Ask any organization their number one way to generate warm leads and most will likely say “events.” Whether you exhibit at a third-party tradeshow or host your own corporate event, getting in front of your audience is how real connections are made.
But the pandemic has changed how businesses approach events. These days most event planners are dealing with limited travel, tight budgets, and daily changes in global health reports. And with potential event cancellations looming, it’s necessary for planners to have contingency plans in place. Having one means the difference between experiencing a total event killer and experiencing a manageable – albeit annoying – setback.
Contingency Planning: The NEW Event Planning in the Age of Covid
Event Contingency Planning
OK so picture it: You’ve planned on exhibiting at one of your industry’s biggest yearly tradeshows when just weeks before you’re scheduled to show, the event is canceled. What do you do?
You pivot and deploy your sales team, having them conduct web meetings with prospects. We recommend reaching out to people within 24 hours of the event being canceled because you’ll most likely be competing with other exhibitors for attention.
Reallocate Ad Spend
If a product launch was the main focus of your exhibition, your best bet is to reallocate your ad spend and throw more into digital ads to offset the launch cancellation. Paid social ads are an effective way to target buyers and schedule some of those web meetings.
You may also want to consider creating webinar content that shares the messaging you had planned to introduce at the tradeshow.
Work with Event Hosts
It’s always a good idea to reach out to the event host to see if there may be promotional opportunities to get in front of buyers that registered for the show. Ask if the host has any digital channels you may use to reach your audience. Inquire about any opportunities for you to co-market through their website or social media pages. Will they be hosting any streaming events that you can be part of? It never hurts to ask!
Have Your Messaging Ready Now
If you plan on hosting a large event yourself, you’ll want to develop ad creatives and email campaigns now that announce the cancellation and your backup plans. Have these ready to go just in case. Should you need to cancel in the future, there won’t be any delays in getting the message out to your attendees.
Many event planners became experts at throwing virtual events last year, and it looks like we may all need to pivot once again to hosting events online. While it isn’t ideal, creating a virtual event will allow the “show to go on” and you to engage with prospects.
What we learned last year when planning numerous virtual events for clients was to be very selective with your hosting solution. Look for software that allows streaming, downloading of content, real-time chats and more. All of these bells and whistles will help you engage your audience and deliver your messaging as you had intended. Or at least, very close to it!
Keep Your Events on the Small Side
We may find in the coming months that in-person events aren’t canceled entirely, just those larger events with many people that makes social distancing hard. Why not save yourself the heartache and headache by planning for a small group of say under 250 people? This is why hybrid events also work so well. You can still offer that in-person feel to a portion of your audience, and then stream the event to everyone else.
Due to the current climate, it’s important to have contingency plans in place for the foreseeable future. Event planners that develop these plans now are far less likely to experience major disruptions in the future.
Oh, and if you need any help planning in-person, hybrid or virtual events, just reach out to us. We’ve gotten good at helping our clients pivot at a moment’s notice. Like, really good.
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J.Shay Team is the generic alias for our event staff that want to submit work anonymously.