Replacing Trade Show Leads

replacing trade show leads

In the medical device, optics and photonics, consumer electronics, and many other industries, a single first-quarter trade show can generate a significant portion of the year’s leads. Well, 1Q 2021 has come and gone, and many are finding that the virtual events have not been a sufficient replacement.

While many are still planning on in-person events later this year, we shouldn’t simply wait and revert back to a reliance on trade shows. What should you do to help connect with prospects and replace those leads? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Open new channels of communication

If you have not tried something new recently, now is the time. Many tools can improve digital engagement:

  • Add chatbots and/or live chat on your site. Create easy ways for visitors to start conversations, ask questions, or book a meeting with your team.
  • Increase your use of video. Video has become the most commonly used format in content marketing, overtaking blogs and infographics. (HubSpot, 2020) Video is a great fit for a facility tour, product demo, or live Q &A. YouTube and Facebook Live are two easy ways to get started.
  • Create a VR tour of your facility. Look at the success and familiarity of a virtual reality house tour. Tools like Google’s virtual tour creator can help.
  • Host a webinar. Choose a specific topic, create a panel of experts, or present a summary of a white paper. Regardless of live attendance, you will end up with a great video asset and a reason to engage with your prospect list.
  • Consider hybrid lunch and learns as part of your account-based marketing. For those prospect accounts who are back in the office, their team can gather together and meet with you virtually.
  • Above all, ask! Ask your customers and prospects how they’d like to engage right now and how they’re researching new solutions.

Don’t let skepticism stand in the way of progress

Tried one virtual show and had a bad experience? Try another one. There is so much variety in platforms, audience quality, and expectations, it’s too soon to categorically dismiss them.

  • Try a new organization or event.
  • “Pay your dues”—invest the energy and attendance so you’ll have more credibility as an exhibitor or speaker in years to come.
  • Test for audience fit. Try out new messaging, and test your prospect assumptions. Conduct some market research.
  • Try smaller, regional shows—they’re proving to have better audience engagement and networking opportunities.
  • Involve a broader team. By removing the cost and physical barrier of travel, you can be more inclusive in your training opportunities.

Launch it anyway

A product launch or the rollout of new branding has been one of the most challenging things to execute this year—many are feeling like the “air has been let out of the balloon.” How do you generate energy around a major announcement?

  • Utilize your product development team for live Q&A sessions, webinars, and videos.
  • Gather testimonials from beta testers or early users of the product—these make great videos.
  • Have the new product do a brand takeover on your company website homepage, social media, channels, etc.
  • Create a wish list of key target companies who would be a good fit for your new product or service and execute an account-based marketing plan to reach them. There is some prestige in getting the "first glimpse".
  • Don’t leave out the event aspect to create some urgency. Can you safely do an outdoor ribbon cutting? Technology roadshow? Mail VIPs a demo or "developers’ kit"?

connect with prospects