Early this year, the team at Canopy decided we were going to participate as Solution Partners in our first ever SMASH, which is billed as “Senior Care’s Premiere Sales and Marketing Summit” (hence the acronym). The annual SMASH expo has traditionally taken place in Las Vegas, Nevada in late October, but given the emerging pandemic, the decision to go virtual in early 2020 was made by Senior Care Summits which is the organization that manages this trade show. The decision to pivot to a wholly digital platform was a wise and necessary choice given the obvious risks attendant in hosting an in-person event along with stringent new government regulations. To say this was a herculean effort on the part of the events planning team at SMASH is an understatement and we tip our hat at the hard work they continue to do in order to make this necessary and invaluable event a success.
For us at Canopy, meeting with our peers and valued partners in the Senior Living industry and exchanging new ideas and hard-won perspectives on the seismic changes taking place in advertising technology is a core component of our company culture. When it comes to meetings, our preference has always been ‘face to face’, although like the vast majority of us, we have now shifted to an almost entirely virtual meeting process.
Going virtual hasn’t in any way deterred us from embracing our first time at SMASH. In fact, Bobby Youngs, our company founder, will be giving an ED Talk on Digital Strategies on Monday, Oct. 19. You can check out Bobby and other notable speakers from 10:30am to 11:30am PST. Click this link to check out the ED Talk schedule at a glance SMASH
The new normal means trade shows are now virtual…and more vital than ever
Summits, expos and trade shows are absolutely essential when it comes to initiating meaningful business relationships and nurturing established partnerships. Trade shows provide an invaluable forum for all of us to immerse ourselves in cutting-edge technology, industry innovations, corporate governance and so much more.
Giving a virtual talk and participating in a trade show remotely may be the new normal, but we are confident that trade shows and expos will become increasingly important in the future, specifically because they are just one of a handful of ways for businesses to make a compelling first impression with prospects and customers alike.
With that in mind, following are five tips for maximizing your virtual trade show experience during COVID-19:
- Think Strategically: Most trade shows can be overwhelming when you begin to factor in how much you can see, do and experience in just a single day (and that assumes your in-box and phone won’t tear you away from truly engaging with the events). It’s also critical to consider what your ultimate goals are with regard to each trade show and what objectives you or your company hope to achieve by participating in the first place. One of the reasons we’re participating in SMASH is because of the incredible line-up of Senior Living providers as well as our peers in digital marketing. Reviewing the event agenda, online destination, social channels and presenter lineup well ahead of the show can really help you distill what key takeaways and learnings you hope to achieve. In addition, reaching out to fellow attendees several weeks prior to the show kicking off can go a long way in creating far more compelling discussions, the kind which ultimately generate shared connections and business
- Embrace the virtual setting: If you’ve attended or exhibited in a trade show you know just how grueling it can be. Long days, setting up and tearing down a booth, waiting for hotel shuttles and subsisting on pre-made sandwiches isn’t quite as glamorous as many people think. Removing the logistical aspect of the typical trade show means hours if not days of newfound time. Live streamed and pre-recorded exhibitor content and panels makes it a breeze to explore a line-up of speakers and key note speeches that might not otherwise have been feasible. At Canopy, in-person attendance will always be our preference, but we’re leaning into the virtual format and embracing the opportunity to connect with our peers around the country.
- Use digital tools: Many trade shows have dedicated apps for attendees to navigate the speaker line-up, participating companies, bios and more. Lead capture software has become increasingly sophisticated and in many instances, trade shows now offer tools so that exhibitors can request and secure key info including the name of attendees, the companies they represent and often even their email addresses (it goes without saying, but all of this information must be secured after requesting and receiving opt-in approval from the party you plan on reaching out to)
- Network (and then network some more): It’s easy to overlook post-expo follow up. Many of us do our due diligence heading into a trade show but connecting with fellow exhibitors or participants is an important component of building critical mass. Long-term connections are made at every trade show, regardless of the industry, but achieving invaluable relationships based on mutual interests or objectives requires that we continue to nurture prospects long after the post-exhibit glow has faded
- Be sure to follow through: Now more than ever, LinkedIn has become the de facto hub for likeminded peers to connect. You can check out Canopy’s LinkedIn page here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/canopyadco. At Canopy, we thrive on creating meaningful relationships with our partners and peers. Sharing information on strategic approaches to grow occupancy and drive sales is an approach we’ve used since the company was founded three years ago. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all ships.
Keep an eye out for additional posts on what promises to be a very exciting SMASH 2020. We hope to see you there (virtually of course)!