Change is a constant in our world. One day you’re minding your own business planning your tradeshow or annual meeting, and the next day you’re dealing with a worldwide pandemic. As some communities in the United States begin to hold events and gatherings, you may be feeling the pressure to plan for your next trade show or annual meeting. After all, attending or hosting a conference is one of the most common ways to share marketing strategies and discuss business challenges, right

You could begin making plans to attend or sponsor a safe(ish), COVID-19 compliant conference, but that would require budgeting a significant sum of money to implement adequate safety precautions. Then, you would have to spend time including force majeure clauses in your contracts until you’re blue in the face. And let’s not forget about insurance— you’ll need to protect attendees and your company in case something happens. To add to the magic, you may need to schedule frequent cleaning breaks between sessions, thus losing valuable presentation time. Last but certainly not least, your bread and butter, the pièce de résistance: the exhibit floor. Get ready to extend your exhibit floor hours and take on the role of hall monitor/bouncer for all your attendees. Cakewalk, right? Wrong.

There are far better ways to use your conference funds and still provide valuable knowledge to your constituents. Your audience is hungry for valuable information that will improve their business prospects—and today, there are many ways to deliver what they want. One of the best is to deliver highly relevant, practical research that will add value to their business. In this current digital age, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and be innovative. 

Here are some ideas to consider that you could achieve alone or with a research partner.

Publish a new, custom research study. It will provide you instant credibility and gives you a forum to showcase your subject-matter expertise and reach new markets. 

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Co-promote a webinar and other related activities with the research firm and/or other partners. Because each partner has its own mailing list, you can get much higher registration and attendance levels. 

Create original content once, repurpose many times. Creating original content all the time can be demanding and frustrating. You may have subject matter experts on staff, but getting them to produce content (blogs, webinars, etc.) on a consistent schedule can be a challenge. When you use original research as content, however, you can turn its component parts into webinars, blog posts, videos, social media, PDF downloads, PR outreach, and more. We have had clients use a single piece of original research in campaigns that spanned several quarters. 

License a research study. Some research firms license their studies to companies like yours. This is a way for you to access and promote original research without waiting months to produce your own. For example, if you were trying to reach the accounting and financial services industry, you could license existing research targeting that industry. Licensed research can be far less expensive than original research, so getting budget approval may happen faster, as well.

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Finding the right research partner (such as our own Hinge Research Institute) will help position you as a thought leader to your broader audiences. And rather than put your audience’s safety at risk during these challenging times, you can use the power of science and data to turn heads and build credibility. These methods will help you pick up the pieces, set your firm’s trajectory and move ahead with confidence.

Rachna Raniga