Coronavirus, tradeshows and keeping competitive

By Peggy Tierney Galvin, Director, Account Services

As I was washing my hands (and humming Happy Birthday*) for the 10th time yesterday, I was thinking about the startups I met with at RSA Conference in San Francisco. Despite coronavirus worries, the show was alive with foot traffic and booth activity, with many of our clients nabbing last-minute meetings with customers and partners after hours.

Yet RSA Conference may have been the last hurrah for major tech conferences in the foreseeable future, with NVIDIA and Google converting their in-person events into virtual sessions, and other behemoths like MWC and SXSW being straight-up canceled.

For startups that rely on venture funding, this disruption of in-person events is not just an inconvenience–it’s a threat. Startups need to show a rapid, appreciable ROI on the capital they get from investors, and “IRL” tradeshows are business accelerators. They are rich environments for meeting and doing business with potential GTM partners, customers and prospects. For all their promise, virtual events just don’t offer the same opportunities for rainmaking.

What are creative ideas that startups and other tech innovators can use to ensure that they’re still getting the visibility, awareness and buzz that a booth and announcement at an industry tradeshow can provide?

A “both/and” strategy is one way forward: Generate buzz through virtual media roundtables. Conduct online chats and customer/partner panels. Execute sustained thought leadership campaigns. Grab attention by publishing video content via social media. And always be ready to change your game plan as things move along.

Just remember to wash your hands.

* It’s recommended that you take a good 20 seconds to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. That’s about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday – twice. And it will make you smile.