While we are all still facing global quarantines that hinder our ability to meet at an annual trade show, these are still very uncertain times.  There are still of course glimmers of hope that we’ll be back to gather with industry peers to present our goods and services and increase sales in the fall and winter months.  However, until then, we are still all adjusting to the uncertainty surrounding our collective industries.  Until you can attend another industry trade show, we’ve compiled multiple ways that you can keep in close contact with your prospects without being spammy or make the mistake that Fashion Nova made and create a huge public backlash against your brand:

Practice Empathy

Sales is having a tough time across a multitude of industries without the ability to meet at a trade show.  In a time when over 22 million Americans alone are out of work, it’s difficult to know who’s still in place at a company.  Even more difficult to determine is their mood during this time.  This is the time to practice empathy in communicating with your list of prospects and leads.  It’s not the time to take out a commercial saying we care, buy a car. Instead, get an old-fashioned list together of your desired trade show leads and prospects and practice real old-fashioned empathy.  Leave the overtly sales chatter behind and try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes.  Recent research has suggested that emails mentioning coronavirus or covid-19 receive a 60% decrease in open rates right now.  Focus on trying to speak to your desired audience like real human beings.  When you’re at a trade show, you don’t immediately yell out “Buy my products” so keep it tame in your empathetic contacts as well.

practice empathy in advance of your next trade show

Invite Your Prospects and Leads to View Digital Literature Outside of a Trade Show

In the sales cycle, after initial interest, many brands also send some sort of digital content to pique people’s interest and to qualify them as a sales lead.  This can be an equally effective tool for you now when your trade show is either postponed for months off or cancelled until the next year.  Don’t squander an opportunity to talk to people who have more time now to read your global insights, industry projections, and more.  Instead, get in front of these people with information, similar to how you might approach them at a trade show.

Absolute Exhibits trade show exhibit

Provide a Bit of Levity to their Day

There are many memes circling the internet which have gone viral about people’s experience during quarantine.  These have become incredibly popular because they provide much needed levity during uncertain times.  Your brand can take a similar approach.  Do you make something technology focused?  Try fashioning something out of used toilet paper rings and scotch tape and post it on social media with a tongue in cheek caption about your newest product being brought to market during the pandemic.  There are many opportunities to cut through the fear, the uncertainty and the noise with a little bit of humor.  When your industry rebounds, those who saw your social media posts will remember you at the trade show for the laugh they needed in the moment. People who were entertained by you during this time are far more likely to stop by your trade show booth than seeing a boring old post that you share weeks before the show when it rebounds.

humorous trade show marketing

Make People Aware of an Alternative Event to a Trade Show

Recently, the US President announced a three-tiered plan to reopening society. What that represented was an opportunity for your brand to structure a solid marketing plan around alternatives to trade shows.  Social distancing can still be achieved with mobile marketing tours and demonstrations.  Speaking engagements can be structured with less people and socially distanced within hotel ballrooms and other locations.  This is the time to think outside of the box and not just focus on the loss of your annual trade show.  Instead, think how at each tier your brand can continue to move forward with confidence.

With that in mind, you can then reach out to your prospects, leads and customers to let them know you’ll be in their area to give a mobile demonstration or a presentation of some kind.  Get them excited.  Are you rolling in with burgers for a lunch and learn? Maybe setting up a mobile demonstration hands on kind of event?  Generate some excitement with your desired audience by keeping them informed.


We are still finding our way forward through the coronavirus pandemic.  As societies reopen and a trade show seems like a viable idea again, you’ll want to be closer than ever with your prospects.  This means keeping in touch with them between these annual, biannual, or even triannual events. For more great advice, talk to your exhibit house partner.  They can make some recommendations you may not have thought of during this period of uncertainty.

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