How will marketers replace the demand previously brought forth by events? Are there alternate ways of forming customer connections? How do we remain profitable in times of uncertainty? Frost & Sullivan recently held a webinar, What Now? Fill Your Lost Trade Show Pipeline, which featured leading marketing executives discussing how they are tackling the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The discussion centered on how companies can use digital and virtual strategies to mitigate the loss of leads and in-person connections caused by delayed or canceled trade shows. The most critical findings from both the panelists and interactive polls of the audience included the following insights:
There is a massive wave of digital marketing heading toward your customers. Perhaps not surprisingly, already by the end of March, over 98% of respondents who attended the webinar were in the process of pivoting to a new digital strategy. This begs the question: how do you rise above the tide? Panelists noted that it’s critical to act fast and put effort into well-considered, specific customer-centric messaging that hits squarely on needs and pain points. You may have little more than five words in an email headline to grab their attention. Frost & Sullivan’s ongoing survey of marketing professionals shows that even before the COVID-19 global lockdown, account-based marketing (ABM) was one of the top three fastest-growing marketing strategies. Using ABM best practices of keeping your targeted strategies focused on fewer, better customers and prospects will provide much higher ROI than the “spray and pray” approach. Ludy Morales-Dunning, Senior Director for North American Field Marketing at Genesys, noted, “Everyone is doing webinars. Everyone is doing virtual events. Talk to a specific target. Get their attention.”
Traditional direct mail is back, though as with email, it needs to be meaningful and targeted. This is not the time to restart sending generic product literature pamphlets to your clients’ homes. For example, Frost & Sullivan leverages direct mail, both for its own and its clients’ marketing programs, as the follow-up to a virtual event or other interaction. Through this interaction, the client or prospect is prompted to drive the next touchpoint with the vendor. This is reserved for the most qualified prospects and has proven highly effective.
Prepare for a different trade show future. We do not know what the second half of 2020 will be like, assuming the shelter-in-place ordinances are lifted by then. Will many trade shows be pushed to later in the year, as they are stating, and, if so, how will they compete with nearly twice the volume of shows? Or will trade shows become virtual—partially or completely—even after this period of increased virtual and digital engagement? Many shows will likely resume at some point over the course of the year following the return to normal travel and movement. Meanwhile, we can learn a lot about how to effectively engage our customers. And we may find that these strategies should play a larger role in our marketing arsenal, even when travel and trade shows resume.
As Ryan Root, Head of Marketing for Stem Audio, noted on the panel: “This is a huge opportunity that we have to take advantage of …. The advantages are insane, with the opportunity to reach more people with virtual events pretty clear. Just look at us now: there are over 600 people on this call. That could be a full day at a pretty large trade show. … It can be extremely effective to leverage a virtual event.”
Helping clients during the crisis is the key to effective marketing to ensure your audience knows you are not trying to take advantage of the situation and to help elicit their return if the situation has put a hold on their spending. Peter Huber, Trade Marketing and Business Development Manager at Duracell, emphasized this point during the discussion. “We’re trying to find relevance. … Don’t take advantage of this; be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We look at our strengths and what we can bring to the market and the community.”
Root put the situation into perspective: “Think ahead. This is temporary. It’s going to change some things. Maybe not everything will go back to normal, but this, too, will end. Don’t get too caught up in the ‘now.’ Use this time to get ahead: there’s a big advantage there now.”
The webinar attracted more than 600 attendees who also provided feedback on key industry metrics through real-time polling questions. A recording of the full event can be found here.
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Frost & Sullivan asked webinar panelists to summarize their marketing strategies in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis:
“Design and educate through digital campaigns.”
—Gary Robbins, senior partner, Frost & Sullivan
“Help partners and customers mitigate this crisis.”
—David Portnowitz, chief marketing officer, Star2Star Communications
“Finding distinctive ways to generate pipeline.”
—Ludy Morales-Dunning, senior director, North American field marketing, Genesys
“Reach people where they’re at.”
—Ryan Root, head of marketing, Stem Audio
“Maintain relevancy in today’s market.”
—Kristi Melani, vice president of digital marketing and customer experience, Poly
“Reviving our strategy, planning, executing.”
—Peter Huber, trade marketing and business development manager, Duracell
Moderator: Adam Kahn,
Brand and Demand, Frost & Sullivan