As concerns about the spread of coronavirus escalate in the UK and the rest of Europe, a number of exhibition organisers are deciding to cancel or postpone trade events, particularly if they attract an international audience.
Nothing can replace the F2F experience that trade shows offer - I am a huge advocate myself as I worked for some of the UK's leading exhibition organisers at the beginning of my marketing career. However, if the show for your industry has been cancelled or postponed, it is a good time to review your sales and marketing strategy to try and make up for some potential lost sales.
Give your CRM a spring clean
When was the last time you went through your CRM platform? With the time you would have had your sales staff on your stand, why not allocate that time to those jobs that always end up at the end of the list?
- Is the way you categorise or tag your contacts still relevant?
- Have you analysed your sectors to see which industries or categories contain most of your customers?
- I am assuming that you can easily identify your active customers, your lapsed customers and your prospects so that you can target them accordingly
- Are there contacts who have been on your database for too long - you could consider contacting them to see if they want to continue to hear from you
Look after your existing customers
It's an old adage that it costs more to find new customers than keep existing ones but it's still true! Trade shows are not just about finding new prospects but they also give companies the opportunity to meet up and socialise with existing clients, introducing them to new products and services. So here are some ideas to consider for having more contact with them.
- You will probably have already set up appointments with key clients so why not contact them to still keep those appointments but by phone or video call.
- Make sure you have an objective for each of your key clients you speak to - do you want to encourage them to buy more often from you, place bigger orders or introduce them to new products.
- Are you communicating with all your active customers on a regular basis? If you are a purpose driven brand, this email marketing will not just be about trying to sell them products or services - you will want to tell them about your progress in environmental and social issues, such as improvements to packaging or energy use as well as social initiatives in your supply chain.
- You can also share useful market knowledge and insights with your customers to help them sell on your products or services to their clients
Acquire new prospects
- How are your conversion rates? Examine your sales funnel and the customer journey from prospect to established customer
- Are there parts of the customer journey which are sticking points - where you struggle to move people on to the next stage or is a particular part of the process taking too long?
- Did you acquire the pre-registered visitor list for your trade show? If you didn't, it may be worthwhile doing this and contacting these prospects by email (see more later) but remember that a lot of the other exhibitors will be doing the same
- Analyse your lead acquisition methods - which is the next most effective method you use after exhibitions? Can you focus more time on that instead?
- Don't forget your lapsed customers - do you know why they've left you? You could set aside some of your newly acquired time to call them and see why they have not bought from you recently
- Video your presentation and share that with your prospects using the pre-registered visitor list
- Be a bit cheeky and ask the organisers to help you promote it.
- Invite others due to speak to take part too and share the production costs with you
- If you weren't on the speaker list, why not set up your own video seminar anyway - but only if you've got something useful to say
Review your email marketing
Email marketing is an important part of your toolkit when you're in B2B sales. Take the time to check you're doing things right.
- Find out which topics were the most popular in terms of open rates and click throughs
- Are you doing targeted emails, ie different emails for different types of customers as categorised in your CRM?
- Review the frequency of your emails - maybe test this
- If you don't already, do some testing of subject lines - most email marketing platforms offer A/B split testing
- Does the design/format of your emails need updating? The latest trend seems to be to have emails with short topics with an image and limited text with a link to a blog on your website or an article on someone else's
- Are you keeping an eye on the competition? This should relate to all your marketing activities but it is always useful so sign up to newsletters of your competitors and other relevant brands
Follow up with the press
Press offices are an important feature of any trade show and you will always want to get your brand in front of the journalists visiting the show. With the show not happening, remember that they will still be looking for stories. The organisers should also be keen to feed stories to the press even though the show is not happening.
- Make sure you make contact with the show organisers and ask them about their plans to inform the press about what they will have missed
- Send press releases yourself to the press you were hoping to meet at the show or who were your targets for your press kit.
- Have something exciting to tell them - so if you do a video seminar tell them about it and that you've organised it to make up for the show not happening