The current, rapidly spreading novel coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives in ways that are unprecedented and has turned the business world on its head. In the wake of this crisis, many of the events that B2B marketers all around the globe have spent months planning have been cancelled.
So far, according to data gathered by Bloomberg News, the spread of COVID-19 has scuttled over 50 major corporate events with an estimated attendance of almost 1 million.
Depending on the timing, scale, and your company’s specific plans and targets, a cancelled event can be either a minor setback or a major issue. Moreover, at the moment, missing events that you have planned and budgeted for might seem as if you are missing a whole bunch of leads. So how can you conduct B2B lead generation to replace a cancelled event? It is time to adapt to the crisis. Here are a few things you can do to stay on top of your lead generation goals.
WORK WITH ORGANIZERS TO BUILD VIRTUAL EVENTS
Organizers and event planners of cancelled events are currently in creative mode, looking for ways to continue their efforts virtually. As someone who regularly attended their events, you can reach out to them, and find out what their plans are to generate value for their community.
They might be planning for virtual conferences, online meetups, and webinars. Once you know what their plans are, you can try to integrate yourself with them by providing value. You can sponsor the event or offer to help run the event. You will most probably get a fantastic deal, becoming one of the main sponsors of the event for a price that may be much lower than normal. That gives you the advantage to dictate some of the agenda, own more of the sessions, or even send dedicated emails to their entire list. In the end, you get a bargain, you help your favourite conference, and you get valuable leads in return.
RUN YOUR VIRTUAL EVENT
Maybe the organizers of the event you intended to attend aren’t in the position to hold a virtual conference. In such cases, you can do it yourself if the resources permit. You can easily create an un-conference that leans towards the format of the event that was supposed to take place. It is easy to promote this type of event as already have an audience who was excited about an event that is now cancelled.
You may decide to run virtual meet-ups, a series of webinars, or video interviews. Any of these online events will appeal to the original audience of the conference and will help you gain hot leads for your business. You can start by making a list of the people that were supposed to speak at the event. Then, reach out to them and let them know what you are planning and ask if they’re interested. Once you have made a solid plan, promote it to the same audience that was planning to attend the original event.
UTILISE SOCIAL MEDIA TO CONNECT
You will find numerous posts from people expressing how heartbroken they are because they will not be able to attend a particular event or that are disappointed to miss the information that was going to be presented.
Collect the names of these people you find on social media, and reach out to them personally. Whether you plan on running your event or organizing something alongside the original conference, let these people know. Social media is a powerful tool, and with hard work and a little luck, you may even end up starting a new trend. Create your hashtags about the event being cancelled, and use that to push valuable, related content to a hungry audience.
LEVERAGE THE CONTACTS MADE AT PREVIOUS CONFERENCES
If you have been to any conferences in the past years, it is more than likely you’ve already collected valuable contacts. You probably have a huge list of emails, business cards, and names of the people you met at past conferences. Use these old email lists to amplify your efforts.
For example, if you are planning a virtual event or webinar series, why not reach out and let them know? Alternatively, use their insights to create relevant content. For example, you could create a survey for your contacts. Ask them what they are planning to do this year instead of going to the cancelled event, or what trends they are seeing in the industry. Based on the survey, you could create an industry report based on the comments from attendees of this event.
EXPERIMENT AND LEARN NEW CHANNELS FOR LEAD GENERATION
Chances are that you have probably tried lots of different channels for generating leads, but found that nothing was as useful as the tradeshows and conferences. Well, times have changed and the lack of channels cannot be used as an excuse anymore. Now, investing in different lead generation channels is not optional: it’s essential for the survival and growth of your business.
Redirecting to new lead generation channels is not something that happens quickly. You will need to be dedicated and patient to develop these channels over time. Look for social media groups that you could benefit by being a part of, start doing more LinkedIn Outreach, build content marketing strategies and use SEO to garner more traffic. This could also be the perfect time to start spending money on ads as prices are going down; allowing you to advertise in places you never could before
Following the aforementioned ideas, once we’re out of this downturn, you’ll have a stronger, more stable lead gen base and be even better prepared for future sales.