Thanks to COVID, trade shows might seem like a thing of the past. But thankfully for marketers everywhere (and us!), this isn’t the case. Trade shows will in fact return; we just don’t know when or how. So, it’s important to have some contingency plans in place as you keep an eye on the trade show industry news and COVID-19 trade show updates. Here’s what we recommend. 


Recognize the Uncertainty

No one likes a know-it-all (yes, there’s a reason no one wants to invite Aunt Ruth to family gatherings anymore). But this is especially true when science, world precedent and world leaders don’t have clear answers for us. Projections about COVID-19 make most of us squirm, because we all know that no one really knows what the future of this pandemic holds. 

So, when you make plans and communicate with your team members and customers, be real. Don’t pretend to know that your next trade show will “definitely happen” because it definitely might not. Similarly, don’t confidently write off in-person trade shows forever, since most people believe they’ll be back at some point (possibly even next year). Be a little vulnerable, and admit you just don’t know – and no one does. So you need to plan for a variety of outcomes. 


Plan & Adjust 

This brings us to our next tip. Don’t wait to hear COVID-19 trade show updates from a show organizer, like a middle school girl waiting for a phone call from a cute boy. You make the next move – and that move is planning. But you can’t map out your marketing as usual because this era is anything but usual. You need Plans A, B and C, at a minimum. 


Plan A should be in-person trade shows (e.g. life pre-COVID), and should include details around how you’ll keep employees and booth visitors healthy and safe. Plan B should be a switch to a virtual show environment and Plan C should be a complete cancellation. You’ll need different marketing strategies and tactics for each one, and you’ll be far better off having at least a rough game plan in mind when you get firm confirmation about the reality. 

For example, if your next trade show is canceled, you might have a direct mail and digital campaign queued up that you can quickly execute. This can help you react quickly and reach a similar audience, despite the show’s cancellation. And of course, as you get new information, adjust these scenarios accordingly. 

Need help planning how you’ll handle your next trade show? We can help. Contact us anytime!