In the wake of a global pandemic, businesses find themselves with trade show budget allocations...but no trade shows.

Your goal now is to find ways to make up for the lost trade show opportunities through other marketing methods. How can you maximize your marketing budget and still accomplish many of your trade show objectives? 

Here are the three best places to redirect your trade show budget, and how they’ll help you meet your marketing goals:



While in-person exhibitions are on hold for the time being, email engagement is at an all-time high

This is a perfect opportunity to focus on your email lists and email content. Here are some tips:

  • Use the most up-to-date email lists from your sales software or CRM. Email outreach works best when your lists are segmented and clean, and your recipients have opted-in. 

HubSpot is a great place to start if your email lists need some work. With a little elbow grease, your email database will become a goldmine for direct engagement.

  • Include video content. Invest in video production and a video hosting platform to provide engaging audio and video content for your email campaigns. 

Video provides value because they are easy to consume, they’re effective for communication, and they reduce the amount of text you’ll need to include in your emails.

  • Implement mobile-responsive email designs. Mobile accounts for 46% of all email opens. Responsive email design means that your email will look great and function well on any device.

Mobile-responsive design also improves the effectiveness of your email efforts. Responsive design is shown to increase click rates for mobile devices by at least 15%

  • Use strong calls-to-action. Clear CTAs tell your recipients what to do next, so that they can move seamlessly through your sales funnel. 

Your CTA may need to change depending on the audience segment that is receiving the email. For example, hot leads might respond best to a “Buy Today” CTA, whereas low-engagement leads may be more likely to click on a “Learn More” CTA.

  • Rule of thumb: Valuable content helps you attract hot leads. Orienting every message around sales is not necessarily the best approach. Try to offer value to your email lists, encouraging them to open your emails and engage with your brand.

Some examples of valuable content are how-to guides, “explainers” that break down a complicated subject, free webinar links, ebooks, etc.



Social media is the closest we can get to trade show networking right now. Follow these social outreach best practices to make the most of your efforts: 

  • Be present: Constant active engagement with your social media audiences allows you to build relationships with potential clients and guide them to the next stage of the funnel in a personalized way.

  • Stay consistent: Regular posts demonstrate stability and commitment. Consistency also keeps you top-of-mind as you pop up regularly in your followers’ feeds.

  • Limit promotion-only posts: If someone tried to sell you something every time you saw them, you’d probably try to avoid that person. The same goes for social media. 

Inform, entertain, ask a question, tell a story...don’t just promote your product and services.

  • Link to a dedicated landing page: Many social media platforms give you limited opportunities to link to your website. Make sure the link you use gives you a chance to grab contact information immediately, so you can continue to connect with your visitor. 

  • Be a thought leader: Join LinkedIn groups and stay active. Forge new connections. Share your ideas and how you and your team are adapting to the changing business environment.



Targeted advertising campaigns can help you reach the prospects you’d normally find at a trade show. Here are some specific tactics to generate leads from the same pool of potential prospects that might have stopped by to visit your booth:

  • Target demographics based on your CRM data. Set geotargeting locations to venue and hotel addresses.

  • Create and use a set of advertising assets targeting would-be show attendees. Include a clear call-to-action.

  • Develop a show-specific landing page. Include a lead magnet that incentivizes your prospect to connect with you or provide their contact information. You can also offer a discount, special access, etc. 

Link your targeted ads to this page, and implement UTM tracking on performance and opt-ins to identify potential leads.

  • Follow up with prospects from your landing page with the same dedication you would give to a prospect who had their badge scanned at your trade show booth.

Marketers and business owners are amazing at turning challenges into opportunities. With a little digital marketing know-how, you’ll keep your marketing funnel filled until we’re all back on the trade show floors once again. 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends at Exhibit Options with any virtual booth rendering requests or special fabrication needs. We’re here for you!    

Tags: Resources