ISE 2021 reschedules to June 21

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Nick Spalding

With the announcement this week that ISE 2021 has rescheduled from February to 1-4 June 2021 and with the earlier announcement that the largest commercial trade AV exhibition is to be held in Barcelona and not Amsterdam, it got us wondering....again, are exhibitions dead?

We wrote a blog earlier this year 'Time for Change?'

At the time of writing we were facing the initial onslaught of Covid-19. In it we mention the requirement for companies to think differently about sales and marketing strategies, especially if they can no longer attend exhibitions.

Now this seems more prevalent than ever.

And looking at the medium-longer term view whereby companies might not ever fully return to the workplace.

If you need further evidence of the larger impact of Covid-19 on our homes and workplace scroll through this great article from the BBC.

Don't get me wrong, as I write, I am saddened by the lack of live events, the lack of trade exhibitions, the threat to livelihoods, our own included and by the way I particularly love attending ISE and being dazzled by all of the excellent technology on display....BUT

For now, exhibitions are DEAD.

Physical meetings are also being met with reticence.

The requirements for better online presence is at an all time high.

At the time of writing the original'Time for Change?' article back in March 2020, I thought that for manufacturers large exhibitions could be replaced with some or all of the following;

  • Regional Shows
  • Virtual Exhibitions
  • Distance Learning Resources
  • Knowledge Base Libraries
  • Webinars
  • Online Presentations (Powerpoint etc).
  • Video Content
  • Automated Lead Generation Resources
  • Enterprise Websites

And now we are 6 months further in with Covid-19, I do not really feel much has changed, if anything demand for these resources is even greater.

 

Regional Shows

In the postponement announcement of ISE 2021, reference is made to the importance of Regional Shows. Looking ahead, for me this makes perfect sense, smaller numbers, smaller risks, more targeted effort, reduced exposure.

And of course should Covid-19 regional lockdowns prevail during 2020-21, the opportunity to relocate smaller, regional shows to other dates in different areas becomes much more possible.

 

Virtual Exhibitions

We've looked at virtual exhibitions, indeed we are signed up for The Photography Show in the coming days, and we have looked at running Virtual Exhibitions for clients. Admittedly we have some reticence, with usual questions event organisers must face i.e. will people sign up, will visitors attend, will exhibitors pay?

The software for running virtual events is expensive (much less than hiring the NEC admittedly), but I've yet to see anything that cannot be replicated with a good website, event management software integrations, or Zoom webinar and Breakout Rooms integration, or with great distance learning resources.

 

Distance Learning Resources

With the existence of distance learning platforms, including Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Zoom or lots of others, it is now possible to provide Distance Learning Resources very easily.

This might be training programmes with certifications, product programming manuals, new product launches and more.  Courses can be paid or unpaid, so they provide businesses with additional revenue streams, if required.

Our recommendation here is that manufacturers embrace online learning resources, integrated with websites so customers, installers, resellers of their products can train, be trained or train staff to have better knowledge of the products they sell, supply or install.

And making courses certified and accredited learning, linked to a professional bodies (CPD, CTS) and so forth has to good for any industry.

 

Knowledge Base Libraries

In the absence of exhibitions, it is most likely, anyone wishing to learn about a new product, service or training program is likely to jump online and do their research. Obvious, right, after all we all do it don't we?

So I'm guessing those manufacturers, resellers or distributors that do this the best and provide the highest quality information, easily found and online, are most likely to succeed, right?

Nicely indexed Knowledge Base Libraries are really easy to build, particularly for product manufacturers as they already have all of the product information documented, so why wouldn't you add this as a feature of your company's website?

 

Webinars

In Britain we are generally a little reticent to embrace new technologies and new ways of working. For me, webinars are a classic example of this. We all see regular adverts on social media offering free webinars with the latest sales, marketing or google ads training, designed to reel you in and sell you a training programme, a book or a product or service that costs much more.

I've attended lots and lots of webinars over the years, and I've paid for lots of e-books, training programmes and courses as a consequence.

Why?

Because I am a sucker?

No, because the beauty of webinar learning is, as a user you can choose to watch and attend as much or as little as you choose, at a time you choose.

So whilst a lot of webinars are live, the real magic with webinars for businesses is in recording content once and making it available via social media or your  website so it is viewed, watched or sold many times over, at a time the user chooses.

 

Online Presentations

You may or may not have noticed the 'Live' button on Slides, Keynote, Powerpoint etc.

This feature allows you to display your presentation online to invited attendees, so you can make your presentation live, online.

You can also use Zoom's screen-share function to display presentations during a Zoom meeting, which if you record, using the Zoom Record feature, you can send to attendees post meeting.

(How about this for a quick win, record your presentations from your desktop/browser with screen recording software such as Loom, Vidyard or even Zoom, adding your live image and voiceover and you have a ready made webinar to host on your website or social media).

 

Video Content

With platforms such as Vidyard, Loom and others it has become really easy to make screen recordings a bit like this one.

Loom _ Using video content for sales outreach

So the question is, are you using Video yet?

 

Automated Lead Generation Resources

Of course exhibitions have traditionally been excellent at providing and generating new sales leads. 

In their place companies and businesses need to find other ways of generating new leads. Of course paid ads, either online or offline, are a good way to achieve this.

The question is, is your business set up to receive them?

What do I mean by this?

Well, do you have specific landing pages on your website built with the primary purpose of capturing visitor details?

You'd be surprised how many don't.

And are your paid adverts set up to direct visitors specifically to those pages?

Do you have live chat on your website so visitors can talk immediately to sales (or a chatbot when your business is closed). AI is one of the fastest growing resources for lead capture. 

The point is, if your website is not set up to capture new leads, guess what, it won't actually provide you with many, which seems like a waste of a resource doesn't it?

Our suggestion is you need to use a host of tools on your website for it to generate regular leads, including;

  • Paid Ads
  • Landing Pages
  • Content Offers
  • CTA's
  • Video Content
  • User Friendly Forms 
  • Live Chat
  • Meeting Links

And if they are all used together, they can prove to be very powerful.

If you are wondering what a landing page might look like, here's one we made earlier.

 

Enterprise Websites

Of course it is not easy to replace attending exhibitions as a manufacturer, however if your business or company has an Enterprise level website, it will certainly help.

And by that we mean a website that has;

  • Superfast load speeds, (a little like this one!)
  • A dazzling Homepage that suggest authority
  • Is linked or built upon your CRM
  • Offers Smart Content
  • Allows Visitor Profiling
  • Provides a Knowledge Base Library / Automated Ticketing
  • Offers a Learning Management System
  • Has Pillar / Cluster Topic Content Pages (for SEO)
  • Landing Pages 
  • Regularly Updated Content Offers
  • Automated Responses to Visitors following site interactions
  • Regularly updated Blog
  • User Friendly Forms / Pop Ups
  • Live Chat / AI
  • CTA's
  • Online meeting booking system

 

Summary

So whilst we'd like to see the return of live events very soon, in the meantime there is an awful lot that companies, sales managers, marketing teams and service team managers can do using technology, to bridge the gap. The smart ones already are....

#StaySafe

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