Hussmann is a manufacturer of display merchandisers and commercial refrigerations systems based out of the US and – like many B2B companies – relies heavily on in-person events to achieve that holy trifecta of corporate marketing – build awareness, educate its customers and fill its pipeline. So to say the pandemic was a spanner is a bit of an understatement.
Instead of copying the crowd and move it’s entire event strategy online (something I think we can all agree can be a little hit-and-miss), Hussmann created the ‘Shop the Future’ mobile experience, a 700-square-foot expandable trailer that visited 40 locations across the U.S in 12 weeks
It allowed the company to give its customers a more intimate demonstration of its products than they’d get at a conventional tradeshow. It also capitalised on the thirst of buyers to actually get in front of their vendors after months of doing business virtually.
I’m not a betting man (OK, I am and that’s why I don’t go to casinos), but I’d wager we are at least 6 months away from in-person exhibitions coming back in any meaningful way. This presents a conundrum for companies that have traditionally relied on this channel to fill their pipeline.
One of the responses to this is to go hard on digital. For instance, since COVID began, nearly 40% of B2B tech marketers reallocated their 2020 face-to-face budget to digital channels instead. And I believe this is here to stick. Post-pandemic, I struggle to see how brands will wish to spend six-digit-sums on hiring trade show booths with questionable ROI when they’ve seen what a fraction of that sum can do online.
However, it’s important to not underestimate the power of in-person meetings and the value of human connection. There is a huge opportunity today – and increasingly in the future – for B2B brands that can develop experiential, immersive campaigns that provide sensory, cognitive and emotional values to their customers.