The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as a global pandemic. The disease is spreading fast globally, crossing international borders, and infecting people at an exponential pace. Governments are taking quick emergency procedures and preventive measures such as forceful travel and trade restrictions in order to protect the greater public.
Many industries have already felt its impact – the global technology industry saw cancelled conferences from big events like Facebook’s F8, E3 gaming show, and Google I/O.
Financial markets have taken a hit as investors are growing cautious about the possible impact of coronavirus. The global economy is rattled and could take a loss of about $2.7 trillion. Companies are closing stores, offices, and factories to comply with health protocols and local restrictions.
According to industry groups, the travel sector is likely to take a loss of about $820 billion as tourists cancel business trips, and airlines cut flights. The cost of business for manufacturing and construction industries is expected to rise as well, as disruptions in supply-chain continue, with supplies delayed and deliveries slow.
The coronavirus also wreaked havoc in the materials industry, as trade fairs have been cancelled or postponed all over the world. According to the estimates of UFI (The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry) written to the European Commission, more than 500 trade shows have gone dark in recent weeks, amounting up to $26 billion of lost orders for exhibitors.
One of the first major trade events to be affected was the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s largest trade show for the mobile phone industry. The ConExpo 2020, a big event for North American construction companies happening every three years, also closed one day early amid coronavirus concerns.
Other cancelled or postponed trade shows in the material industry include the Hannover Messe 2020 in Germany, MACH 2020 in the UK, and JEC World 2020 in France, an international event focused on the composite materials industry.
It’s all about connections
In the materials industry, trade shows are a major part of businesses’ calendars. They offer a place for companies and their customers to gather, talk about new products and innovations, and close a few deals.
But attending them can be costly – you have to pay an upfront fee for the booth space along with transportation and travel costs, additional show services, and promotional items. The total expenditure depends on the size and makeup of the booth, but the average cost lies between $100 and $150 per square foot.
Exhibitors, however, are usually willing to pay the price in the hope of making connections with new clients and building on relationships with existing customers. But now the devastating effect of the coronavirus has put this in jeopardy.
As more and more events are cancelled or postponed, trade show personnel are expected to be out of work soon. Companies are hoping to avoid layoffs, and the cancellation of trade events has damaging ripple effects across the airline, hotel, marketing, entertainment, and restaurant industries, among many others.
Postponing or rescheduling events take a financial toll on organisers and industries as money is spent on venues, marketing, food, flight bookings, and other services. Organisers may not be able to book the same space for another desired date, not to mention the additional man-hours required in planning.
The impact on the suppliers and attendees is significant, especially when booth owners choose not to attend due to health concerns and travel restrictions. Booth deposits, the cost of travel arrangements, and event registration may or may not be refunded, depending on the policies of the trade show.
And perhaps the main drawback of a cancelled trade show is the missed or lost opportunity of striking a deal or making new connections. The value of a face-to-face encounter cannot be underestimated when it comes to closing business agreements.
Online solutions for materials suppliers
The effect of trade show cancellations really highlights the importance of having a diverse marketing and sales strategy. If your main marketing channel is cut off, does that mean you simply lose the opportunity to win new business? It shouldn’t.
While the experience of meeting people and interacting with products in person cannot be replicated online, having digital as part of your strategy should be a no-brainer. There are many ways to reach customers online, and even trade shows are now taking their exhibitions digital. What’s more, online communication tends to be quicker and more efficient than in face-to-face meetings.
Last year we wrote a blog highlighting six reasons metal suppliers need digital in their marketing strategy, where we explained the value of digital marketing. There are many different channels you can try when it comes to digital, and Matmatch is one of them. It is a platform where engineers and product designers can find and evaluate materials, and connect directly with suppliers.
Last year, more than 1.6m engineers and product developers used Matmatch to find materials for their projects and contact suppliers. Matmatch users come from a wide range of industries – automotive, aerospace, oil and gas, energy, medical, consumer goods, machinery and tooling, electronics and electrical, and transportation to name just a few.
By listing materials on Matmatch, suppliers have a unique chance to reach a qualified global audience of potential customers. Engineers interested in your solutions can also easily get in touch with you directly from the platform.
Suppliers, it’s time to act
We are on the cusp of a new era, where we will have to redefine our way of business, and connecting online is now more vital than ever.
In these trying times, do not let adversities like the coronavirus slow down or even shut down your business. Go digital, suppliers. Join Matmatch now.
Below is a quick video that showcases an example of supplier profile, materials datasheets and the request form that engineers can send to suppliers.