3 ways you can effectively connect with new clients when your trade show is cancelled

Not too long ago, you were ready to hit the road and attend 2020 trade shows, events and conferences that, in the past, reliably connected you to new clients. The challenge is: those events are all cancelled or postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

That undoubtedly leaves your promo swag sitting in storage and your sales team eagerly waiting to get back to routine. Is your promotional products order really going to be a lost investment? We’re absolutely positive that it won’t! In fact, social distancing is an opportunity to think outside the box and connect with key prospects on a completely new level that is guaranteed to be deeper and more genuine. 

Here we will share 3 alternatives to traditional in-person events and give you tips on how to use promotional products in a strategic way while remaining safe and practicing social distancing.

3 effective Trade Show Alternatives


Focus on key prospects instead of the masses. Executive Door Opener (EDO) campaigns help you reach key decision makers you might not be able to connect with during a conventional conference or trade show.

What exactly is an EDO?

An Executive Door Opener campaign uses promotional products in a strategic, multi-step way to target a select number of ideal clients; surprise, delight and tease them so that they want to know more about your business. By the end of your EDO campaign, you’ll be able to call warmed-up prospects who are ready to listen to your offers.

The best part of these programs is that you can hit a better response rate than with traditional, mass-marketing efforts. In fact, the EDO campaigns we’ve run have yielded an average of a 33% response rate which is considerably higher than the direct mail 2% standard in the industry. 

Our most profitable ROI we’ve seen on an investment in the entry level EDO program was a return of $1.4 million in sales, targeting just 12 prospects!

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Our most profitable ROI we’ve seen on an investment in the entry level EDO program was a return of $1.4 million in sales, targeting just 12 prospects!

2 - Organizing Virtual Events

Utilize the internet and hold online events instead of in-person ones. Online events might include webinars, digital conferences, masterminds and Q&As. Make sure to use your website, social media and newsletter to spread the word and ask people to sign up.

This option is great for businesses who already have a successful online presence and mastered technology. For them, this Forbes article can provide an inspiration for the next steps.


You don’t always need to run after new connections. You can revisit your connections from previous events. Are there any businesses on your list who you want to work with again because your past projects were mutually fruitful? Go through your leads and evaluate if there’s an underlying opportunity you haven’t noticed yet.

You can utilize Executive Door Opener programs in this case too! They help you warm up these past connections or level up engagement around a new offer you are rolling out. Through an EDO campaign you can easily warm up those past connections with a targeted, strategic touch point…. and we will do 90% of the work for you!


Through an EDO campaign you can easily warm up those past connections with a targeted, strategic touch point.... and we will do 90% of the work for you!

What to do with unused promotional products?

Here are 4 ways to make use of promotional products you have already ordered if you’re planned event has been cancelled or postponed:

  1. Include them in your EDO campaign.
    Our creative team can help you figure out clever ways to base Executive Door Opener campaigns on promotional products you have already received.

  2. Use them for employee engagement programs.
    Many of your employees are working from home, which is often difficult. People miss the daily connection with their colleagues and their daily routines. You can boost engagement by gifting products as a symbol of connection and unity. For example, our team often joins Zoom calls in the same Sigma sweater or use the same journals.

  3. Use them for employee appreciation.
    Are you an essential business? Then chances are your employees are working incredibly hard to serve others. Now is a great time to reward their heroic work. You can include your promotional products in employee appreciation programs to show your gratitude for their efforts.

  4. Use them to raise funds for other businesses.
    You can show your generosity and raise brand awareness by running a fundraiser program based on your promotional products. Sell your swag to fans and offer parts of the profit to fellow businesses who could use your support.

The most important takeaway to remember is that even when you seemingly run into obstacles, there is always another way to move forward.

Focus on what you can do, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need our strategic services. We can help you bring out the best of this current situation!

Authors of this post:
Andrea Szabo
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