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Goodbye trade shows, hello remote work

Mar 18, 2020 7:08:21 AM

Across the nation, COVID-19 has postponed land development events, municipality conversations and project timelines. And as many across the country have noted, this massive shift to conducting business virtually will put our technology to the test. 

Cities like Los Angeles, CA and Austin, TX, code revisions and land development conversations have been postponed. Local government bodies are urging land development professionals to use online services for building, zoning and trade permitting instead of in-person transactions. 

How to plan around cancelled trade shows

Land development companies still rely heavily on in-person events to drive awareness, connect with people face-to-face, drive sales and manage existing vendor or client relationships. Many industry events and conferences have all been postponed due to the Coronavirus threat, following the CDC recommendation to postpone or cancel all gatherings with more than 50 people. 

Rescheduled events

Canceled events

If you were depending on these events for your company, this is an unexpected shock. So how can we adapt, and where do we go from here? 

Should you ask for your money back? 

Of course, this all depends on if you can even ask for your money back. Or, should you plan for the new conference date? Policies will vary by organization, and the decision is ultimately up to you. 

As the impact of conferences might change based on what we learn this year, don’t commit to a future event if you have the option to get your money back. Try out new things that might work and bank the cash. You may find that you don’t want to invest in these events in the future, or that later this year isn’t the right time. Some organizations might offer refunds even if the event is still happening -- the CityMobility 2020 conference is now offering refunds, while not cancelled. Jessie Feller Hahn, Executive Director of Meeting of the Minds, said:

“We’re changing our refund policy for the CityMobility 2020 Summit, which will continue as scheduled. Tickets are now refundable all the way up until the day of the event, May 20.” 

It’s unlikely that these new venues and events will have the same venue locations, efficiency, convenience and cost within the next few years. Capacity at the best venues is limited, and these are typically planned at least a year in advance. This means that even if many trade shows are rescheduled, you cannot rely on these events to the same extent as you have in the past. 

Even if you go, many others might return their tickets and skip it altogether, so it’s not a good idea to envision the same level of success or impact on your business from rescheduled events. 

How to make the most out of remote work

While scary and unfamiliar to some, others can maximize productivity while working remotely. Can you find new opportunities that can provide new levels of ROI? Now that the next 2 months of land development community have been postponed, use these 10 tips to stay on track with your business goals:

  1. Communicate often - When you’re not face-to-face, communication is key. Keep communication with your coworkers, contractors and staff open and be proactive about communicating -- it’s much better to your over communicate than under communicate. Make sure nothing slips through the cracks, and everything will go on as it normally does. If you don’t already, consider using Slack for messaging and Zoom for meetings and video conferences that make communication easy. 
  2. Implement the right tools - Now more than ever, cloud-based solutions are proving to be a necessity. Because they’re accessible anywhere, by any of your employees, at any time, these digital tools will set your team up for success. Project management tools like Trello and Asana help organize workflows, projects and tasks, so you can keep people on schedule and see what others are doing. This holds people accountable for their tasks, and you can see directly into everyone’s progress. Still, other land development tools for GIS and zoning are necessary for remote work and removes barriers to work by providing access to the tools your employees need when working from home. Setting up the right technology infrastructure in place makes this transition into remote work easier and more successful for you, your client and teams. 
  3. Find deals - you can sponsor online events, webinars and discussions with your ideal audience or customers and find great partnerships or sponsorships that weren’t available before. 
  4. Increase reach - online events may reach a larger part of your target audience, and at a lower cost. Sponsoring an online event could get you a new type of exposure and reach new audiences. 
  5. Interview your customers - catch up with your past and current clients, and check on how they’re doing. Seek new ways to add value as they’re also experiencing these challenging times. Listen to what they’re saying and try to identify ways to grow from their feedback and customer experience. If you can’t sell something new, this investment will pay in increased customer retention, loyalty and might even generate new customers down the road. 
  6. Follow-up and retarget - what happened to the leads from the last trade show or event you went to? Invest time in these leads now that you have more time on your hands, and nurture those contacts with email and other media. Reconnect since they have now canceled their trip to the trade show, and ask to set up a zoom meeting or phone call to talk. 
  7. Take your sponsorship digital - can you repurpose your event budget to invest in other paid channels? You can use Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, email campaigns and other paid marketing tools to experiment and test how they help your client relationships, generate new customers and connect with people interested in your services. 
  8. Organize a virtual trade show - if you were leading a keynote or breakout session, take your plans and content into a virtual environment through a webinar or video for your website. You can also turn the demo in your booth into a self-service online demo or use a voice-over to guide your prospects through your project. 
  9. Rethink your swag - now that you don’t need to buy T-shirts to give away at your booth, can you come up with a more interesting “giveaway” that helps your digital customer journey? What tools can you develop that provide value to your prospects as they evaluate and consider their options? 
  10. Work on projects long overdue - now that you have more time (and $$) on your hands, it’s a perfect opportunity to finish all of those projects on the back burner, clean up your inbox and finally call back that one contact you’ve been pushing back. Turn lemons into lemonade and stay productive. 

Keep calm and carry on

If anything, the current COVID-19 crisis challenges every industry and vertical. We must rethink the way we work, and trust the tools we use. Everyone is trying to keep on carrying on, so just focus on your work and stay productive!

About PermitDocs

PermitDocs is your all-in-one source for land development information – we don’t just supply the municipality codes at a click, we also provide all of the zoning and building codes relevant for your projects. 

You can share, communicate and collaborate over all of this land information – bringing the boots and the suits together so that your team can communicate in real-time, reduce risk while planning and building, and feel confident that you’re making well-informed decisions with reliable information. 

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