Series #fmbewords: Taking a step back amongst the disruption

by Keith Austin, CEO, EMS, the global roadshow agency

We’re in the midst of an extraordinary period of change in the events sector, with multiple major events, exhibitions and fairs having been postponed or cancelled due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The 90th Geneva International Motor Show, Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, Hanover Messe and E3 2020 are just a few of the big names affected. Marketing and events teams the world over are now shifting their focus to ensure that when this ends they have plans in place to ensure they still meet their targets for the year.

In the last week alone, we have had conversations with multiple global brands looking to activate from summer onwards, in a bid to counter the effects of missing their key tradeshows and exhibitions.

It’s been a pertinent reminder to all of us of the importance of having a contingency plan.

Though advice currently reassures us that this disruption will be short-term, with many events postponed for a few months’ time, the reality is that this situation could continue to push the calendar back. Yet brand presence, product launches and customer engagement will still need to be maintained. Events such as Mobile World Congress have traditionally been a key platform for tech brands to launch their latest innovations, acting as a springboard for all other marketing activity.

Whilst the value of these shows cannot be underestimated, having multiple routes to reach key audience and customers is vital. When mapping out a strategy, businesses need to ensure contingency measures are in place and examine how flexible their marketing strategy is, and whether it can be readily adapted in the face of unexpected circumstances, without causing major disruption to the bottom line.

Digital strategies have become an obvious choice for many, but don’t underestimate the power of a personalised experience from roadshows or pop-ups; these leave a strong impression and allow for greater dialogue with an audience.

We’re seeing across the events industry, and from our clients, this eagerness to embrace alternatives to exhibition presence and explore a roadshow tour as a resilient strategy, which can be launched in a matter of weeks. A tour can counter the impact of missing an exhibition, and provide brands with the flexibility to take their product or service directly to customers.

By catering to a smaller audience, it can offer an immersive brand experience for visitors and at a time and location that is at their convenience. Ensuring brands don’t miss out on reaching their target audience.

Above all else, a tour can be flexible to requirements and contingency plans, and be redirected at a moment’s notice or paused for a period of time in the event of major unforeseen circumstances.

Though uncertainty remains over how the coming months will unfold, now is the time to be adaptable and plan early to get ahead once restrictions are lifted.

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