True confession – I love math, especially algebra. Maybe the sight of 8(x-4) + 24 = 72 gives you PTSD, but it gives me comfort knowing that there is always one correct, logical answer. It has always been necessary to plan for unknown variables in the live event space. What if the sound system goes out? Is there a backup computer? What if property gets damaged during shipment?  There was always a Plan B. With COVID, the number of unknown variables has increased exponentially, and suddenly Plan B has become Plan X, Y or Z where there is no longer a correct, or sometimes even a logical answer. As event professionals, how do we solve for the unknown, when isolating a variable is not an option?

Uncertainty Requires a Strong Digital Marketing Plan

It is vital to increase multi-channel marketing efforts. A digital presence is becoming increasingly necessary, both as a way to promote brands and to protect investments.  In short, brand presence must live outside of the physical space to increase visibility and awareness. Just showing up is not a viable option when events carry new restrictions or are being shortened or canceled.

  1. Hybrid and/or Virtual Events

We have been hearing that hybrid events are going to be the future of the industry. They certainly are a great way to reach more people than an in-person event ever could. You’re still catering to the people physically present, but also including participants from around the globe. If not a true hybrid event, offering a virtual component alongside your in-person event will ensure that the show will go on even if the live event doesn’t. On Demand content is increasingly valuable for extending the conversation past the event and allowing non-participants access to important product and educational content way into the future. And of course, the data collected from these virtual options can be used to cultivate leads and calculate ROI.

Educational virtual event

  1. Digital Promotion

Through effective digital promotion, the attendee experience begins long before the event happens and continues long afterward. Savvy event marketers grab attendees’ attention and create intrigue with campaigns that inspire action. Using mobile ads with location targeting, email, and sponsored posts on social platforms, to name a few, brands attract the right audience creating a perception that they are tech-forward and demonstrating they care about their customers.

Mobile Marketing

Pro tip:

  1. Chatbots

If your in-person event does take place, Chatbots, considered an Artificial Intelligence tool, can give the event goer a positive experience that leaves them feeling connected to the brand. The key word being connected. Chatbots have been around for a while but are now a hot trend and gaining in popularity. Chatbots work as a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users. The more we can learn about the individual, the more we can hyper personalize each attendee’s experience enabling them to consume event content in a way that is uniquely tailored to their interests. Basically, Chatbots offer a more interactive form of engagement that help exhibitors reach their goals. Building brand awareness, enhancing the booth experience, and capturing leads are just of few objectives that can be realized with the clever use of Chatbots.



With all these tools in place, even if an event changes, is postponed or canceled, event professionals can be proactive in their response, add additional brand touchpoints, and keep a favorable brand perception. As a bonus, if the show goes on, a strong digital presence allows participants and non-participants alike to share in your amazing event.

Of course, if the in-person event does move forward and the sound system goes out, there’s always Plan B.

Christina Piedlow, TPG President & CEO

TPG Trade Show + Event Marketing is a boutique experiential marketing agency specializing in providing brands with an integrating marketing strategy. We have 30 years of experience planning live, virtual, and hybrid events. We’ll help you get it done!