The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how we get together for church, business meetings, and sporting events. Yet, the most significant impact might be the hundreds of empty convention floors that used to host trade shows from Augusta, Maine, to La Jolla, California.
Trade shows play an integral role in selling products and services. Through professional networking and by establishing business development projects, nothing compares to the large events that unfold throughout the nation and the world. Now that once-bustling convention halls have converted into a hushed silence, what is the future of trade shows during the worst health crisis we have faced in more than 100 years?
The answer is to adapt to the pandemic by still making trade shows personal, albeit by using digital technology.
Adapting to the “New Normal”
Trade shows bring vendors, customers, and businesses together in an environment that fosters interactions. Recreating the in-depth relationships forged during trade shows requires thinking outside the box that takes you into cyberspace.
Webinar: The Virtual Convention Hall
A webinar delivers many of the same features that you see at in-person trade shows. Business operators connect directly with vendors and customers to promote their brands. One of the most impactful benefits of attending a trade show is to reach a larger audience. A webinar does that and much more because it can reach members of your target audience that do not have the time and/or resources to attend a special business networking event like a trade show. If you want to reach more members of your target audience, sponsoring a webinar through a third-party online portal should be a part of your marketing strategy, pandemic, or no pandemic.
Get Social Online
After attending a trade show, savvy business owners and operators follow up by connecting with the people they met during the special event. The same principle applies during the era of Coronavirus, except now your follow-up connections unfold online at social media sites. When you attend an in-person trade show, you hand out contact information such as email, address, and phone number. You also probably give trade show attendees the URL of your business’ Facebook account. Share the same Facebook information during a webinar, but add other URLs such as your business’s Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.
Reap the Benefits of Video Presentations
Video was a huge part of trade shows before the COVID-19 pandemic. Presenting the best features of your products and/or services via video is still an essential element of cultivating business relationships online. The difference is online videos allow vendors and customers to watch the productions whenever they have time. Online videos also help viewers retain more information by giving them the power to rewind a video to watch a section that they might not have understood the first time around.
Follow Up on a Third Party Platform
Video conferencing platforms such as Skype and Zoom made a significant impact on how companies conducted business before the Coronavirus outbreak. A growing number of businesses conducted both internal and external meetings online by using a third-party video conference platform. After a trade show, you or someone responsible for engaging potential vendors and customers meet with them to finalize deals and sales transactions. In 2020, the deals and sales transactions take place on video conferencing platforms. The digital meeting rooms also allow you to follow up by answering vendor and customer questions.
Promotional Products Still Matter
Promotional products that increase awareness of your brand will continue to be an important part of trade shows, whether you attend them online or in person. Instead of handing out branded merchandise such as pens, coffee mugs, and memory stick, you need to collect contact information online after a webinar or from interacting with your target audience on a social media site. GoPromotional helps businesses operating in a wide variety of industries develop visually appealing promotional products that include creatively designed logos.
What is the Future for Trade Shows?
Over the next several months, any trade shows held at large convention halls will require attendees to follow the health guidelines established by the states where the special events are held. You can expect to wear masks, as well as maintain a distance of six feet when interacting with other attendees. Former protocols like shaking hands no longer have a place at professional networking events that traditionally encouraged the “Nice to meet you” ritual. Expect cleaning and sanitizing procedures to be strictly enforced for every booth at convention centers located throughout the United States.
Will the “new normal” become the old normal for trade shows moving forward? The answer to that question is it’s too early to tell.
Handle COVID-19 with Care
You have heard about all the healthcare precautions being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As an attendee at a trade show during the pandemic, there are precautions you should take to prevent the tarnishing of your brand’s reputation. Never make light of the pandemic, even if it is an attempt to encourage another attendee to relax. You do not want other trade show attendees to feel that your company is not taking the health crisis seriously. Follow every health guideline that is mandated by the state where the trade show is being held. This includes regularly washing and sanitizing your hands. Finally, and most importantly, maintain a positive attitude because like other healthcare crises, COVID-19 will one day disappear to become the talk of future trade shows.