Today’s topic is this — is this the death of live in-person events, live in-person conferences, and all the other big events we all used to have.

A lot of people that are in home services have been asking me what do they need to do if they get 50% of their business from a home show, for example. Or perhaps they are in the b2b space where they get almost all of their orders a year in advance from a particular trade show. Most of these small business owners are very much worried and confused. Sadly, I mean, a lot of small and local businesses right now are paralyzed with fear of just the unknown and not really knowing what steps they should take next.

What I’ve been encouraging local businesses to do that have a heavy in-person marketing strategy is to do a couple of things.

First, I want you to contact the meeting organizers and the organization of the events that you would be attending. For example, locally, there’s the Buffalo Home Show at the Buffalo Convention Center and it spans across multiple days. There are, I was gonna say hundreds but it probably could even reach thousands of different businesses from home services, pools, blinds, cleaning, gutters, roofers, water filters — anything and everything that relates to your home — your yard, inside, outside, and everywhere in between. 

Or there’s the buffalo bridal show. And there’s a lot of vendors that would go to that — wedding cakes, wedding dresses, limousine services, and a lot of these vendors that I’ve talked to because I go not only to look for vendors for myself, but I go just to talking kind of provocatively asking them about their marketing strategy. And I mean, there are some of these businesses that have said, “Well, we get more business than we can handle at this one show and we’re busy for the whole rest of the year.” So what if that doesn’t happen, given the situation we are all facing right now?

I want you again to first contact the show organizers and to see if they have any plans. Now, if they reply back and say, “well, we’re still waiting to see what happens and what’s going to take place.” What I would encourage you to do is to ask this simple question. “Are there any other promotional opportunities available to my business and myself that I could do beforehand?”

The other thing that you have to keep in mind with these associations and these organizations that are putting on these events — they’re obviously hurting pretty substantially as well. Because if their entire year is built around one event and all the sponsorship money they get, for example, and that event may or may not be happening, that organization could also be folding-up.

So, if you approach the organization and say, “Are there other sponsorship opportunities that I could do now?” Most likely, they’re going to either say:

  • “Yes, here are the options”
  • “I’m not sure. Let me get back to you.” 
  • “I don’t know.” 

So what I’m looking for you to do in a perfect world is come up with a couple of different offers and or opportunities that you can present back to them. Let’s say you’re a roofer. Maybe you could do a webinar, for example. The organization would blast their email list, saying you’re going to be doing a special webinar on XYZ topic. And the topic should be something that’s educational, that then ties into your product or your service.

You’ve got to keep in mind, the topic shouldn’t be a little bit broad. The topic shouldn’t be “Do you need a new roof? Yes, attend this particular webinar.”

Perhaps maybe it’s all about the unforeseen challenges of your roof that could be presenting and if your roof isn’t sealed correctly, it could leak, and that causes mold. Basically, you want to obviously bring some of the topics related to your service. Roofing isn’t the sexiest of webinar topics, but what you want to look at is if there is something that you could demo? Is there something you could do before the event? Could you give away some kind of special prize? It would have to be done and executed well because you don’t want to have one of those standard ones that I hate. It’s when people offer a grand prize of $5,000 in home renovation. So you get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that put their information in, and then I’m assuming they give someone the grand prize, who the heck knows. But then everyone magically comes in second place, and they’re going to get $1,000 credit towards any job over $10,000. It just, to me, it seems like a little bit of a bait and switch, but maybe that’s because I’m a marketer.

What could you do with these organizations to help yourself and to also help them because they’re probably also starving for content? Could you guys do some social media posts on your platforms and their platforms? Is it an email blast? Is it a Facebook live where you’re showing up and doing some great content to that particular association. You’ve got to get creative because my concern is that most of these events most likely will not be happening and that is our reality right now.

So if you want to make sure that you’re proactive, the first thing again, that I would do is contact the meeting organizers and see what else you can do

The second one is I want you to look at how much money you were planning on investing at that particular event and look at how you can start to spread that money out digitally. Can you start doing Facebook ads? Can you do Google Ads, sponsor some videos on YouTube, or perhaps Instagram ads? Is your brand a little bit more fun and upbeat? Maybe you look at doing Snapchat or literally even Tick Tok ads. What are some things that you can do with that money? 

And it’s not just all — if you pay $1,000 for the booth that’s only $1,000. If you’re there for two weeks, you got to factor in your time you got to factor in all the swag you are giving away or all the meals that you’d be eating out. If there’s someone else most likely that’s at your booth with you, then you got to factor in that salary for two weeks. And now you got two people that are probably eating breakfast, lunch, dinner out every day for two weeks. So like these don’t just go from $1,000 sponsorship. I mean, there are thousands and thousands of dollars of investments. How can you leverage that money to start working for you now?

Because unless your business is backlogged with hundreds or thousands of customers around the block wanting to do business with you, you need to take some action now. However, I can tell you that very few people are proactively reaching out to these associations and these events, the Chamber of Commerce — start reaching out to these people and just get creative. And then your second action item is to leverage that budget that you had planned and start to put it in place.

Now if the event ends up happening, hopefully in a perfect world, everything that you just did from a digital standpoint works, and then you can double down on yourself and still invest that money should the event happen. But I don’t want you to wait around and hope that it’s going to happen because I hate hope marketing. I need you to have a system that delivers you reliable, consistent results on a regular basis.

Hope this episode helped you. I look forward to catching you back here tomorrow.

Get out there, make a change, and take some action.