As the US surpasses the seven month mark of COVID-19, it continues to play havoc on the events industry. Many annual trade shows, expos, and other industry events have been canceled leaving many B2B companies unsure how to market their products without the reliance of regular industry events. Many industry events have made a pivot towards virtual events to close the gap.
There is an undeniable novel appeal to virtual events, but the lower attendance and uncertain effectiveness of the new technology have kept many B2B companies from adopting in 2020. Can a B2B company replace the trade-show sized hole in their business development plan? How can companies use marketing to replace industry events and better reach their target audience?
Nintendo Direct and Replacing Industry Events
If the video game industry is any example, the answer is yes. The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the nation’s largest industry event for video games. Major video game companies like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft would show up in force carving out large display areas with various booths, signing opportunities, exclusive interviews, and product demos.
Additionally, each major company would have a huge stage presentation press release to show off trailers for new games and make product announcements to a live audience of industry contemporaries, reporters, and pundits.
But in 2013 Nintendo, a notably conservative company, passed on gaming’s biggest event. The reason for the change, according to the late Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata, was to “be able to deliver messages more appropriately and effectively … based on the various needs of different groups of people.”
The company had been growing a digital video announcement vehicle since 2011 named, Nintendo Direct. The videos were prerecorded and live-streamed for anyone interested to tune in. They include product announcements, interview snippets from Nintendo staff, and even small amounts of comedy. Additionally, they were often regionalized for different Nintendo audiences around the world.
Nintendo Direct has been well-received by the public. The success and cost savings has lured another contemporary, Sony, away from E3 as well. In January, Sony disclosed they would not be attending E3 for the second year in a row. Instead opting to hold their own digital presentations and smaller events throughout the year.
How can your B2B company replace industry events?
Replace Industry Events with Webinars
For 2020 the go-to answer for most companies looking to replace industry events was webinars. It still is the primary method most B2B companies are using to engage with people online. But, with most of 2020 affected by COVID-19 there is a growing feeling of webinar fatigue. And your audience may have hit the saturation point for webinars. If you want to engage online you will need to add some extra showmanship to your webinars, audience attentions can no longer be held by powerpoint presentation with voiceover.
Improved Webinar Tips
Improve your webinars with these tips.
- Pick a specific topic that has value for your audience, not just you
- Choose a speaker that is engaging, knowledgable, and comfortable in front of a camera
- Seize opportunities to SEO and promote your webinar
- Look for an alternative presentation method than the ubiquitous slide deck
- Get technical assistance to help your set up and monitor your webinar
Replace Industry Events with Produced Video
Even if webinar is the first idea that jumps to mind there are plenty of ways your B2B company can utilize video in lieu of an industry event. Take a page from the Nintendo Direct playbook. You can create video that features announcements, product demonstrations, and facility tours. It is also helpful to show the human side of your business, especially as people have less human contact these days. You can highlight an employee, put the lens on your company’s charitable giving, or show how you are trying to keep the daily grind productive, but fun.
Additional Produced Video Types
- Product animations, in-use footage, and technical diagrams with voiceover
- Q&A forum with questions submitted by email or social media
- Team interviews
- Client testimonials
- Case studies
- Convert blogs to videos
Replace Industry Events with Digital Marketing
With many people working remotely it is a golden opportunity to spend your industry event budget on increasing your digital marketing efforts. This is a good time to create more content pieces for your website and online dissemination through email and social media. Consider long form content like ebooks or white papers, which can be valuable gated content in your inbound marketing strategy. Long form content can also be divided into small content chunks for use on social media or for blog content.
With Q4 approaching and your fiscal year potentially ending you may decide it is not the right time to start a new marketing initiative. There are sometimes worries about marketing spending as purse strings tighten. It brings to mind the advertising adage, “those that can’t afford advertising need it and those that can afford advertising don’t.” Instead of starting a new project, you can divide the your trade show budget surplus among all your marketing allocations for an overall boost to your Q4 marketing.
While it’s more difficult to connect with people in person than ever before, it is paramount for B2B businesses to build their brand presence online. Search advertising targets users who actively searching for offerings just like yours. Better yet, you only pay for the people who actually click on ads.
This structure is one of the reasons pay-per-click search advertising continues to be one of the most effective and efficient forms of advertising.
B2B companies can also use social media ads to boost their presence online and attract new prospects. Social ads can be used to increase brand awareness or, like search advertising, as a means of lead generation. With the holidays upcoming and more people on social media it can be a good time to target B2B audiences that might otherwise be too busy to engage with your online advertising.
With people unable to attend industry events, email marketing is a great way to get your trade show information to prospects. The fourth quarter is a good time of year to overhaul your client database for email marketing.
Consider segmenting your databases and focusing on tailoring smaller rounds of emails to very specific recipients. Better targeted email marketing leads to a higher conversion rate for your emails compared to blanket marketing emails.
You can also look at advertising options with your trade publication emails and newsletters. More than display ads, you can work with a trade publication to have your advertising in their emails. Additionally, look for advertorial opportunities, where your company’s informative content can be included as a featured segment in the publisher’s newsletter.
Replace Industry Events with Bold Entity
We’re a full-service digital marketing agency helping B2B companies pivot their marketing to deal with COVID-19. Bold Entity can help you with video, email marketing, digital advertising, and more. We can help you finish Q4 2020 strong. See the Bold Entity Portfolio or Contact Us to learn more.