3 Lessons the Coronavirus Teaches Us About Trade Shows

Trade show attendees going to exhibit hall

You know that phrase, ‘You don’t know what you have until it’s gone’?

That rings true for thousands of companies across the world. With the ongoing Coronavirus health crisis, most face-to-face events have been cancelled or postponed. This gives sales and marketing teams a moment to step back and reevaluate their annual and quarterly goals and strategies.

Here are 3 major takeaways from recent events:

1) Trade Shows Matter

Truly, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. A recent survey found that the coronavirus has affected the creation of pipeline for 87% of surveyed companies. The current state has impacted companies spanning multiple industries who use exhibiting as a top lead gen strategy.  

For decades, trade shows and events have played a central role in sales and marketing strategies. The event industry has been a reliable source of revenue, and provided the ideal medium for for branding and networking.

Here’s what we know about the value of trade shows:

  • 81% of trade show attendees have buying authority (CEIR)
  • 92% of trade show attendees are actively looking for new products (CEIR)
  • 77% of executive decision makers found at least one new supplier at the last event they attended (CEIR)
  • 73% of B2B marketers say trade shows are better than other tactics for customer/client engagement (Demand Metric)
  • 88% of exhibitors attend trade shows to increase branding efforts (Skyline and EXPO Magazine)

With the recent situation, we realize now more than ever the importance of trade shows and events. Trade shows give you the unique opportunity to meet with decision makers and industry leaders. Exhibiting also significantly impacts branding efforts, networking, client engagement, product releases, etc.  In short, we’ve been reminded that trade shows matter more than ever for lead gen and marketing success.


2) Trade Shows Aren’t Going Anywhere

No matter the current state, we can find peace in one thing: trade shows aren’t going anywhere. In-person events play crucial roles in our digital world. People need face-to-face interactions to make connections. Plus, trade shows break down barriers and allow reps to sell directly to key decision makers. In short, the value is there, and that value will extend past this time of uncertainty.

As further evidence of that, more and more companies have devoted resources to exhibiting. The last few years, the event industry keeps gaining momentum. Based on 2019 Statista survey respondents, 84% plan on at least maintaining their budgets, with 36% of those respondents scaling up their event budgets. The current state is an unfortunate disruption to that momentum, but we can anticipate growth in the industry later this year. The latest projections expect a full recovery to the trade show industry come 2021. 

While some events during the COVID-19 concerns were cancelled, many have been postponed for later dates. Exhibitors can take heart in knowing that these great lead gen and branding opportunities will come, if not a little later than planned. For now, we can look forward to the future and prepare.  


3) We Need to Better Capitalize on Trade Shows

We know events will come back once health concerns clear, but what do we do in the meantime? The easy answer is to push events out of your mind and focus on it later once events resume. But that mistake could cost you. 

Once events return with consistency, many postponed events will hit all at once. Instead of events spread out throughout your year, you likely will have several crammed together within a few months. The full schedule may slow your post-show follow up and, as a result, cost you valuable deals. It could also add stress to your sales and marketing teams. Now is the time to get ahead of the situation and prepare.

By putting certain strategic processes in place now, you can save your team time and improve your results.

Here are our recommendations to focus on in the meantime: 


The #1 area you can look at now is your trade show strategy. Take a step back and evaluate your overall processes at trade shows, including (but not limited to)—

By honing in on your strategy now, you can streamline your upcoming events and boost your overall success.  


Lead Scoring

The next area to target is lead scoring. The goal is to route Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) straight to sales, and then take the Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) for further nurturing. Then your reps can follow up with the hottest leads first, and marketing can target the rest and help them along their buyer’s journey. For more information on effective lead scoring, check out these resources: 



Our final recommendation is to automate where you can. Automation is a major timesaver for teams; it can eliminate manual entry and other tedious tasks so your team can instead focus on innovative and strategic tasks. With an intelligent lead capture solution, you can automate the lead capture process and send leads straight into your CRM. During capture, you can also score and segment leads for faster and more effective follow up. To learn more about intelligent lead capture, request a demo here

We face an uncertain time, but we can look forward and plan for the future. Now is our chance to improve event processes and hone our strategies. By doing so, we can make sure to capitalize on all our valuable opportunities once events resume. Most of all, during this time we hope you wash your hands, follow instructions from health professionals, and stay safe and healthy. 

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