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  • Writer's pictureDali Ma

Marketing When Trade Shows Are Cancelled During COVID-19

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

More than 2000 trade shows were cancelled or postponed this year due to COVID-19, and 500+ of them were in the US (list of cancelled or postponed trade shows). I think it's a pretty clear signal to take digital or online marketing seriously. And many companies have realized that it's time for changes, based on their research on marketing.

What to do during COVID-19 when trade shows are cancelled
Trade shows cancelled due to COVID-19

How should you adapt to a world without trade shows

I think one thing we can all agree on is that trade shows are not the only marketing channel to generate leads and sales from, even though they have been heavily relied upon by numerous companies as their major, if not the only, avenue.

Let's take a look at trade shows and see what they actually are

Other than free trips, trade shows basically fulfil these purposes

  1. Research & training

  2. Branding

  3. Networking

  4. Sales & lead generation

Research & Training

This might be the most easily replaceable among the four. With so many education platforms available online, some of which are of very high quality (Skillshare, HubSpot Academy, etc), it is now easier than ever to have certain skills trained.

If your company wants to train employees with industry professionals in depth and in a more specific area, there are always tailored courses or coaches that cost much less than sending a team to trade shows.


How to do branding during COVID-19 lockdown

Trade shows has been conventionally perceived as good opportunities for branding. This might be an irrefutable truth, but it's only limited to the number of audience attending the trade shows, and also the size of your booth.

Taking a trade show of 10,000 attendees (pure attendees, excluding exhibitors, this is a pretty large show) as an example, assuming each company sends 2 representatives to the show, then you have 5,000 potential leads. Let's also be generous enough to assume 50% of the attendees/companies walked by you and took at least a quick glance at your booth, then you had 2,500 opportunities. Mind you, this is counting the number of people who only took a look at you. Let's also assume you are attending trade shows once a month.

Now let's compare it to a reasonably done (not even a well-done) website should get about 2,000+ B2B visits per month. If this is too general, take a look at HubSpot's analytics in the chart below:

How much traffic you should get per week
Weekly Website Traffic Analytics by HubSpot

This tells us that a reasonably done (hence the word median in the chart) should bring you just about the same traffic as trade shows. So if you have been purely relying on trade shows and not your website, maybe it's time to change your strategy.


Trade shows do provide a golden opportunity for networking, when they happen.

During COVID-19, or any kind of lockdown, for that matter, people often forget the power of email marketing. As mentioned in my previous blog on online marketing funnels, email campaigns (or email marketing) are very powerful tools for networking, not only with existing connections, but also with newly generated leads.

And better yet, they can be automated, customized to your specific buyer personas. They can also be optimized through testing and big data to generate the best marketing results.

Sales & Lead Generation

This is no doubt the most important thing here, which is what we focus on the most (see our results driven marketing blog). Needless to say, trade shows are typically good opportunities to generate leads and sales, due to the warmness of the leads, and the focused audience. However, during COVID-19, such avenue is simply lost. Sure enough, there are online trade shows, but I would argue it benefits businesses more, in today's situation, to work on their own organic lead generation.

To do this, and to do it well, a few things need to be taken care of

  • On page SEO - a must, to make sure you are not losing to your competitors

  • Performance SEO - a way to attract and generate qualified visits

  • UX - so that the site resonates well with visitors, remember you have 3 seconds to capture or lose them

  • Story-telling - this not how your company came to be, this is about a persuasion story told on your web page for visitors to follow, so that they can convert to leads

Dali Marketing has helped companies with the above and consequently generated better performances in leads and sales even comparing to pre-COVID-19 era.

Digital Marketing Growth Consultation

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