How to Generate Opportunities without Trade Shows

From our experiences with B2B organizations, we know the amount of business that comes from trade shows. Additionally, our conversations with these B2B marketers have illustrated the need to fill these gaps, especially as trade shows are being delayed or cancelled not just for the first month of 2021, but even through the entirety of H1. For that reason, businesses need to ditch their trade show marketing plan and create a new lead generation plan that doesn’t involve in-person contact at trade shows. 

Interested in learning how you can engage with current customers without trade shows? Read some of our top tips and tricks in our recent blog. 

The Value of Trade Associations, Without In-Person Networking

For many business owners and sales teams, they join different trade organizations and networking groups in order to generate more sales and increase referral sources. 

However, members need to remember: trade associations need to retain members for them to continue. This means that they are invested in your success and want to see you thrive. They want to ensure that you will remain a member, see value in your membership, and will (hopefully) refer additional members. 

A few ways you can leverage your trade association membership virtually include:

  • Ask for Introductions. One of the simplest things you can do is ask your member rep if they would introduce you to other members. You’re not the only person looking to make new connections during this time, and so other business leaders will likely be open to connecting and starting the conversation. 
  • Contribute Content. Now more than ever, trade associations are looking to amplify the success of their members as a way to get attention. Contact either your member rep or the marketing team for your association and see if they are interested in either collaborating on content or have an option to submit a contributed piece that both your organization and they can amplify. 
  • Speak on Association Panels. Just because in-person events are off doesn’t mean that all events are off. Respondents to a survey by GoodFirms noted a near 75% increase in webinars due to COVID-19, meaning that there is a good chance that your trade association is hosting events and, if you express interest, they will be more likely to include your voice in the discussion.

How to Follow Up with Leads Virtually

From using the tactics above, you will likely get some warm introductions or connect with some new people. These introductions and back-and-forth emails might mean a meeting, but one meeting does not make a relationship. They might have helped you get your foot in the door, but it’s up to you to keep the conversation going and stay top-of-mind. 

The first step of this is to develop a follow up plan. Specifically, what is your goal for these new contacts? It may differ from person to person; some of these new relationships may be more partner and referral focused instead of directly relating to new business. Others may be sales prospects in the future, but it’s not currently the right time.

Here are four tactics your sales and marketing teams can implement to help stay top-of-mind.

  • Establish a Drip Email Campaign. One of the simplest things you can do is to add these new contacts to a drip email campaign. This campaign should focus on adding value to your new audience members, such as new blogs, thought leadership, and resources that position your business as a major asset.
  • Connect on LinkedIn. Ideally, your company should have an active presence on LinkedIn and this was already part of your trade show marketing plan. But in addition to your company page, your sales team should also be active in resharing content and engaging with potential prospects
  • Market Research. Surveys are a great way to get to know your audience. Ask your new connections if they would be willing to complete a survey and share more information about themselves, which can allow you to identify trends about your network.
  • Host a Webinar. Like we said before – just because events can’t be in person doesn’t mean you can’t host events. Start by identifying potential clients and key referral partners that you want to work with. From there, develop a panel that showcases their expertise, along with yours, and invite them to be one of the panelists. This is a great way to start forming a relationship and generate a warm introduction.

While there are always other tactics your business can do, these are a few that we have found to be very successful. 

Get Help Creating Opportunities

With all of these tactics, the main goal is to do more than create new connections; you want to form long-term relationships. Staying top of mind with these relationships will allow you to eventually turn them into business opportunities.

Need help adjusting your trade show marketing plan so you can stay top of mind? We’re here to help.

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