Contributed by: Luke Smith
Trade shows are the second-largest source of B2B revenue. Exhibitors have access to thousands of buyers, all in one place. No other form of marketing provides such a concentration of targeted customers solely there to purchase or learn more about a specific product or industry. But the current COVID-19 pandemic has halted the trade show circuit in its tracks, leaving many businesses scrambling to find marketing and sales alternatives.
What can businesses do to adapt to such abrupt changes? Is there a virtual solution that can fill the gap? As face-to-face networking and sales are postponed for public health and safety reasons, digital marketing is a viable solution now more than ever. Consider the following strategies to connect with prospective buyers.
Revamp Your Company Website
Your company’s website represents your business and its services. As Get Safe Online says, “If you aren’t online, you don’t exist.” Customers and prospects can access your website 24 hours per day. Enhancing your online presence to provide the best experience is one of the most effective ways to reach target customers.
Expand on your website to go beyond the basics. Many websites provide visitors a contact form, some photos about the company and an “About” page. Companies that don’t use their website for anything more than as a virtual calling card aren’t capitalizing on their online potential. Adding a client testimonial page, an eCommerce store and/or a product catalog featuring your best-selling and new product arrivals is a good way to expand the utility of your website and get your products seen.
When putting together your online product selection, ensure you’re using high-quality photos and copy that describes your products thoroughly. Believe it or not, you can take professional-looking photos with a smartphone. The secret to good photography is lighting. Invest in an LED ring light kit so your smartphone photos have more detail. Freestanding lights can be found for less than $100 on Amazon and can be adjusted for a variety of purposes.
As for high-quality copy, enlist someone from your sales team to write your product descriptions or hire a copywriter. Depending on your budget, the copywriter can also develop and execute a content marketing strategy for your business which includes posting articles to your company blog and creating a newsletter.
Developing a customer experience strategy is essential to your brand’s online success. Know who your customer is, what they respond to, and deliver to meet their expectations. If you succeed, you’ll earn their attention and potentially grow your sales. If the task of upgrading your website feels daunting, hire a website developer with B2B experience to guide you through the process.
Add Video Conferencing
The reason trade shows are a success for exhibitors is the opportunity to connect with potential clients. Most buyers visiting a trade show are there to check out the latest industry products and learn more about the companies and products available.
The chance to meet face-to-face and sell your product is invaluable. Recreate the opportunity by adding live video chat to your site. People who live chat on websites are 85% more likely to become customers than ones who don’t. Although the statistic refers to consumers, the power of live conversation has benefits in nearly any application, including B2B. A video chat could increase your odds of closing more sales at a time when in-person meetings aren’t possible.
You can include a live chat feature on your company website or simply adopt video conferencing software. Reach out to potential clients to ask if they’d be open to a video call so you can connect eye to eye and have the chance to show them new products and how they work in real-time.
Zoom has grown exponentially during the coronavirus crisis as a video conferencing solution for companies needing to stay in touch with remote employees. The platform is a great option to hold company meetings with your staff or digital marketing team from shelter-in-place locations. But you can take the video service further to reach out to prospective clients to speak directly with them.
Besides Zoom, there are other video chat alternatives including Google Hangouts, Skype, Facetime, and GoToMeeting.
Expand Your Social Media Channels
Social media continues to be an important digital marketing tool. Maryville University claims social media users often use three or four different platforms per day. To expand your company’s reach, make sure your company has a strong social media presence in at least two channels.
A study by eMarketer found that millennials are the most active social media users (90.4%). If the younger demographic is part of your target audience, consider enlisting a millennial employee to manage your social media. No one will understand the interests of more than a fellow millennial.
When developing your company’s campaign, keep in mind that your social media marketing strategy should be different from the other aspects of your digital marketing plan. Make your social media about your audience and what interests them and less about your products. See your social media channels as the place where you create interest as a brand to start the conversation and save the sales strategy for your email campaign or website.
This Too Shall Pass
The current outbreak may be unprecedented, but it’s likely the world will be back to business sooner than later. The improvements you make now will still provide value to your business when the trade show season is up and running again. Working on your digital marketing strategy now will bring you short and long-term returns.
About the author: Luke Smith is a freelance writer and researcher-turned blogger. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics, but technology and digital marketing topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing, you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.