Amid the pandemic, many conferences, trade shows, sales meetings and other large events have been transformed into virtual events—including The PPAI Expo 2021. While you exhibit at a virtual trade show from the comfort of your home or office, you should approach it with the same focus and enthusiasm as you would an in-person event.
Barbara Pavesi, the senior trade show planner for Cvent, has helped manage hundreds of virtual trade shows. Her main takeaway? Virtual trade shows are still trade shows. Even though they may look different than what you are accustomed to, they are still important and valuable.
In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share five tips from Pavesi on how to make the most of exhibiting at your next virtual trade show.
Invest in your virtual booth. A perk of attending a virtual trade show is that you do not have to ship and unpack any materials at the venue. Pavesi says you should use this opportunity to carefully curate content for your booth visitors. You could create tracks for different buyer personas or schedule events at your booth, such as product demos or theme-based meet-ups. Make your virtual booth a fun and engaging online experience and be sure to post your booth events on your social media channels.
Book virtual meetings in advance. Pavesi recommends identifying your most promising leads and pre-scheduling meetings with them. It’s easy to do this via meeting-scheduling tools or promoting your meeting sign-up link on social channels. By booking meetings in advance, you can capture more leads and staff the virtual trade show more efficiently, says Pavesi.
Send the right staff to the show. Just like with in-person events, you must be strategic and thoughtful on which reps you send to virtual trade shows. While it’s always important to send sales reps with product knowledge and relationship-building skills, you should also ensure your reps have a good grasp on digital communication. They should know how to use communicate well via email and text, and they should feel comfortable using video conferencing, notes Pavesi.
Equip your reps with captivating content. If you want to get noticed at virtual events, you have to be compelling with your messaging. Pavesi suggests creating incentives for attendees to respond to your reps’ messages or gamifying the interactions with prizes. Instead of sharing the usual pleasantries, you could share fun facts or zingers that are unique to your brand and company.
Capture leads consistently. When attending a virtual trade show, you should always aim to have reps capture leads in a consistent format and that all leads flow into a centralized location, says Pavesi. Fortunately, it is typically easy to accurately collect the information you need by clicking on an attendee’s profile. You can see their name, job title and email, which is a good start.
Get post-show feedback. Remember that virtual trade shows do not end when sales reps sign off. Leads still need to be input and post-show regroups still need to happen. Pavesi suggests touching base with your sales team and getting their input on what worked well and what did not. You can use this feedback as you refine your virtual trade show playbook.
Virtual trade shows allow you and your sales team to safely connect with prospects and key business partners during the pandemic. By approaching virtual events with the same thoughtfulness and creativity as you would in-person events, you can have a productive and successful online trade show experience.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Barbara Pavesi is the senior trade show planner for Cvent. She has more than 10 years of trade show planning and event marketing experience from various industries.
Used with permission from PPAI Media https://pubs.ppai.org/pc-today/how-to-be-successful-at-virtual-trade-shows/