So Your Conference Has Been Canceled. Here’s How to Generate Leads Instead.
Within a matter of just a few months, the novel coronavirus has become a global pandemic. This rapidly developing health crisis has changed our lives in fundamental ways and turned the business world on its head.
In the wake of this pandemic, many of the events that B2B marketers have spent months planning have been canceled. So far, according to data gathered by Bloomberg News, the spread of COVID-19 has scuttled over 50 major corporate events with an estimated attendance of almost 1 million people.
Depending on the timing, scale, and your company’s specific plans, a canceled event can either be a minor setback or major issue. And, in the moment, missing out on events that you’ve planned and budgeted for might seem as if you’re missing out on a whole bunch of leads.
So how can you conduct B2B lead generation to replace a canceled event? Here are a few things you can do to stay on top of your lead generation goals.
Hold Your Own Virtual Events (or Find Some to Attend)
Holding online events is one of the best things B2B marketers can do to supplement the engagement lost from in-person events. They offer an ideal way for businesses to present thought leadership content to prospects who had events canceled as well and are hungry for some in-depth industry knowledge.
At Zen Media, for instance, one of our clients had a major trade show (where they typically receive a ton of leads) canceled. To help them ensure that their lead generation doesn’t take a hit because of this cancellation, we’re now running a live web summit for them. The result? They’ve doubled the number of sign-ups that they usually get…pre-event.
To get your virtual event up and running the right way, here are some quick tips:
- Shorten your session lengths: Decrease the time slots you would use for a physical event by 15 or 30 minutes — e.g. a 60-minute breakout should be 45 or 30 minutes when done online. Thanks to my good friend Jay Baer for this tip!)
- Ask colleagues to be active in your chat: This helps to encourage more live interaction and networking amongst your event participants.
- Mic check: Sound matters! Use a quality mic or consider getting a headset microphone. I’d also highly recommend Krisp to mute any background noise.
- Rethink your event promotions: Email marketing and social media are great tools for helping to get the word out about your event. But be sure to think outside the box to find out where else your audience could be hanging out online. Maybe your industry colleagues are interacting heavily on Reddit. If so, you could hold a brief AMA (Ask Me Anything) before the event to get people talking and more intrigued about your event.
Don’t have the resources to host your own event? Don’t worry about it! Attending virtual events, like this Forbes8 e-Summit that took place on March 20th where I spoke about selling in the digital age, can also give you the opportunity to connect with possible prospects, while learning some valuable industry insights at the same time. (Didn’t make the Forbes8 e-Summit? You can sign up here to check it out on-demand!)
Accelerate Your Content and Amplify Across Social Media
Transition the time and resources you were meant to utilize at events into picking up speed for your B2B content marketing.
At this time of global unease, add increased value, urgency and timeliness to your content by focusing on how your specific industry is being impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus. Offer ideas, advice, and solutions. People are seeking guidance right now — own the moment by stepping up to serve them at this critical time.
And since most people are on social media out of their normal routine (whether that be for social connection or real-time news updates), now is the time to take advantage of social media marketing to amplify your content on these platforms.
Schedule your content to publish on social media multiple times over the next few weeks (or even months). Or invest in paid social ads to rapidly get more eyes on your content. Better yet, use a combined model or organic and paid social to both increase reach and build more authentic relationships with new prospects and existing customers alike.
While no one really knows when the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic will subside, we can expect that things won’t be “business as usual” for quite some time. With the opportunities that today’s digital technologies offer, businesses can effectively market themselves without the need to attend in-person events, while still maintaining a human connection.