It’s fair to say that, like most types of live events, the trade show calendar for 2020 didn’t exactly go to plan for obvious reasons! It will have been very noticeable for security purchasers looking to be educated on the latest and best options available for their budgets, but equally it was a stark contrast for us providers too, with our sales and marketing calendars normally punctuated with regular appearances at events around the globe.
As we (fingers crossed) start to see some light at the end of the tunnel as the vaccination programme is rolled out worldwide, and the world tentatively takes steps back to a more settled equilibrium, it’s a good time to look at the pros and cons of live events and to consider the best ways to engage with the security market moving forwards.
We all know that live events have a certain thrill, both from a visitor’s and an exhibitor’s point of view. Undoubtedly, they make a big bang when it comes to launching new products - we all like to see these ‘in the flesh’ or being demonstrated by experts. You can read about a product and see high-res photos, but sometimes it’s nice just to be able to pick it up and have a play.
Equally, for TDSi meeting up with customers, potential customers, and partners is always a real strength of a live show. Catching up over a coffee, having a chat and talking about the other exhibits and what you have seen around the show are all harder to do with virtual events. Perhaps these sorts of interactions will become more natural as virtual events become more common - there may also be a ‘generational’ element too, as the up-and-coming security industry players take the reins having been raised on online content and with evolving expectations. However, for now, the live experience is still a unique one.
There are of course some drawbacks to live events too. The time and expense for everyone having to travel to a central location is an obvious one (something which has become very clear as we have all embraced online meetings over the last 12 months for example!) Often visitors will attend a large show to only visit a few applicable stands but will have to face all the hustle and bustle of reaching the venue and moving around a packed building.
From an exhibitor’s point of view there are also considerable investment costs and practical preparations to appearing at a show, starting months (and sometimes years) ahead of the event. This leaves little room for flexibility in scheduling what will be on show and which teams/partners will be taking part. When something like a pandemic turns up unexpectedly it makes this even more difficult.
The old proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention” has proven to be very apt over the last year or so, particularly for certain businesses that have grappled to use previously underemployed online communications platforms to fill their marcoms gap. However, arguably most savvy businesses should have been employing online digital marketing already.
Online marketing is the obvious and sensible alternative to live shows, and something which has accelerated through necessity during the pandemic restrictions. At TDSi we believe a mixture of communications is the key to reaching your audience and keeping them engaged. This involves social media, digital PR, and direct engagement through specific virtual events – all of which are perfect for reaching an audience which expects this as a minimum (particularly as younger generations come to the fore).
The other benefit of online appearances is that you can tailor them more specifically for your target audience. A large trade show will (rightly) look to attract a broad range of visitors across a specific industry or sector (or even several complementary ones, such as security and fire for example). This is great for visitors looking to view and be educated on a broad range of products/services, but for a focused buyer this can just be a distraction. Running specific online events allows for a targeted approach to content and often a more directly focused approach, with better scope for one-to-one interaction when its needed.
This targeted approach can also work very well for live events too. Smaller targeted events can be geared towards a more narrow and specific audience, which ensures that attendees get what they need and want, whilst the event hosts speak to a fully engaged and relevant group. Flexibility in the way you present to your audience is the keystone of a smart, modern approach to marketing and one which TDSi is passionate about.
Upcoming live appearances by TDSi
Like the rest of the world, the security industry and live events are taking their first careful steps since the pandemic, but TDSi is excited to unveil several upcoming events and public appearances (all subject to local Health and Safety guidelines of course):
We look forward to welcoming you to one of these events, or subsequent ones in the near future!
Zara Taylor – Marketing Manager at TDSi