CRM and marketing automation for your business. As your marketing efforts increase, a marketing automation platform that integrates with your CRM will accelerate the performance of your sales team. Your marketing team will be better able to provide “sales ready” leads and your sales staff will have a clearer understanding of where each lead is in the sales funnel and where to best focus their time and energy.
  1. Local area services. Use a time of crisis to be a do-gooder and responsible corporate citizen. Find ways to help the community in the areas where you operate. Can your now idle company fleet be used to drive seniors to medical appointments? Is the excess inventory of perishable items better utilized for families or establishments that can use them today? Do you have products or services that can help parents look after their kids that are now staying home from school? Can you offer them at discounted prices, or even for free? There’s never a better time to be charitable, kind, and generous, than during a crisis.

In summary, eras change, sometimes overnight. So too must your sales and marketing tactics. For over 13 years our company has executed the above-mentioned sales and marketing tactics for manufacturing companies to help their sales team grow revenue.  COVID-19 may seem to be a monster we are all dealing with currently, but staying calm, working together and being flexible, will pay off. If you have questions or need help in executing one or more of these tactics, contact Marketing Metrics Corp.