By Aubreigh Ulicki

If you sell in the manufacturing space, trade shows are likely a big part of your marketing strategy. Trade shows allow you to generate brand awareness, network with influencers, and sell directly to qualified prospects. So what happens when attending trade shows isn’t an option? Digital marketing becomes your invaluable tool.Digital marketing tactics allow you to meet your prospects when and where they’re searching while still building that rapport. There are a number of tactics you can implement, but the two we’ll focus on here are webinar production and video marketing.

Webinar Production

GoToMeeting defines a webinar as “an online seminar that turns a presentation into a real-time conversation from anywhere in the world.” Your manufacturing company can host a webinar, or you can bring in other industry players to co-host a webinar in place of a trade show. Keep in mind that just because your event is digital doesn’t mean less work should go into the strategy.

Here are a few items to consider in your planning efforts:

What will the webinar cover? 

Choose captivating topics your prospects are genuinely interested in. Depending on your manufacturing niche, consider discussing industry trends, product innovations, improving inefficiencies, reducing waste and/or cost, and more.

When will it take place?

Determine the best day and time to hold your webinar. Make sure you take different time zones into consideration while doing so: Prospects on the West Coast may not attend an 8 a.m. EST webinar. 

How will we deliver it to attendees?

Decide which webinar software you’ll use to deliver the presentation. Pay attention to the features each platform offers. For example:

  • Integrations available (does it connect with your CRM?)
  • Registration interface
  • How many presenters it supports
  • How many attendees it can hold
  • Screen-sharing capabilities
  • Polls/surveys
  • Live chat
  • Analytics
  • Recording
  • And more

A few of our favorite platforms include GoToWebinar, WebinarGeek, and Zoom.

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Which channels should we use to promote it? 

Ensure you’re promoting your webinar in the right places and at the right times. Do you want to invite your existing customer base? Shoot them an email invitation. Looking to reach new prospects? Extend the invitation in relevant LinkedIn groups. 

You may also consider promoting via paid media. For even more ideas, check out our article “20 Ideas for Promoting Webinars Before, During, and After the Event.” The main takeaway is to make sure you promote far enough in advance to give potential attendees plenty of notice.

What happens after? 

Your marketing efforts shouldn’t end when the webinar does. Ensure you have a plan in place to reach attendees (and others interested) even after it concludes. 

Here are some steps you might want to include in your plan:

  • Take the recording from the live webinar and turn it into an “on-demand webinar.”
  • Gate the “on-demand webinar” behind a landing page with a form to require users to fill out information before watching.
  • Send attendees a follow-up email with a playback link and a “thanks for attending” message.
  • Send registrants who didn’t attend a follow-up email with a link to the “on-demand webinar.” Bonus points if you create a smart follow-up email.
  • Promote the “on-demand webinar” on social media.

You’ll also want to make sure you follow best practices when promoting and executing your webinar. Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure you choose an engaging speaker to host the webinar.
  • Create an agenda and be sure to communicate what the webinar will cover in your promotional efforts.
  • Schedule a “test run” to ensure everything runs smoothly.
  • Save enough time for questions at section breaks, or toward the end of the presentation.
  • Ensure backup technologies (computer, projector, and the like) and a backup host are in place ... just in case.

Video Marketing

If you don’t have the time or resources to roll out a webinar just yet, consider investing in video marketing as an alternative. A SmartBug® colleague explains it best in noting that “video marketing is one of the strongest ways to give a visual introduction or demonstration of your products or services.”

Consumers don’t buy from companies; they buy from people. Video is a great way to both humanize and personalize your message—and when you start with a story, video can make a powerful impact.

Here are a few types of videos to consider as you build out your strategy:

Blog Videos

Pull highlights from top-performing blog posts and turn them into quick 30-second videos to promote on social media.

Virtual Tours

Give prospects and customers a “behind the scenes” look at your manufacturing space with a virtual tour. Show them how your team produces your products and services.

How-To Videos

Record instructional videos to show users how to install specific products, how to troubleshoot machinery, and more.

Product Demo Videos

Illustrate how your most popular products work by showing them in action.

Product Review Videos

Capture real-life customers reviewing your products on video. Ask them to highlight which problems your products helped them solve.

Interviews

Interview your team members, asking questions that showcase their expertise.

Q&As

Film a panel of industry experts answering frequently asked questions. If calendars are booked, a one-on-one Q&A session will also do the trick.

Testimonials and Case Studies

Turn written customer testimonials and existing case studies into videos.

“Before and After” Videos

Shoot “before and after” videos with customers you provided a solution for.

Finally, consider incorporating video in your emails to prospective and existing customers. Here at SmartBug, we’re big fans of Vidyard. With the click of a button, we can record ourselves walking clients through strategies and recommendations that would be much more difficult to explain in written words.

A Bird's-Eye View

Although trade shows are no longer a catalyst in connecting manufacturers with prospects, the opportunity to build relationships digitally still exists. Video and on-screen collaboration can help us bring empathy back into motion, personalizing the messages we’re reaching out with.

How is your manufacturing company replacing trade shows this year? Tweet us: @SmartBugMedia.

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Aubreigh Ulicki

About the author

Aubreigh Ulicki is a Marketing Consultant for SmartBug Media. After being introduced to HubSpot in 2014, she began implementing the inbound methodology for both B2B and B2C clients. Aubreigh has experience in a variety of industries including public transportation, general dentistry, healthcare, and automotive. She has a passion for helping clients grow their business by sharing helpful, relevant content. Read more articles by Aubreigh Ulicki.

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