Tradeshows Cancelled… What To Do Now Instead.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the United States and tradeshow after tradeshow is cancelled, manufacturers are being forced to get more creative with their marketing efforts in order to keep their businesses in front of their customers and prospects.

What can you do right now to keep leads coming in?
The lack of tradeshows has left a very large gap for most industrial manufacturers in their lead collection and overall marketing efforts. The question that remains is how do you fill this gap and continue reaching your customers and prospects, on a similar intimate level, when face to face meetings are not feasible? Now is the perfect time to get to work on your online presence and overall content creation. Here are a few ideas to get you going:

Virtual Tradeshows
Virtual Tradeshows are emerging as a new way to capture attention and connect with your customers and prospects. These are great to consider for your online marketing but be sure that the cost will be worth your time and effort. Since they are so new the tradeshow companies are still working out the kinks in pricing and attendance. It may be a better idea to host your own personal “virtual tradeshow” in the form of a webinar (see below).

Much like the virtual tradeshows, webinar popularity has skyrocketed this year. However, unlike virtual tradeshows, online meetings and webinars have been around for some time and are now incredibly user-friendly for a beginner to get started with. They are highly engaging, interactive, and provide recorded media that you can use in other ways (see content creation below) once the webinar has concluded.

You can conduct webinars utilizing online platforms (such as Zoom and GoToMeeting) which allow you to chat via video as well as text allowing your customers and prospects the opportunity to talk one-on-one with you about specifics of any given product or project. Webinars are also great ways to showcase your specific expertise, introduce new products or services, engage engineers in specific topics, or help them improve on their ideas, designs, and projects.

Trade Publications & Business Directories
Trade publications and business directories already specifically target your customers; use their long reach to get your company in front of more people. If you don’t already, consider advertising in these types of publications, both in print and online. Right now most are offering quite a lot of new and exciting opportunities for advertisements. Things like:

  • Sponsored newsletters
  • Collaborative webinars
  • Videos
  • Bulletins
  • Display ads
  • Banners
  • Print ads
  • Targeted emails
  • Editorials
  • White papers
  • Spotlights
  • e-Cards
  • Special reports
  • And more

The newsletters you send out are very important to the engineer that receives it. According to IEEE GlobaclSpec, 2/3 of all engineers surveyed subscribe to at least 3 newsletters. Email marketing is still a valuable and relevant marketing channel to utilize that helps you open dialogue with your customers and prospects.

What makes a good newsletter?

  • You should be sending at least one newsletter a month, but don’t overdo it
  • Make sure it will grab attention with a good subject line that makes them want to open and read the rest of the email
  • Make sure your newsletter body isn’t simply an ad for your company, you want to use these emails to benefit your customer and exchange valuable knowledge with them, not extol your own virtues (at least not exclusively)
  • Make sure the actual newsletter itself is relatively short (send them elsewhere to read full articles or interact with your offering)
  • Include at least one call to action (to your website/blog/landing page/webinar/etc.)
  • Include high-quality engaging visuals
  • Take the opportunity to educate and entertain
  • Make sure your content is useful and provides value to the recipient

Content Creation
80% of the buying decision is done online prior to any prospect outreach. Engineers highly value content created by other engineers. Now is truly the time to focus on your company’s content creation efforts.

What is content creation? Basically it is anything that you create and post online that is of value to a customer or potential customer. Items such as CAD drawings, tolerances, white papers, case studies, capabilities lists, uses for your products and services (beyond the obvious), blog posts, newsletters, social media posts, videos, webinars, and so much more.
As an expert in your field, you have the ability to educate others and solve their pain points… and with many more people working remotely from home, you have a pretty captive audience to share your expertise with. The more valuable content that you can produce and distribute the more authority you’ll gain in your industry and amongst your prospects.

What sort of content should you be working on and sharing? Content such as:

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) & PPC (Pay Per Click) Ads
With more and more people working remotely from home, they are spending a whole lot more time online. Do you currently run any PPC ads on search engines or social media platforms? If not, this is a great time to plan out and start your PPC campaign strategy. If you already do, now is the time to reassess your messages and make any necessary changes. You may want to do an assessment of your company’s current online presence and check what your competitors are doing.

SEM/PPC ads typically appear on search result pages of pretty much every major search engine, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Your ad is displayed when a customer or prospect types in a specifically selected keyword and you pay only if the person actually clicks on your ad. Since PPC ads specifically target people that are interested in your products and services, they are a great way to reach customers, gain new traffic to your website, raise awareness of your company, gain new leads, they are cost effective, and you can easily measure their success.

Your ad would link directly to your company website or a landing page built specifically for the PPC campaign. You have paid for that person to get your site, make it count! Make it simple for the visitor to find the information or offering that they came there for. Also make it easy for them to contact you if they wish to do so.

What sort of campaigns should you run? Here are a few ideas:

  • Giveaways or downloads for lead generation purposes (such as a new white paper, a new catalog, or educational video)
  • Webinar or virtual tradeshow announcements & signups
  • Specials
  • New products
  • Announcements
  • Events

What do you need to get started?

  • You need to know who you want to reach
  • You need relevant keywords
  • You need to pick what type of ad you want to run (text or image)
  • You need to have good ad copy written
  • You need a budget
  • You need to know where to send the person clicking on the ad

Update your Website
Since people cannot physically connect with you and our company odds are good they will be spending a lot more time on your website instead, but only if your site offers them valuable content. Make sure that your site is up to date, easy to navigate, easy to find your contact information, and that it contains the technical information your engineering customers are looking for.

What should you consider adding right now that would benefit your customers? Items such as:

  • Chat-bots to assist visitors quickly in real-time
  • Update any information that is out of date
  • Add new information that would be valuable to your customers (processing time, shipping times, testimonials, certifications, etc)
  • Add any new capabilities or offerings
  • Refresh the overall look and feel
  • Add a blog to your site
  • Make sure you have an updated SSL Certificate
  • Make sure that your site is mobile-friendly (or make it mobile-friendly)
  • Make sure that you have prominent calls to action in appropriate places (or add them)

Double-check your site’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to make sure that your keywords are still relevant, all internal and external links work correctly, and all of your meta information is filled out and accurate. Not sure where to begin? The Rico Group offers a free website SEO and PPC Analysis, including an in-depth competitor report, to give you a good look at your online performance and what improvements can be made.

Also, did you know that it is your responsibility to be sure that your customers are safe while on your site? If you don’t have site security, it is well past time to add it. You need to be sure that you have an SSL certificate installed, that you are employing a website security platform, and you need to be sure that your site is regularly automatically backing up.

Want more? Download the infographic:

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With over 30 years of experience, The Rico Group specializes in helping industrial manufacturers and job shops grow their business and diversify their customer base. We know how engineers think and what they are looking for. We know your processes, equipment, and materials. We also know that you have very little time to take away from your production and getting your customer’s orders delivered.

Grow your industrial business with better marketing with The Rico Group.
(805) 497-7401