Companies in the DACH region are particularly affected by the cancellation of trade fairs due to the Coronavirus restrictions. It’s simply one of the main channels for businesses to attract new customers. According to a survey by the Bundesverband Industrie Kommunikation in 2018, almost 40% of their members‘ marketing budget is spent on trade fairs and customer events. Online marketing and the company webpage have been growing in importance over the past years but until this year, they were often more of an afterthought. „Stiefmütterlich“ is the German word that comes to mind.


Corona has changed all this. Perhaps just for a year or so, perhaps forever. Just as many companies have discovered that working from home is actually possible – and at times preferable – businesses are looking at alternatives to trade fairs. What options do you have and which will bring your company the most promising leads?

Hold a Virtual Customer Event

If you’ve regularly held customer events, then you may be wondering how to replace them. One option is to go online.

Microsoft has reimagined their events, such as the Inspire partner conference to be fully digital and Gamescom, the massive gaming trade fair in Cologne is going online. But it isn’t just the huge corporations and established trade fairs that are taking this route. Companies are daring to go digital with their customer events.

Changing from an exhibitor at a trade fair to a provider of a digital event takes work. It’s obviously a lot easier if you already have IT knowledge in-house. Otherwise, you might be better working with an agency that has experience in setting up digital conferences.

One huge advantage of going online – you reach clients who might not have been able to take part. This is particularly helpful for smaller companies who don’t have a huge budget for travel and accommodation or who can’t spare staff to spend a few days on the road. You can also open up your event to those from even further afield if you offer some of your sessions in English for international prospects and customers. The Corona pandemic may be keeping you away from physically meeting your customers, but imagine how many great leads you can generate when you are able to break out of your geographical region.

Want to start small? Try a local digital event in just one area. Invite an expert in that area to do a webinar and offer networking opportunities.

Update your website or blog with the latest news

There is no better time to update your website. It’s been on the list of future projects for some time but now your marketing team isn’t busy booking events and hotels – put them to work on your „shop window“. It doesn’t have to be a complete re-design. That’s not something you do on a whim. But have a good look at your website – or even better, ask someone who doesn’t know what your company does or what product or services you offer. Ask them to explain your company, using the information on your website.

If your website is already pretty good but you are hoping to expand into new markets, don’t attempt to do so with a google translated website. Hire a translator. And make sure that they are a native speaker of the language of your target audience.

Don’t forget to update your website or blog to react in real time to the news of the day. Can your products be used to help businesses who are affected by the Coronavirus? Timify is a customer scheduling tool which pre-Corona was mainly used by service providers. They quickly realised, that the tool would be incredibly helpful to shops and businesses – and even education organisations – who wanted to schedule visits by customers to abide by Corona-restrictions and published a series of blog posts about this feature.

Let your customers know about innovations and product news that will help them. Add a slider to your homepage so that visitors are made aware of the ways you are trying to help them. Yaveon isn’t just providing assistance on adapting their customers‘ workforce to the challenge of working from home, they are also keeping customers up-to-date with the changes in VAT due to government Corona assistance.

Brush up your SEO

Search Engine Optimisation. It’s a fairly time-consuming but vital part of online marketing. If your marketing campaigns until now have been mainly event-based, you may need to hire outside assistance to improve your SEO. Or perhaps you have someone on your team who is interested in this topic and would be willing to undertake some training.

Don’t neglect your English SEO. Again, this could be an area of marketing that you want to outsource to experts.

Start an online marketing campaign

Your sales staff are stuck at home but so are your prospects. You need to meet them where they are – and right now, they are mainly online. If you don’t already use Social Media, it’s long past time you started. Use this time to select which channels work best for your brand. Think about your target audience. Are they more likely to use Facebook or Linkedin? Or are your potential customers scrolling through Instagram? There are a few ways you can use social media right now. Here are some ideas:

  • Grab some of your sales staff and get them to record a video explaining your product.
  • Share some candid WFH moments. Top tip – cats and dogs are always popular!
  • Give a preview of your upcoming event in a live video
  • Present a new product, or an update to an existing product
  • Explain why your product will help customers deal with Corona-related restrictions

Work on a message that will appeal to your prospects and draw them to your website – or encourage them to get in touch with you directly.

Keep your leads warm with an email series

A prospective customer has found their way to your website and your CTA worked – they’ve provided their email address. Now is the time to keep them interested with an email series. Send out a number of emails to your prospect with information about your product and how it will benefit them. Each email has a distinct CTA to entice your prospect to get in touch with you.  Here’s an example of an email series, similar to one that I wrote for a recent client:
Your email series could be just 4 or 5 emails, or it could be longer. It can be aimed at prospects or at current customers, e.g. to upsell or co-sell additional products.

Online Marketing won’t completely replace trade fairs and customer events, but it does have some huge advantages. You can experiment with a range of content, to find out what suits you best. You can reach prospective customers without huge costs being incurred for trade fair booth and travel. And of course, you can do it even in the middle of a pandemic! And finally, Online Marketing is comparatively inexpensive. Here are some examples of recent pricing for work I’ve done for customers:

  • €600 for a blog post 
  • €100 for a LinkedIn sponsored post
  • €400 for a short prospect email series
  • €600 for translation of a webpage (2000 words)

For the price of just one night in a hotel for your sales team, you can pay for a whole range of online marketing content. If you need help with this in the English language, get in touch – I can help.

Contact me

Do you want to impress your prospects with convincing marketing content?

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Do you want to win new customers?

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