Over the course of the last few months, the ongoing and progressive COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly altered and slowly shut down our world. And the events industry is one sector being significantly impacted by this crisis.
Whether voluntary to ensure the health and safety of employees, partners, speakers, exhibitors and attendees, or due to government mandates surrounding large gatherings, events of all sizes (from small local meet-ups to larger conferences, like SXSW) have either been postponed or canceled entirely until next year.
For many companies that have invested a lot of time and money into attending any canceled industry events, it might seem as if all the marketing strategies that you had planned for them are now in limbo.
We completely get where you’re coming from and are here to help! Your marketing efforts are not all lost because your events calendar got changed.
Times of crisis call for true creativity. This is your chance to test those ideas that you’ve been wanting to try out. Pilot that campaign you’ve been thinking about. Get your team on board. Zen Media started during the worst recession in recent history, and we succeeded because businesses were willing to try what it took to get results. Necessity truly IS the mother of invention — and innovation.
Smart companies are seizing this moment to position their brands as forward-thinking thought leaders. We know this because, behind the scenes, we’re helping many of them own the moment, stepping up to serve a need during a time that truly calls for it, while elevating their position in the marketplace and emerging as industry winners as well.
Based on the successes we’ve experienced here at Zen Media helping our own clients, here’s a list of some things your brand can do to effectively replace any marketing and lead generation efforts you might have had planned for a canceled in-person industry event.
Don’t Be Afraid to Lead the Conversation in the Press
In times of global turmoil, information is gold. Every media outlet is covering news surrounding coronavirus, the COVID-19 pandemic, and their effects on our world and everyday lives. Your customers, your prospects, and your audience, at large, are all looking for your expertise and awaiting your guidance. EVERY single industry has been impacted. How is yours being directly affected by COVID-19? Are there any major public concerns that you can address? Can you help ease any worries that people might have?
Now is the time to do some serious digital PR to amplify your voice.
A manufacturing client of ours with facilities around the world, for example, had major factory delays due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We’ve positioned their leadership as champions of the supply chain. We landed them a spot on Fox Business to speak on how COVID-19 is affecting the global supply chain — highlighting their expertise and boosting customer confidence in them as a leader in the space. They now have customers and community rooting for them.
Another one of our clients in the restaurant tech space is getting stories published in multiple tier-one publications on how the COVID-19 epidemic is impacting the restaurant industry — while teaching restaurant owners how to cut costs through technology (which is extremely vital at a time when there’s so much economic uncertainty).
The leaders are emerging, while the pack is shrinking back. When the dust settles, who do you think will have greater trust — and market share?
Double Down on Digital
At this time, it seems likely that live gatherings and events will continue to be impacted for the foreseeable future. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t still reach your audience. In fact, this might be the most captive audience you’ve had since the advent of TV. With millions on lockdown right now, people have become more active on social media and interested in digital meet-ups.
Host a webinar covering a major industry topic. Get involved in a Twitter chat to network with other colleagues. Do a live stream Q&A with your audience. The digital world offers so many opportunities for you to effectively market your business.
Another client we have had a major trade show canceled. This is where they get all their leads. We are now running a live web summit for them. They have already doubled the number of sign-ups they usually get…pre-event.
Be an Active Member of the Community
Marketing your business doesn’t have to always be about sales. Sometimes, one of the best ways to spread the word about your company is by simply being a good, helpful member of your community and industry.
A SAAS client of ours, for example, is offering their software pro bono to schools and students who have been impacted by the pandemic and getting major press because of their effort to aid those in need. They wanted to help the community, and the community is helping them.
And that restaurant tech client? They’re offering to turn any restaurant or grocery store with or without a parking lot into a “Sonic”-like curbside takeout within 24 hours, using their technology — for FREE. This means that restaurants can let people order, pay for, and pick up their meals all without leaving their cars — a much welcome feature for businesses and consumers alike at a time when social distancing is so essential.
Check to See if Your Canceled Conference is Holding a Virtual Event
In the wake of physical, in-person industry conferences and trade shows getting canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many have made the move to offer virtual events. So be sure to check if an event you were going to attend is going digital to see if there may be some ways for you to get involved. Some may offer the opportunity to host an open public chat with attendees. Others might give you the ability to create a moderated expert chat session.
The ongoing COVID-19 epidemic is expected to continue in the coming months, affecting industry events and likely causing more cancellations in its wake. But, no matter your industry, there’s a connection here and an opportunity to share implications, reassure customers, increase trust, and gain new business. And your company doesn’t necessarily have to attend an event to do this.