If you’re a marketer, you are undoubtedly familiar with the conundrum of tradeshows and conferences: Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.
They’re the most expensive line item in your annual budget, so they’re the hardest to push through—but they’re also the hands-down best way to grow your list, move the needle with prospects in your CRM, and deepen relationships with existing customers.
The case should be easy to make with your C-suite, but proving the ROI of tradeshows can be challenging because it’s unlikely anyone will sign a contract on the spot—especially if you’re pushing high-ticket technologies and services.
Part of the problem is events themselves. Depending on your industry and the event, conferences can cover tens of thousands of square feet, tens of thousands of attendees or delegates, and thousands of exhibitors who are given little opportunity to distinguish themselves. Some smaller events offer “speed-dating” type networking hours so you can court prospects face-to-face, but even they can be tough: Your best prospects might be burnt out by the time they meet you—if they turn up at all.
With the pandemic underway in the world, events of all sizes are canceled, from intimate industry workshops to giant tradeshows. Stories circulating about COVID-19 infections that originated at CES and a massive mining convention in Toronto have generated fear among event organizers and attendees alike. They are asking:
- When conferences are able to resume post-pandemic, will people even go?
- What’s the future of the event space?
- And, more important, can we use this pause as an opportunity to make live events more valuable for everyone involved?
The State of Affairs in Event Land
Event producers have been working hard to reschedule their 2020 events, but it hasn’t been a seamless course.