It’s no secret that trade shows are an invaluable tool for networking, branding, lead generation, product placement, and sales.
Every B2B company we we work with is wondering: What should I do with my trade show budget this year if in-person events are canceled?
In a study completed in April of 2020, only 9% of respondents said they had no plans to reallocate their trade show and events budget. Another 42% had already begun reallocating their event budgets to other mediums.
There has never been a better time to reinvest or reallocate some of your events budget into digital solutions for your business. Why? Because companies that can meet customers where they are - online - are going to have a clear advantage in the months and years ahead.
In this article, we explore the various ways your marketing team can reinvest or reallocate some of your events budget into digital solutions for sales and marketing.
When Kardex Remstar — a world leader in automated storage and retrieval — had to cancel their participation in the Modex 2020 event, a digital trade show booth was a no-brainer.
Using the 3D artist rendering of their booth, Kardex converted their physical presence at Modex into a digital one. Visitors to the digital experience could hover over various elements of their booth to see product demonstration videos, order branded gifts, speak directly with sales, and queue up related content downloads in just a few clicks.
Trade shows are expensive. And one of the drawbacks is that they are a one-time event. People either come to your booth - or they don’t.
But converting your booth into a digital experience isn’t just a one-time investment. Depending on how you build your booth and what you’d like to showcase, your booth can be used as a follow up to every trade show or sales conversation for years to come. And, when shows inevitably open back up, you can use your digital booth as a marketing and sales tool to keep interested buyers engaged over time.
Here’s what Kardex’s digital booth looks like. The booth was successful enough to win them a Hermes Creative Award.
Your digital booth doesn’t have to be insanely expensive. It just has to be designed with your visitor in mind. But a truly interactive experience is a surefire way to make your business stand out from the crowd.
PRO TIP: Promote your digital booth on your social channels. Or, consider adding a link to employee email signatures to get even more traction over time.
Now that events are off the table for many companies, investing in a video overview is critical. You don’t need a huge video budget, a professional script, or extremely expensive equipment to film a highly-successful overview video.
PRO TIP: Should I gate my video? Many of the businesses we work with wonder whether they should ‘gate’ their demonstration videos behind a contact form or leave them ‘free’ to access on the site. The decision to gate should be part of a larger strategy discussion. Ultimately, you need to weigh what is more important to you: Showcasing your product so you stand out ahead of your competitors and remain memorable right from the start — or generate contact information for new leads. It’s important to note that sometimes ungating is a better strategy for lead generation in the long run. Especially if your direct competitors have ungated information on their site. Remember that researchers engage with nine other information sources before agreeing to speak to sales. Gating your video may add an unnecessary sales barrier to a larger, more qualified buying audience.
Interactive content is here to stay. And that’s because it works.
According to a study by SnapApp, 28% of buying decisions are influenced by Millennials. That means younger people are more likely to be completing digital research for new products. And 45% of Millennials prefer to engage with an interactive content experience as a top-3 content type.
Manufacturers, AEC, and several other industries are behind the curve when it comes to digital lead generation. But interactive content is the perfect solution to solve for researchers, buyers, and your sales team simultaneously.
Check out this digital recreation of GE’s Advanced Turboprop Engine. GE used Ceros - an interactive content platform to build this digital experience. But there are several options to streamline and simplify a digital product experience. All you need to start is a high-quality image.
If your primary presence was in-person, it’s time to shift your focus to online efforts. And that starts with a foundational investment in SEO and content strategy. In fact, 41% of manufacturers said they have a documented content strategy.
What does a content strategy include?
Here is a comprehensive guide to developing a content strategy for B2B Manufacture - based on research.
If you think your blog content can’t be sexy (even if your product or service is, well, boring) think again. TriStar wrote a guide to plastic bearing failure that thousands of searchers look for every month. All it takes is a little research and a really great writer.
Why not take your events budget investment - where you were paying for foot traffic - and start generating digital traffic instead? Paid search (PPC) and paid social campaigns work really well when they’re done right. Especially when it comes to capturing leads that are ready to buy.
Just make sure you do your research before working with a PPC or demand generation agency that doesn’t have much experience with your industry, specifically. Your audience may want a no-fluff, no-fuss search result for paid ads. So you’ll also need to make sure the content you’re paying to showcase is up to par as well. Here are some questions you can ask before hiring a PPC agency.
In a study we completed of 100 random websites, only 22% had video testimonials available on their website.
We can wave our arms and shout about the benefits of our product all day. But the true value comes from social proof and word of mouth. The trust-building and credibility that comes with having your customers speak about your product for you is worth the budget investment.
Want to see how your website stacks up against the competition? Email yourself a copy of the full study here.
Best of all, video testimonials don’t have to be filmed in-person. A high-quality zoom call and some creative editing can be just as effective as — and even seem more authentic than — a professional video.
Best of all, snippets of these videos can be edited out and used throughout your website and social media initiatives.
Is email dead? Certainly not. And that’s especially true for B2B buyers who spend much more time in their email than they do on social media. You might consider:
It’s never the wrong time to review and refresh your existing sales materials. If you’re still relying heavily on PDFs, product specs, or outdated blog posts in your marketing and sales nurtures, it’s a great time to invest in a change. You might want to consider:
According to HubSpot, Sales Enablement is the iterative process of providing your business's sales team with the resources they need to close more deals. These resources may include content, tools, knowledge, and information to effectively sell your product or service to customers.
