The TradeShow Must Go On!
How to take your show off-road and online.
Just like every other industry, tradeshows are being canceled or postponed due to the pandemic. With the uncertainty of when quarantines will lift and how long social distancing measures will be in place, businesses, associations, and groups are adapting. There are many ways your organization can stay connected using teleconferencing technology in conjunction with an organized Communication Plan.
We experienced this first-hand when our client Syngenta Flowers‘ California Spring Trials (CAST) event could not be attended in person due to COVID-19 quarantine measures. Originally scheduled for March 27-April 1, 2020, most everything but the last-minute items were already finalized when shelter-in-place orders were issued. Syngenta leadership had to make a quick decision to cancel, postpone or rethink the event. Just two weeks before opening day, the decision was made to cancel the tradeshow and do a live stream event instead. While we were in the midst of booking videographers and making plans with the Syngenta team to shoot each station of the show, shelter-in-place orders were issued. Our teams quickly pivoted to Plan C and collaborated on a completely web-based event.
We worked side-by-side with the Syngenta team to quickly rebrand and retool CAST to make the experience accessible online. The name of the event was changed to webCAST and promotions for this online experience began before it was even built!
In less than a week, our teams collaborated and produced a branded microsite with pages for all of their new products with videos, sales sheets and more. The Syngenta team curated a 2-day schedule of live webinars and demonstrations with their dispersed product managers, each live-streaming from their home offices.
The end result was well-received with over 800 attendees. As an added bonus, all of that content now lives on their website for more eyes to visit for months to come.
Once you’ve decided to cancel your show, it’s important to communicate with your attendees. If they have registered, prepare a statement that you can email explaining the decision, and link to additional information on a website. Chances are you will receive emails and calls with questions , so having a site for FAQs will help to share your response. “Am I getting a refund?” will be top of the list. Be as transparent as possible.
Think of a bunch of webinars strung together and you have a Virtual Conference. You can make it as simple as hosting a few keynote Zoom Webinars or use a service like Facebook Live or Brightcove Live to enhance the experience. Each of these services allow for integration into your website, or can be linked to your event information and promoted via Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Make sure to control audio to mute attendees, but turn it back on when you are ready for Q&A or use the chat feature.
If you livestream, make sure to record all of it. Chances are attendees will be busy putting out their own fires and will appreciate being able to tune in on their time later on. All this content can then live on your site and be used for months, if not years! However, don’t be afraid to pre-record your presentations as an alternative.
Several of my friends have discovered a new use of Zoom during the quarantine, to use it for Happy Hours. Since conferences are also so much about networking, considering making some small gatherings that people can sign up to share a lunch or drinks. This provides a way to connect people outside the presentations and continue discussions related to your event.
If you need assistance with any of these, Schipper is available to help! Email us to set up a free Zoom consultation on your project needs.
HOW WE CAN HELP
- Digitizing collateral into interactive PDFs
- Creating virtual campaigns via e-blasts, webinars, etc.
- Refreshing your brand system
- Converting your Brand Guidelines to a cloud-based website
- Creating social media assets and content