Late adapters are finally turning to digital

The disappearance of trade shows and other live marketing events, combined with increasing barriers to face-to-face sales meetings, places added pressure on businesses to market themselves through alternative means. If there is a silver lining, it’s that marketing dollars that were allocated to the live events may now be available for other efforts. Digital is expected to be the clear winner, says Bernard Marr, a strategic business and technology advisor.

The temptation, in these uncertain times, may be to claw back your unspent trade show and conference dollars and not spend them elsewhere. That could be a fatal mistake. Without sounding too alarmist, Marr says, the investment in digital marketing could be the deciding factor whether small or medium-sized businesses make it through the time ahead.

For B2B companies that are in industries that have been slow to adapt to digital marketing — and there are more than you might imagine — it means a rapid transition is necessary. “In the coming months, your prospective clients are going to be less open to the idea of letting you walk through the door and shake their hand. If it’s standard in your industry to go out and meet new customers face-to-face before you do business, adapting may mean opening new channels over web or social media platforms where introductions can be made and relationships fostered,” Marr states in a post on Forbes.com.

“If your organization previously put token efforts into digital channels — because like a lot of other businesses, you had built your networks offline and that had always seemed to work — now is the time to revisit them. That could be as simple as giving your website and social pages a refresh, or a more innovative approach.”

Ratnesh Singh, head of global business at events technology agency Buzznation, told Marr that businesses are experi-ment-ing with immersive 3D virtual events and live social platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn Live as substitutes for their lost trade show and conference networking opportunities.

“As long as businesses approach the shift to digital marketing strategically, there’s no reason why it should just serve as an emergency fill-in, but could carry on providing long-term value when the world eventually gets back to normal,” Marr says.

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