Sales enablement can manifest itself in a variety of digital solutions for your sales team.
Sometimes, marketing makes the assumption that we know what sales wants. But before we dive into a digital recreation of our product, it’s important to align sales and marketing’s goals for the sales experience.
Start by asking what tools and resources the sales team wishes they had.
If possible, interview some of your recently closed customers. What resources, videos, or experiences on the site would have been helpful for them during the buying process?
Research is a critical component of sales enablement.
You probably already have a product page on your site. When was the last time that was updated? If your primary engagement with new leads is online, you need to make sure your product page is as sophisticated and streamlined as your product is.
PRO TIP: Get More Leads From Your Product Page. Depending on how saturated your market is, your site could be the 15th one a researcher has visited. That can lead to a lot of fatigue for your buyer. One idea that’s worked really well for quick, top-funnel lead-generation is an offer that goes something like: “Send this information to yourself to read later.”
The form is in-line (directly on the product page) and would only ask for email address.
Then, automate an email follow-up that sends relevant information about your product directly to the visitor. This allows them to peruse your content again on their own time. And now that you have their email address, you can nurture them through marketing and sales.
ABM, or Account-Based Marketing, is gaining significant traction in the B2B space. Chances are, you know the target accounts you would love to sell to. Shifting your marketing and sales strategy to an ABM model is a fantastic investment to drive new business this year.
This is especially true if your sales pipeline is traditionally unreliable, unstable, or not performing as well as it should be. Here are some of the benefits of running an ABM campaign, according to HubSpot:
Tying your ABM campaign to your Paid campaign can make sure your business stays top-of-mind wherever your target buyers are online.
New ABM sales tools make it easy for you to connect your target account leads, contacts, and tasks all in one place.
Whether you’re running an ABM campaign or simply want to stay in front of your current sales pipeline, a high-quality video mailer is an exceptional way to stand out from the crowd. Your audience may not watch your on-demand product video on the site. But what if they could hold that video right in their hands? That’s exactly what a high-quality video mailer can provide.
Here are some sites to check out for your first video brochure or mailer:
How can I track the success of my video brochure mailer?
Create a unique (but easy-to-type) URL to add to your mailer, such as yourwebsite.com/video. This will allow you to track unique views to the page.
Yes, you want to close more customers. But the ultimate goal of the mailer is to educate your potential buyer and help you stand out as a trusted resource. The unique site page you create as part of your mailer can include:
We highly recommend you ask your sales reps what basic questions they answer over and over again and include them as a FAQ module on this page. People are much more likely to engage in a sales conversation if you allow them to self educate. Providing them with the information they need to get to the next phase before they talk to a sales rep reduces friction and can make the sales process easier for everyone.
PRO TIP: A professional designer can merge your print materials with your digital brand to ensure a streamlined and professional experience for your mailers. Some of the sites listed above allow you to work from templates. But it may be worth it to invest in a professional design so your mailer stands out.
Live and on-demand webinars are still a fantastic tool to generate more leads, especially in the manufacturing space. Ask yourself:
These are all fantastic ideas for a webinar. Best of all - your webinars don’t have to be lengthy to be successful.
Is there a single, helpful place on your site where leads and customers can go to get all of their questions answered? If not, you may want to invest in a Resource Hub or Customer Knowledge Base.
A thoughtfully designed resource hub is an incredible sales and marketing tool for B2B companies. Not only is a resource hub great to share on social, but you can include links in your sales emails, nurtures, and ABM campaigns. Best of all, reporting tools like HubSpot allow you to track who is viewing your content - and when - for a more insightful sales process.
Marketing may also be able to help the Service team by creating a Customer Knowledge Base for the site. This can include basics like how your product works, common questions, warranty and service information, troubleshooting, and how to get more help. Modern knowledge bases allow your customers to search for answers to their most common questions, lessening the burden on your customer service team.
Additionally, showcasing your knowledge base during the sales process can demonstrate to prospects that you care about creating an exceptional customer experience.
Conversational marketing and bot marketing are here to stay. In a study completed by Drift, only 14% of those surveyed said they would rather fill out a form than use a chat feature.
Delayed responses add friction to the buyer experience, which in turn causes buyers to leave your website and move on to the next solution. People want answers to their questions — now. And chat makes that really easy to do. You can add live chat to your site for your sales reps to answer questions on-demand. Or you can build AI bots to answer common questions on your:
And chat is a great feature to add for your service team for customers who would rather not call a service hotline.
The future of events and trade show marketing is uncertain. But that doesn’t mean your marketing efforts need to halt completely. There are tangible and affordable steps you can take to reinvest your events budget into digital experiences that will perform for you as ‘evergreen’ content for years to come.
Need help brainstorming a new digital solution for your B2B manufacturing business? Drop me a line. I’d love to hear what you’re working on.
Let's talk about how to reallocate your events budget for 2021. Book a meeting with our marketing experts today.
Kate Moore is a Content Strategist by day, HubSpot expert by night. When she’s not getting distracted by her many fans (ahem – work emails and phone calls), she’s hunkered down, plugged into Spotify and writing about stuff that will make your work with HubSpot smooth and simple.