By Bernie Dixon

The active season of trade shows was brusquely halted with the threat of COVID-19 spreading. Despite cancellations you may still need to generate leads for when business resumes in a more normal fashion. There are still ways in which you can capitalize on the event cancellation, the money spent on trade shows, the collection of leads in your database and the time you now have despite the missing face-to-face interaction. Recently Kara Brown, CEO Smith Brown Marketing, a consulting firm focused on the B2B lead generation and conversion cycle and LP2X 2018 alum discussed strategy with me. Here’s an easy strategy that doesn’t even require you to leave your desk.

Reach out to the list of trade show attendees
Most show coordinators provide a list of attendees either before or after the show. Reach out to the show coordinators. Most of them are working and trying to figure out how to reap anything from their show efforts. Email the list of contacts, express how you would have enjoyed talking with them in person but considering recent events, did not get the opportunity. In this email, offer them an alternative to get to know you and your business.

Offer an alternative to a face to face meeting
If you still want an opportunity to demonstrate what your business does, offer an alternative. A great way to do this is by hosting a webinar. Demonstrate the same content on your webinar that you would have shown at the trade show itself. Chances are most people are stuck at home in front of their computers with a cleared schedule, so this is a perfect time to do it. Send out a drip campaign of emails announcing the webinar. Include the date(s), time(s), and link to sign up.

Send your top 20 contacts a “welcome back” gift to their office
Transitioning back to a regular work environment can be difficult, but what could make it better is a nice gift from your company waiting on their desk. Think about using part of your, now available, trade show budget to purchase and send a gift to your top 20 contacts from the canceled trade show. If that’s not feasible, send a package of your company’s promotional items that you were planning to give out at the show. This will help you restart the conversation since you weren’t able to do it in a face-to-face environment.

If your trade show is still going on…
Some trade shows are moving to a virtual mode. Attendance is probably going to be low. Consider sending updates from the virtual show and send it to your email lists. Including short video clips from the show can help get your company’s message and connection with potential leads. The coordinators may have files or videos packaged for you to use. You can also take a video of your pitch or presentation for the trade show to send to your list of contacts. Along with a video, think about offering to live stream the event for the trade show host. This is a smart way to reach the audience while providing value to both the event and absent attendees.
When the world’s current circumstances are less than ideal, it’s important to get creative and figure out how to capitalize on your potential leads. There are many ways you can reach the potential lead base that you were going to talk to at the trade show. It can be an innovative way to build long term relationships that you can build on for your business. Go ahead. Try it. It can be a winning strategy.

Play to win.

Bernie P. Dixon is Founder and Chairman of Launchpad2X, a founder-to-CEO accelerator training program for women entrepreneurs. Find her on LinkedIn.