What to do when your event is cancelled or postponed?
Advice for dealing with event cancellations and postponements
You’ve taken the bold step – you’ve postponed your event in the interests of public safety. Your marketing machine went into full swing notifying your exhibitors and visitors of the new dates, or the cancellation and your sales and account managers are up to their eyeballs in firefighting.
…but, what can you do to help bolster the event in the meantime?
You’ve got loyal exhibitors who are standing by your decision and standing ready to exhibit at the next event, or the postponed dates
You’re sitting on data – loads of data – visitors who have booked and given you consent to contact them about the event.
Your social media channels are probably receiving more attention than they’ve had in years.
You’ve got a channel to market for your brands.
So, what can you do?
The first question is “what can I do to provide value to the exhibitors?” – the lifeblood of the show, the part that funds all the other activities.
Whilst the idea of year round contact with your audience on behalf of your exhibitors has been an ideal for many organisers for decades (and normally only available to those organisers who run other media, including publications and trade associations) – it is circumstances like these that give you the opportunity to kick start this additional media channel.
Your exhibitors will be missing out on a key part of their marketing activity in this period – much of their budgets will be tied up in focusing on the days of the event, meeting new and existing customers face to face and helping to build their order book for the next 12 months.
The prevalence of digital communications – of rich content enabled websites, of targeted email marketing, of social media channels means you have an opportunity to mitigate a little of the impact.
So – what steps could I take?
Contact your exhibitors
Put a bold proposition in front of them – between now and your event, you can show case their products, their brand, their services via your media channels to your entire audience. Not just a directory, but focus pieces
Prepare your marketing team
Once the exhibitors are on board with the plan, you need to prepare the outbound channels – whether it be “exhibitor focus” parts of your website, your outbound e-mails or your social media spaces.
Via your contractors, prepare to assist exhibitors in the preparation of assets
Do your exhibitors need the ability to create and edit rich media – video clips, animations, graphics, banners?
Your data team should be able to segment the data you hold on visitors to provide granular data sets so you can target outbound messages. Do you know enough about your exhibitors to slice and dice your visitor data and get the right companies in front of the right visitors?
Did you have a camera team, presenters scheduled for the dates of the show? Could they manage digital interviews via webcam or live stream from mobile devices to exhibitor show floors at their own offices? Could they provide you with rich media via telephone interviews and help you edit together some of the buzz you’re missing from a live event?
Copy writing teams
Identify and prepare your marketing team to be able to wax lyrical about individual exhibitors, get them to study their products and offerings and stand ready to assist exhibitors in getting their key messages out. Whilst the majority of exhibitors will be able to provide wording and online showcases of their products, can you help them?
You know your audience well.
An example plan:
1. Prepare an “exhibitor showcase” outbound plan. Two e-mails a week, daily tweets, a “showcase” section on your website.
2. Contact the exhibitors via their account managers, your sales team and get the buy-in of key brands – the market leading companies that are the major draw to your event
3. Educate and pre-warn your audience. “To bring you up to date with the companies you are hoping to meet at the event, we’re providing a regular showcase between now and the rescheduled event. Starting Monday, we’ll be highlighting key companies from our exhibitors and providing some in depth looks at their offerings.”
4. Upload detail, product images, video snippets and potentially brochures from the initial uptake of exhibitors.
5. Start the e-mail campaign. Limit the showcase to 5 companies per iteration so the detail doesn’t get lost.
6. Support with social media posts. One post per company, if uptake is high enough, two per post, but don’t overload individual tweets, or be too generic.
7. Update the companies who have taken part – how many visitors have been sent their details, how many have seen the tweets, or visited the website.
You’ll be seen to be doing your best by the exhibitors who have invested in your event and are standing by you. You’ll be providing value for their continued investment.
Visitors will stay engaged with you as an event brand and it will bolster their positive view of you, helping your pre-event campaign in readiness for the rescheduled event.
You’ll be able to ride the fallow period between the original dates and the new ones with rich content.
How can JET help?
If you need any support during this period of uncertainty due to the outbreak of Covid-19, then please contact us and we’ll do our best to help.