COVID-19 is Killing The Event Space: Here’s How to Pivot with Digital Marketing
It’s no secret that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is having a significant impact on sales and marketing teams, particularly those that depend on in-person events to drive pipeline goals.
The face-to-face interaction that so many depend on to the network and market their company’s products and services is indefinitely on hold, and teams are scrambling to find alternative ways to keep momentum.
Additionally, this loss in new revenue is undoubtedly leading to leaner marketing budgets, which only adds to the pressure for companies to find cost-effective ways to gain new customers.
If this COVID-19 backlash is something you’re experiencing, we understand your struggle, and our sympathies are with you. It really isn’t fair, but keep your head up! Because trying times can lead to new, unique possibilities to find success.
It’s an important time to stay positive and remain alert to potential opportunities. The good news is that events are only one channel that can be used to drive leads, meetings, pipelines, and revenue for your business.
It’s important for businesses that depend on any in-person events to embrace digital transformation and start diversifying their efforts and messaging.
By investing in more than one marketing channel, you minimize the impact that losing one will have on your business in this new normal.
We suggest that business owners start pivoting their business model and some of their resources to investing more in a digital marketing strategy.
At Interrupt Media, much of what we focus on as digital marketers by nature occurs online. The beauty here is that digital marketing (content marketing, paid search, digital ads, email marketing, webinars, and virtual events, videos, etc) doesn’t shut down when a crisis like COVID-19, the NorCal wildfires, or the 2008 Recession occurs.
In many cases, it’s less work and you get the results faster. Not only that but digital marketing campaigns will remain valuable during and long after events like these are over.
So, if you’re feeling at a loss for how to pivot from your in-person strategy to a digital experience for customers that will sustain your business during uncertain times, we’ve got some ideas for you to consider.
Repurpose Your Event Content for Digital Consumption
If you’re frustrated that all of the assets that you’ve created are going to be wasted over these COVID-19 cancellations, have no fear. Here is the list of things many event marketers have already developed for an upcoming event and how you could repurpose these assets for prospects and customers to engage with digitally.
- Booth Collateral
Repurpose as downloadable assets on your website. You can do this in your resources section or blog, or identify top-level pages in your navigation menu to add a CTA link to.
Add a recorded version of your demo to your website or invite leads to a virtual presentation of the demo.
- Powerpoint Slide Deck
Add to SlideShare, or take content from the PowerPoint and repurpose it as a blog and/or social media content.
- Live Presentation
Run a webinar instead and post the recording to your resources section.
- Explainer Videos
Add to your resources page or write a blog post.
- Booth Graphics
Reuse the visual styles for a digital campaign (ads, emails, landing pages) or repurpose them as infographics.
- Booth Swag
Collect mailing addresses from your webinar attendees and send your swag to them in the mail.
Ask Event Host For Access to Attendees/Sponsors List
One of the best ways you can make the best of an event canceled due to COVID-19 is to ask the host if they will share the list of sponsors and attendees.
If the event host agrees to it, there’s a lot you can do with that information, in the way of email marketing and webinars so that the entire event doesn’t go to waste. Here are a few of our suggestions.
- Work with the host and sponsors to convert the in-person event to a virtual event.
You can reach out to the host and sponsors to convert your event into a virtual event. Everyone can agree to pre-record their talks and combine them into one session, or you could plan a series of webinars, spread out over multiple days, similar to how the original event was planned. There are numerous tools available to facilitate webinars including webinars Zoom, Go to Webinar, Webex, Join.me, and Skype. We have a lot more to say about virtual events in a coming post.
- Contact speakers, influencers, and non-competitive sponsors to request a collaboration.
Many times when I’m attending an event, I’ve got a handful of people that I’m looking to specifically meet. Typically it’s a speaker or a sponsor that I’m interested in introducing myself to. If you take the same approach, then I recommend reaching out to the sponsor or speaker, influencers on the list and asking if they’d be interested in collaborating on a project, or perhaps schedule a guest appearance on their podcast, blog, etc to gain exposure to their audience. Or, if that influencer/sponsor has a connection with a target account, perhaps you can ask them to facilitate an introduction for you.
- Offer free consultations in place of the event meetings.
Normally at events, you’d attract leads to your booth and set meetings with them. So, another option may be to email the list and offer free consultations for interested parties that can occur over a digital medium like the ones we listed above.
- BONUS: Share your recorded demo with attendees and sponsors.
In the event that the event host is not willing to share the attendee list, there is another option. If you have a recorded demo to share, it’s possible that the host may agree to publish it on their website. You never know if you don’t ask!
Find Out Where Leads are Congregating Online
If you strike out on getting an attendee list from your event host, you can still find ways to connect with that audience. The best way to do that is to find out where these people are congregating online and meet them there.
43% of B2B marketers named Facebook as their most important advertising channel and we’d agree, Facebook is likely the best place to start. The first step is to create a Facebook Business Manager account so that you can pinpoint a defined target audience and start developing search engine optimized (SEO) advertising campaigns that will guide them to your content.
We also recommend spending time on LinkedIn. While Facebook’s ads might be cheaper per click than LinkedIn in many cases, LinkedIn can still drive meaningful engagement and leads to your business.
Two other sites to check out are Quora and Reddit.
Sign up For a Review Site like Capterra or G2 Crowd
Another good way to make contact with potential customers during COVID-19 is to create an account for your business on sites like G2Crowd and Capterra. B2B directories like these tend to attract tons of software buyers that are interested in purchasing a tool like yours.
By creating a listing for your business in a relevant category, you can give potential buyers insight into your services/products so they can determine which option is the best for them. This is a valuable way to reach a large audience and increase conversion rates.
In addition, these platforms have paid options that you can use to increase your positioning on the platform and gain better visibility. Paid advertising is a necessary part of any digital marketing campaign.
Implement a High Touch, ABM (Account-Based Marketing) Campaign
One of the reasons why events are so important to sales and marketing teams is because they’re so high-touch. A great way to shift your focus when your event gets canceled because of COVID-19 is by replacing your strategy with a high-touch ABM campaign.
With account-based marketing plans, the strategy is to target specific accounts with highly personalized content to engage them.
Here’s a great example of an ABM initiative from the data platform Intricately, which created a company spotlight for a target account.
Another example is a personalized email marketing campaign directed toward specific people at a target company and tailoring content to their job position and specific customer needs.
BONUS: A great supplement to digital ABM campaigns is a direct mail campaign. This way, you’re hitting your target accounts from all angles and increasing the likelihood that one of these methods will hit the right person and the right time and get you a meeting with a decision-maker.
Here are some examples of direct mail campaigns from a provider we’ve used, Sendoso.
As with any marketing campaign, you can track the performance of your efforts so that if something isn’t working well, you can shift gears quickly.
Choosing a good marketing automation tool as well as properly tracking your metrics will give you the infrastructure you need to in digital marketing.
Dealing with the new reality brought on by the pandemic really sucks for all of us. For those of you who are in industries that are the hardest hit, we really feel for you.
Hopefully, the lockdowns will end soon and your loyal customers will stay with you through the storm as you begin reopening.
If your current marketing strategy has been derailed by the loss of the event space and you need a helping hand we hope you reach out to us.
In the meantime, our whole team hopes that you and your loved ones stay safe.
Topics: COVID-19, Digital Marketing