giphyI think everyone went into this year’s IBS/KBIS shows with a bit of trepidation. How would the experience come to life? What would the quality and engagement of attendees be like? How would a show that’s so massive IRL scale virtually?

The answers so far are “not so great.” With performance issues plaguing the platform, the entire exhibitor hall has been shut down indefinitely. If you were a brand that’s exhibiting you likely invested a considerable amount of time, energy and resources into your content for KBIS/IBS and now no one can access it. And the leads that you were going to generate for sales are not coming to fruition. Queue massive amounts of frustration, concern and confusion about how to move forward from here.

Here’s a path forward. Attendees are already looking for the exhibitor experience.

Unlock your content from the IBS/KBIS platform, move it to owned channels and start driving engagement. NOW. 

Here are 7 quick start ideas you can implement right away

  1. Create your own destination. Get an IBSx or KBIS dedicated landing page live. Today. I’m talking MVP here, minimum viable product. Getting it done is better than getting it perfect. You can always finesse later. Your web or IT resources tied up? Use a tool like Unbounce for a quick hit solution that requires minimal tech know-how and several out of the box templates. Make sure your landing page has a form so interested customers still have a way to flag their interest.
  2. Promote your destination on social media using #ibsx and #kbis and #designandconstructionweek hashtags. Leverage the recency of the tradeshow to let builders who are searching for updates on the tech issues know that you’re open for business.
  3. Use your database. Even if your customers weren’t planning on going to the show, now you can bring the show to them. Send them an email with your destination or content that you were promoting at the show. Encourage your current customers to raise their hands to learn more about what’s new with your company.
  4. Use targeted paid media on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google around keywords and discussion topics online. If you’re in a situation where you’re receiving a refund for your virtual exhibition space, reallocate those dollars to buy ads on LinkedIn or Facebook to target your audience and drive them to one of the activation experiences outlined above. Target builders using the Builder Top 100 company names in LinkedIn, or upload your builder CRM list into Facebook and run ads to these individuals to promote your digital tradeshow experience that they missed due to the lemons you were given by IBS/KBIS.
  5. Long term, if a virtual tradeshow is important to your strategy, think about using a platform like Hopin. While the investment is higher than using a one-time use platform, the rewards are the longevity and re-usability of the experience. Brands that did this were able to continue with their IBS/KBIS experience because it was hosted outside the tradeshow platform. And they can now offer the experience through individual sales meetings and follow-up conversations.
  6. Go Live.  There are several great options for going live with your content. Your audience is likely highly accessible in two places – LinkedIn Live or Facebook Live. Of course, you’ll want to do a bit of planning to determine your talking points, who’s going to be on camera, how you’ll promote your live event and other logistics. We recommend looking at your owned channels to promote your live event. These range from your website, blog, email, to social media and through your sales channel outreach. Use the opportunity to talk about what you had planned to showcase in the tradeshow. Do a screen share to demo what would have been in the virtual tradeshow.
  7. Not feeling the vibes of a live stream? Use your webinar platform to invite your audience to attend and share your tradeshow experience in this setting. There are some pretty sophisticated webinar experiences such as ON24 that allow you to hold interview style conversations, cut away to pre recorded clips, and engage with your audience in ways that many other systems don’t offer. A webinar is a great way to determine who in your audience is truly interested and engaged so your sales team has some insights to follow up about.

Seize the moment, capture this audience, turn lemons into lemonade.

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