Changing The Game: Communication For Hybrid Tradeshows

We have watched for months while the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every facet of our lives. On the long list of those impacted are the businesses that rely on the live event industry.

After losing face-to-face interactions that are the backbone of live events, the initial response was to convert shows into fully virtual experiences. But these substitutes were more successful at making us yearn for what was missing than providing effective alternatives.

That said, tradeshow attendance is under half that of previous years, averaging 20-40% for shows that are still active. Global events are becoming regionalized as a result of travel restrictions, and venues have limited capacity due to social distancing guidelines. With smaller groups of attendees and exhibitors at shows, virtual options for participating in the booth have become essential.

So, your organization is attending a “hybrid” event. Now what?

Get the Word Out

All the planning and execution in the world are wastes of time without robust participation. With differing safety advice, people may be inclined to disregard all upcoming events under the assumption that it’s not worth the risk. Communicating directly with your target audience is arguably the most important way to calm anxieties and generate interest in your show.

Here are a few ways you can provide valuable information to your customers leading up to a show:

  • Online Panel Discussions
    • Want to engage directly with customers? Panels are a great way to do just that. Gather veterans in your industry and company for a chat (guest panelists are a plus!) and invite valued customers. From email invitations to soliciting questions to moderating live chats, Marketing + Creative will provide support at every step of the process.
  • Websites
    • Make no mistake, your website will matter more than ever before. This is an appropriate time to make sure your web presence rings true to any statements made by sales personnel, email, or social marketing. Have you listened to your customers? Do you know what they are looking for? With our team of web developers and strategists, we can help make sure your website provides any and all information a customer could find at a live show.
  • Webcasts
    • Less interactive than online panels, webcasts are a great tool when you have announcements or other information to share about current events in your industry. From videography to scriptwriting, M+C is staffed to help you put on a seamless broadcast. Again, participation is key, and sales connections are a great way to gain participation.
  • Email Campaigns
    • Ordinarily, sales teams spearhead invitation activity through client visits and other methods of direct contact. With these options gone for now, email is one of the most effective channels for communicating with your audience. A well-planned email campaign can build anticipation by giving clients a preview of what’s in store for them at your show. Time, thought, and intrigue steadily build the desire to participate in hybrid events.
      • Note: GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) guidelines have changed the way companies do mass marketing. Now, we must be more targeted with our customer contacts or risk hefty penalties. Marketing + Creative will help you work with Legal and Data Privacy to ensure compliance in all your email communications.
  • Social Media
    • Once a flash-in-the-pan option, social media has become an important piece of your marketing mix. Inviting customers and other business connections to join the company page (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) opens another effective channel for engaging with contacts and providing valuable information, whether internet-based or face-to-face, pre-show or at-show. Now is the perfect time to work with our in-house experts to develop a strategy and content plan.

Our Venue Partners

Oftentimes, venues handle the bulk of pre-show promotion. In our current environment, we can work alongside the show and adapt their efforts for our own marketing.

Collaborating with venues is a great way to generate interest in your booth. The target audience of any show is really a collection of multiple companies’ target audiences. Think about that – you have greater potential exposure to your company’s offerings, courtesy of other companies’ customers and prospects. It is in everyone’s best interest to work together!

If you are preparing for a show that has a track record of enthusiastic attendance, that history is a valuable motivator for customers to participate in upcoming events. This is all the more reason to put your best into making the event a worthwhile experience that will maintain the loyalty of already faithful participants.

Parting Thoughts

At the end of the day, authenticity is the most important aspect of marketing in our increasingly hybrid world. Scrutinize every communication that you make available to customers, clients, prospects, and the general public. Eliminate inaccuracies, ambiguities, or discrepancies. Our live, in-the-moment culture is quick to notice mistakes and spread the word. Authenticity and precision are the best protections from distractions and diminished results in an otherwise solid marketing campaign.

Safety First

A common thread that needs to run throughout all of our pre-show interaction with potential participants is this – safety is the top priority in upcoming live events. Both in-person and virtual attendees need to be assured that we are working diligently to ensure their safety. Content that illustrates your safety measures should go hand-in-hand with all communications. When the pandemic is over, we want to make sure that people still consider the time-honored, face-to-face tradition. As we all know, there’s nothing like the hustle and bustle of a well-coordinated live event to see what’s new and to network with other professionals in your industry.

Whether remote or in person, participants are our lifeblood. We can’t succeed without them, and every customer-centric effort benefits us all!

Are you preparing for a hybrid tradeshow or event? Contact Marketing + Creative for additional support and guidance on making your next show a success.

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