Repurposing Content Canceled Shows

Repurposing Content When Your Conferences Have Been Canceled

The coronavirus outbreak has led to widespread conference cancellations. Here's how to pivot your marketing strategy.

By C&EN Media Group

Reading Time: 5 minutes

For science marketers this year, tradeshows and conferences are no longer an option for generating leads and raising awareness, so it’s time to adapt and innovate. To be clear: There is no silver bullet. We’re all in uncharted territory looking for a marketing roadmap and forging our own path. However, a flexible marketing strategy that involves repurposing content can be your best friend in the tumultuous world we’re living in.

With a mixture of mediums and a personal touch, you can continue to expand your audience, build out your company’s sales funnel, and forge ahead, even with a pandemic-sized roadblock in your way. Here are a few ideas.

Trading Presentations and Posters for Video

A huge part of going to conferences is getting KOLs and panels of experts or thought leaders out there singing the praises of your products to hordes of potential customers. With meeting rooms, presentation halls, and auditoriums now vacant, it’s time for plan B.

So, turn to the next best thing: Video. Over 80% of businesses rely on video for marketing. YouTube has become the 2nd most popular search engine on the internet, outranked only by Google. With more people at home searching to solve problems, now is the perfect time to capitalize with engaging video content.

And videos are now easier than ever to create: Presentation software like PowerPoint has a record feature that allows your scientific leaders or KOLs to present their slide decks with the latest clinical data or new product from the comfort of their own home. From there, you can upload it to YouTube or host the video on your website and share through social media to drive traffic and raise awareness. The video format also lends itself to less prescribed tactics, such as informal conversations between industry leaders and external experts, like in this video from Novartis on cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can also turn these presentations into live events, using a number of different platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn or Twitter. SynBioBeta recently organized a 2-hour live roundtable on YouTube Live, featuring some of the distinguished academics and industry leaders working on the development of COVID-19 antibody therapies. Live events like this are also available for on-demand viewing, allowing anyone who misses the event to can go back and view it, further expanding your reach.

Webinars have always been successful for generating leads, and are versatile in that they can be used for substantial, long-form presentations or made into shorter, more digestible talks. Companies like Twist Biosciences have taken a more short form approach to the webinar, with a recent 25-minute presentation on the latest CRISPR screening technology. And, depending on your topic, with so many life science brands investing in webinars, a shorter format can be more welcome.

Transforming Your Trade Show Marketing with a Virtual Conference

Mourning the loss of a creative idea for your booth can be tough. Worry not: You can still build a life-sized version of your lead drug candidate out of Legos in a virtual event – without worrying about the logistics or cost.

Virtual conferences have become more popular over the past decade and provide many benefits over live conferences. In addition to reduced planning and cost needed to sponsor or plan a virtual conference, there is huge opportunity for lead generation, close engagement with current or potential customers, and the ability to reach a broader audience. These benefits make it the best alternative to and – in some cases, better than – a traditional, in-person conference.

Virtual conferences can be organized from scratch, but some crafty and incredibly quick conference organizers have been able to transition their entire event to a virtual format. Miraculously, the BIO Europe Spring conference was transitioned to a virtual conference mere weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down worldwide travel.

With impressive response times like this, consider attending one of the many virtual events out there or one that has replaced your canceled conference. Check out this recent coronavirus-focused virtual event organized by LabRoots, which includes presentations from industry experts and sponsored talks from Thermo Fisher Scientific, PacBio, Fluidigm, and more. Other vendors out there offer sponsorship opportunities that includes sponsored presentations and promotional packages. Depending on your level of participation, sponsorships can cost anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.

Alternatively, you can also sponsor and organize a virtual conference yourself. Many new virtual event platforms have become available that include virtual booths on a virtual exhibit floor, presentations, posters, chat sessions, networking events, face-to-face chats, Q&A sessions, on-demand viewing, and custom content like white papers or app notes. Custom virtual labs are even available on some platforms.

In addition, many virtual events include promotional packages like paid social media, email lists, and banner ads and newsletters to help you capture those new leads. Depending on the timing, promotion, and degree of attendee engagement, the cost of putting on a virtual conference of your own can range pretty dramatically, but on average, be prepared to look at an initial investment in the $50,000+ range.

Content & SEO Audits

Content audits are the process of going through all of your sales collateral, content marketing materials, or other supporting materials and assessing whether it still fits into your buyer’s journey or provides value for your audience.

Without the ability to go to the office or proceed with your marketing strategy as you once planned, you may finally have time to take on other marketing activities like this, which always seem to get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. Of course, with new personal and professional quarantine responsibilities, like keeping stir-crazy kids occupied or crisis communications, your list may be longer than ever. Fortunately, this project can be as small or as large as you like: You can go through all of your content related to a single product, or dive in deep and audit your whole brand to map your audiences’ current needs and identify what materials need to be refreshed, repurposed, and retired. Your brand is more important now than ever before, and auditing your content will ensure that it stays healthy, even after the pandemic is over.

A logical offshoot of your content audit is an SEO audit to address problems that may be lurking just beneath the surface, hurting your organic rankings. There are lots of simple tools for doing this, offered by SEO gurus like Moz or SEMRush. This could also be an excellent project to keep your team engaged, where they can take a break to learn something new, or think about your brand from a new perspective. All of this keeps your marketing efforts moving during this tough time.

Many of these tools are also equipped to give you additional insights to your competitors content and SEO tactics. You can analyze some of the keywords your competitors are ranking for and do a simple gap analysis, identifying topics and keywords for you to develop content around, increasing your organic visibility and accessibility.

There may be slightly fewer buyers during these chaotic times, but your audience is still online. They’re going to need instruments and consumables when they get back to work. Make yourself the brand now.

Above all else: Marketing with Empathy

It’s a strange time for everyone. Many of your customers and prospects may be struggling with lack of sleep, fatigue, and a jam-packed inbox. And that’s just if things are going well.  It also seems like every brand out there, from your auto-mechanic to a store you haven’t bought from in decades, is blowing up inboxes on how they’re responding to COVID-19. The last thing you want to do is contribute to overwhelming your audience with a hard sell.

But that doesn’t mean you need to stop everything, and marketing and communications experts will tell you not to. Using the tactics above, focus on adjusting your marketing strategy to deliver tailored content to your audience while they are actively looking for answers. Ask yourself: what do they need from us right now? What will they need later? And even if you have a product that can deliver during these times, remember that now is still the time for compassionate and empathetic marketing.

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