By now, most of us would typically be preparing for the kick-off to the annual building-product and HVAC trade shows, which in pre-pandemic times are routinely staged during the first two months of each year. But as these and so many other shows are canceling in-person events, marketers are scrambling to figure out how to launch new products, share updates, and convey other important information.
Here are our recommendations on alternative ways to promote your events, plus new methods that may be here to stay in a post-pandemic world.
Advertising in Industry Magazines
Industry trade publications are still popular, even in the digital age, because of their tight focus on specific trade audiences; i.e., builders, contractors, engineers, etc. Many publishers now offer weekly or monthly newsletters that link to their websites; or online, “replica” versions of their print products. Investing in an advertorial-style article or advertisement can help showcase new products or services that you planned to unveil at a trade show, while still reaching your target audience.
Virtual Trade Shows
Living in a world where digital is the new normal could be tricky for any manufacturer looking to launch a new product. Organizers of canceled trade shows are shifting to virtual alternatives, offering an interactive experience for an expanded audience.
But if you have doubts over how many customers and prospects will actually attend a virtual trade show, consider launching your new product yourself — virtually. You will be able to control the guest list safely and still be able to provide a hands-on experience from the comfort of your own home or some other safe space.
Whether you opt for a trade group’s virtual alternative or stage your own online event, you can still host a great experience for your product or service without spending large sums on travel or physical displays. Here are some tips for creating a successful event:
- Before the date of the trade show:
- Prepare a strategy with clear objectives.
- Let your audience know they can attend virtually through your social media channels.
- Outline and practice your presentations and demonstrations, leaving nothing to chance!
- During the show:
- Educate your attendees about your business by doing product/service demonstrations.
- Make your virtual booth as interactive as possible.
- Have marketing materials readily available for attendees to download quickly and easily while they are watching — not later when they might well forget.
Hosting Your Own Live Stream
With a smartphone and streaming services like Zoom or Facebook Live, you can now reach your audience virtually. Many streaming services allow you to bring in guest speakers, incorporate videos, and host Q&A sessions. Nothing beats the benefits of meeting people face-to-face, but this do-it-yourself alternative can also help you reach more individuals at once.
Our previous blog, How to Promote Your Virtual Event on Social Media covered the basics for promoting a successful online event. But before you think about promoting an event, you need a plan. We have created a simple, three-step guide below to help get you started.
Step 1 | Choose Your Products and Services:
Typically, for trade-show promotions, manufacturers choose a new product, a demonstration, a special announcement such as an extended warranty, or modifications to existing services. These types of legitimate and important news tend to attract the most attention.
Step 2 | Selecting a Streaming Service
There are dozens of streaming services out there, including most of the social media channels. Choosing an outlet depends on your needs. Factors to consider include:
- event length;
- guest speakers who will need to join virtually;
- whether you want the screen to display branding or other messaging;
- the number of attendees permitted; and
- post-production assets (recordings of the video).
Other considerations: How easy is the sign-up process for attendees? Can you integrate your event with social media channels? While social channels have their own live streaming, for high-quality and pre-planned events, they all require the use of a streaming service.
Some services require an annual subscription, downloading an app or using a broadcasting box. Perhaps you can reallocate the budget savings in trade-show travel and exhibition costs to these product services.
Step 3 | Get the Right Equipment
You can create a quality live steam with just your cell phone. However, if you really want to wow your audience, consider investing in a more professional camera — one with at least 1080p output quality (1920×1080 pixels; also known as Full HD). Microphones and lapel mics can help ensure a clear sound. Last, but not always least: A flash or additional lighting is excellent, and perhaps even critical, for proper staging of indoor shoots.
The future of trade shows may be uncertain during these difficult times. But that uncertainty need not preclude your sharing major company news and product introductions with your targeted audiences. There are many different alternatives; all you need is the right plan.
If you are ready to get started, GreenHouse Digital + PR can help your company create that plan and connect with your audience. Reach out to our digital marketing strategists to discuss your challenges and opportunities. Get started here.