The bustling in-person trade show stand has gone for the moment. But in the virtual space, there are major opportunities for exhibitors to do business. The usual benefits of revenue generation, accelerated sales pipelines, and increased outreach are still available.
But to make the most of the opportunities, there are a few considerations to be aware of.
The same principles apply
Exhibiting at a virtual event is a serious investment of time, money and other resources. Do not be fooled into thinking that you do not need to put a lot of effort in. To be successful you need to give virtual exhibiting as much consideration as you would when exhibiting at an in-person event. You need to be clear on your reasons for exhibiting at the event, what you want to achieve and what your ROI measures will be.
If attendees walk a trade show floor and find that the exhibitor they wanted to see is not at their booth, they could easily become disappointed and maybe a little annoyed. After all, they have made the effort to find you and you couldn’t be found.
And the same applies in the virtual world. As an exhibitor, you need to be available ready to answer questions or have a deeper discussion with buyers. How they will connect with you? It could be text chat, it could be a 1:1 video call or it could be something else. The event producer will let you know. Understand the tech and then be available. It is really that simple.
You can offer virtual specials if you want. In the same way that in-person exhibitors offer special discounts for people that agree to buy at the exhibition, you can do the same. There is nothing to stop you. And, hopefully, you are doing this.
The virtual event producer may be putting together a ‘virtual treasure hunt’ or a loyalty programme of some description. Find out what their plans are and see if you can take part. Attendees always like offers. The question is, what can you offer that will benefit your buyers?
Virtual attendees are smart. In-person attendees are smart. And as an exhibitor you are smart. The smart exhibitor understands that the key difference between an in-person attendee and a virtual attendee is simply one of access to information.
The in-person attendee is unlikely to be checking out your website as you talk to them. That would be strange. But, in the virtual space that is exactly what can happen. The virtual attendee simply opens a new window on their device as they listen to you. And, because of that, you need to be demonstrating something new or different. Otherwise, they might as well just look at your website and not even bother making an appointment. It’s your job to maximise that appointment. And that should be relatively easy as you have only one person to talk to. No interruptions from anyone else, which is another difference to speaking to people on the trade show floor.
Get involved in sessions
Another way of boosting your presence at a virtual event is to be involved in the content. Is there an opportunity for you to make a presentation on a relevant topic? Or could you chair a panel discussion or be a panel member? As long as you do not try to give sales pitches within content sessions, planners will welcome your input. Demonstrate that you are an authority in your field and it’s likely that more attendees will follow up and come and visit you at your virtual stand. It’s the same principle as with in-person events. What content value can you bring to the exhibition?
Mine the data
When you have been provided with the event analytics, make the most of the data. Don’t just scratch the surface and look at the highlights but delve deeper and mine the data. What is it telling you? What can you learn from it? What trends and patterns appear? How can you use this for new product development and how you will approach your next virtual exhibiting opportunity?
There really is gold in data. In addition to the data, find out from your team how the virtual experience was for them. You will discover new insights and ideas that you can put in place for your next exhibiting opportunity. Virtual events are here to stay, not just for now but for the future and long after the Covid virus has a vaccine.
Enjoy the virtual world. It opens up opportunities that are not confined to a physical space. It really is a world of opportunity that will help grow your business.
Paul Cook moderated a panel on The Future of Venues at IBTM World Virtual in 2021 as part of our IBTM TV content stream.
It will be going live on our YouTube channel on 28 February. See the full schedule here.