Cinderella You Will Go To The Ball

Simon Quarendon| March 23, 2020

Among many other things, China manufacturers most of the world’s wedding dresses. So the country’s draconian self-isolation will soon lead to a global shortage.  Meaning wedding dresses will fail to arrive in shops or be available from online retailers.

Will that mean that disappointed brides around the world will have to cancel their weddings? Not a bit of it. They’ll no doubt bite their lip and then make alternative arrangements. A dress making relative may step forward or a local wedding dress maker may be found. So the big day will go ahead and they will look a million dollars.

Will sales teams adopt the same attitude, I wonder, when the supply of leads that are normally provided by their marketing department, dry up? Because let’s be clear, there is a clear case of supply chain disruption going on here that could offer real opportunities for the nimble – and probably digital – marketer. Let’s consider the facts.

According to research conducted in 2018 by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, “B2B marketers who participate in industry events allocated nearly 40 percent of their budgets to exhibitions and industry shows, almost five times more than the 8% spent on online marketing”.

Meanwhile, research from Demand Gen Report shows that in-person events are crucial to many B2B companies’ business: “More than half of US B2B marketers said that in-person events and trade shows were an effective channel for driving conversions”.

So for many B2B companies the supply chain worked perfectly. The marketing team organised the events and then handed over lots of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to the sales teams. The sales teams then went to work qualifying those MQLs and doing what they could to push them through the sales funnel. In fact, just a few weeks ago, at 2020 sales kick-0ff meetings held up and down the country, sales and marketing teams were probably celebrating how sweetly this particular supply chain worked.

Except it just got broken.

Informa, one of the biggest trade show organisers has already cancelled over 100 events  (taking a £430m revenue hit in the process). That’s 12% of the 800 events they organise annually in the finance, biotech, pharma, shipping and security sectors. Add to Informa’s woes the myriad of smaller event organisers plus those arranged in-house by companies themselves and its clear that a major hole has opened up in the lead gen supply chain.

Will this lead to the equivalent of a cancelled wedding? I doubt it. Like those resolute brides, sales teams will not be denied the equivalent of their big day and we are already seeing opportunistic alternative suppliers rushing in to fill that hole. Heading that list is digital marketing but I sense there could be a role here for more old fashioned lead gen activities; like direct mail, or getting on the phone.  

In fact I’d say opportunities abound here. That so many events are being cancelled is tragic. (Especially as the industry is renowned for having a large and extended supply chain of its own, many of whom are self employed). But sales teams need leads and it remains the responsibility of the marketing team (amongst other things) to procure them. That will mean casting around for the equivalent of gifted relatives or local craftsmen. Will it be hard work? Undoubtedly. But just as Cinderella did go to the ball, so those sales teams will get their leads.


Simon Quarendon
Simon Quarendon

Simon has over 30 years track record in agency including; founding, building, buying and selling. He has run global accounts for top-tier multi-national agencies and advised clients drawn from all areas: from national governments and Blue Chips to SMEs and NGOs.

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