With the cancellation of DCAT Week and a string of other conferences and trade shows over the past week following suit or being moved (like INTERPHEX and CPhI North America), it’s safe to assume that more are likely to follow over the coming months. Given the historic reliance the pharmaceutical and biotech supply chain has on face-to-face interactions to make contacts, nurture relationships and close deals, these cancellations will be a big blow to commercial teams across the sector.

With travel restrictions also impacting the ability to show clients and prospects around facilities, it’s clear the industry needs a back-up plan to enable some form of business as usual, at least in the interim. So what can marketing and business development teams be doing to continue lead generation efforts?

Don’t worry. All hope is not lost. In a bid to support clients with implementing a plan B, we’ve been digging through our marketing playbook and have put together a few short-term tactics, as well as some longer term initiatives that can help you to redefine your brand awareness and lead generation strategy to create opportunities…

Short for time? Why not watch or listen to our recommendations? Check out our video by founder Raman Sehgal.

Quick wins

Don’t lose out on any existing meetings

Most of you will no doubt have spent lots of time and resource scheduling meetings with both existing customers and new prospects around industry events. If these meetings are already in the diary, why lose that precious time you’ve already secured?

Consider meeting virtually with video conferencing systems or if it’s safe to travel domestically, go and see key contacts face-to-face if they’re relatively local to you (and it’s safe to do so). If in light of the event cancellations, they’re now unavailable during your original time slot, reschedule for another time. Don’t lose the momentum and opportunity. At the very least, pick up the phone.

Go digging in your existing database

When it comes to lead generation, a great place to start is looking at your existing pipeline or database. All those contacts you’ve met in the past. What’s your nurture strategy right now? How can you interact with these contacts that might have been dormant on your database for a while?

Event cancellations have given you the most valuable resource of all – time. So use the opportunity this presents to give your database or CRM some serious TLC. Breathe some life into old contacts. Reignite old flames. You never know, you might stumble across a handful of contacts that have some potential.

And if you’ve got some relevant content you’ve created recently, use your CRM and marketing automation tools to send this useful info direct to these contacts. A good opportunity to be seen as a helpful expert in your field.

Lead generation in the absence of face to face interactions

Make your website your virtual booth

When you really boil it down, the point of attending a conference or trade show is to book meetings and generate those all-important leads. Marketing teams spend huge chunks of their budgets on elaborate stands but ultimately, once the meetings are secured it’s all about communicating your services and discussing how a partnership could benefit your prospect. In the absence of events, take this opportunity to look at your current brand and website and make it your ‘virtual booth’.

By that we mean, what key messages were you going to plaster all over your booth? What was going to make your booth stand out amongst the competitor stands that were no doubt going to be just a stone’s throw away? What were your business development team going to say or do once they were in the room with your prospect?

Is your website capturing that? If the answer is no, you should be investing your time in ensuring it does. Not only should it look, feel and sound the part, it should be appearing top of the ranks in the search engines for those prospects who will be turning to Google in lieu of walking the floor looking for a supplier.

You could take this one step further and utilise really clever tools like Lead Finder and Lead Forensics to be more proactive with the people who are already visiting your website and supply your sales team with warm leads who have already engaged with your brand.

Utilising webinars

In the same principle, webinars are a great way to capture a number of prospects in one virtual environment and demonstrate your expertise. If you’ve invested time and resources in say a speaker slot at an upcoming conference or trade show, why not utilise the insights your spokesperson or subject matter expert would have shared and turn that into an interactive webinar?

There are lots of trade media publications offering webinar packages for a fraction of the cost of attending an event and they even offer lots of pre, peri and post event marketing tactics to help your lead generation efforts.

Creating targeted campaigns

Event strategies are usually centered around which markets a business is looking to penetrate. For example, attending CPhI Worldwide because doing business in Europe is a key priority, and vice versa when attending events in North America and Asia.

In the absence of the event itself, why not utilise digital tools to target these regions instead? For example, utilising LinkedIn advertising to really hone in on your target buyer and advertise not only by location, but also job title, company type and even at a specific list of companies you’d like to do business with.

Similarly, you can utilise pay-per-click advertising to bolster your organic search efforts and appear top of the search engines and target buyers in key regions. Although, we’d say to avoid doing this before your website’s in good shape!

These tactics also allow you to track performance and evaluate which messages or campaigns are working well in certain regions.

Taking advantage of personalisation

If there was ever a good time to get your account-based marketing (ABM) strategy set-up, it’s now. Taking advantage of personalisation to accompany your digital campaigns is key. By using ABM as a multi-channel, integrated, go-to-market strategy, you can align your sales and marketing initiatives and nurture a list of prospects. This can often do the groundwork for your sales team to then make contact and initiate conversation. It’s much easier to sell as a helpful welcome guest rather than a pest!

As well as ABM campaigns, think about other tactics like video for creative ways of getting in front of new prospects in the absence of being able to say hello during a conference. Be proactive and take your facility to them by developing virtual tours that showcase your facilities, capabilities and scale. No events has given you time – don’t waste it!

Content is still king

Quite often, C-level executives are busy travelling attending customer meetings or events. With this opportunity almost redundant, more time is being spent online. Use this as an opportunity to create content that really resonates with the challenges and pain points your potential clients will be going through. Better yet, couple this with some of the tactics we’ve mentioned above to ensure that anyone searching for what you do comes across your business and capabilities. When they find you, you want them to feel excited that you exist.

With less events, trade media publications will also be searching for newsworthy stories to fill the void of the event coverage they’d usually feature. So, if you’ve got any interesting facility, team or capability news to shout about, now is the time to leverage it and make some noise.

So, as the industry continues to react to world events, don’t rest on your laurels and watch your business development pipeline dry up… be proactive, maximise the time, leverage the tools you have and make use of technology to create other opportunities to engage with clients and prospects.

Rather listen to our recommendations? Check out our video by founder Raman Sehgal.