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Conference or event canceled? Here are 5 Ways to Engage with Customers without Meeting in Person

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The event you've been working on for the last 6 months is canceled, so what's next? Here are 5 ways to engage with your customers that don't require you to meet in person.

If you haven’t already canceled your marketing event, your company is probably thinking about it. Some of the largest conferences, trade shows, corporate summits and festivals around the world have already been cancelled. Events including SXSW, Facebook Global Marketing Summit, Google I/O and SAP Ariba Live have responsibly put a hold on their annual event for the safety of their employees, customers and attendees.

Demand generation is a huge revenue driver, so when your annual company conference is canceled, it’s a big deal and a major miss in opportunity to connect with more customers. Marketing teams spend 6-9 months planning these massive events--from working on budgets, confirming speakers, forecasting attendance and ROI, to hiring production vendors, conceptualizing theme and overall art direction, organizing schedules and travel--and it’s a lot of work. Needless to say, public health surrounding Coronavirus has and will continue to impact your business and make it difficult to engage with potential customers and existing ones face-to-face.

Here are 5 ways to engage with your customers if your event is canceled:

1. Host a Virtual Event

You probably already have impressive keynote and panel speakers lined up for your event program. Perhaps your CEO was going to interview Serena Williams on stage. Despite not having a physical stage anymore, you can film the interview as a fireside chat someplace local to the guest speaker. For Q&A, have your guests ask questions via Twitter with a specific event hashtag, so you can still interact with your audience. If filming on location is not possible, a simple video conference could work as well.  

2. Use direct mail and collateral to get customers excited about your product

Your attendees are probably disappointed about not being able to learn more about your product and connect with salespeople face to face. Don’t worry--use product marketing resources to print unique booklets and fun collateral about your offerings and features. Combine printed collateral with unique, on-brand swag to stand out amongst your competitors. Your customers won’t be expecting this after the canceled event, but they will be pleasantly surprised!  

3. Offer free workshop videos, hosted by your business leaders

Have your business leaders from each department film a webinar using tools like Flow, Zoom, Livestream (links). They probably already have materials from talking to customers or training employees. By sharing that material and knowledge, you can reach an even wider audience than a physical event.

4. Throw an event in a box with items from your sponsors

Use any of the 3 above ideas for getting product messaging to your customers. But what about your sponsors? Ship an “Event in a Box” package, while including sponsored swag. Each major/premium sponsor can include a medium to large item in the box with their branding and collateral attached. Make sure to provide links to your team’s free webinars or virtual events so they can attend from anywhere around the world.

5. Produce an online social media campaign while sending swag offline

Using social media marketing can be very powerful during a time when most people are staying home and avoiding public areas. Hire photographers and videographers to produce content for a campaign that can go viral. Social media is all about telling a compelling story, which is similar to hosting a 4-day corporate event like your annual company conference. If you already have film and photography prepared, upload them onto YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Ship each attendee a box with your company swag, so they become advocates for your brand even months after your previously scheduled event.

If your team has been affected by a recent cancelled event, we are here to support you in any way possible. Whether your budget has been moved or not, there is still hope to connect with prospects and engage with customers. We’ve been to almost all of these corporate conferences in previous years and know how much attendees look forward to these annual events. During this difficult time, we hope to find new ways to connect with each other and stick together as a community and country. Send us a note; we’d love to chat if you have any questions at all.


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