Today, virtual trade shows have become the norm rather than the exception because of the widespread shift toward digitalisation. In 2021, One-fifth of trade shows worldwide were organised as digital events. Furthermore, it has become essential for businesses to have a successful trade show presence to stay ahead of the competition.
It doesn’t matter what you call them—digital trade shows, online trade shows, or something else entirely—what matters is that they are an effective method for reaching new audiences, generating leads, and cultivating relationships.
So what’s the key to success in online trade shows? There isn’t a playbook for this topic; however, the primary goal is to generate leads and sales. You want to ensure your target audience knows who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.
This means having all of your materials ready, preparing your booth or space to look its best, and ensuring that your team is prepared to engage and follow up on leads. But perhaps most importantly, don’t try to do everything yourself. Utilise technology and partner with experienced professionals like Sarcon to make your virtual trade show successful.
What is a Virtual Trade show?
Virtual trade shows are online versions of events where products and services are displayed, often from a particular industry. Organisations display their products and services while providing information and branding to attract business leads.
It is an excellent space for networking and meeting new wholesale sellers and buyers, creating new leads. It is a great space to tap into new global markets. Its reduced costs, maximised reach, excellent engagement, and powerful lead generation and ordering tools make this event valuable.
While the on-ground version of the virtual trade show is a costly investment, the online or virtual version is substantially cheaper to set up and manage.
Types of Virtual Trade shows
Different types of Virtual trade shows cater to different audiences and purposes. Some of the most popular types of virtual trade shows include:
Virtual Product Launch: A virtual product launch is a digital event that unveils a new product or service to an online audience. This launch type is perfect for companies who want to create excitement and buzz around their new products or services before they are available to the general public.
Virtual Food Show: Food and beverage shows can be done as entirely virtual events, with all the displayed products easily purchasable through the various online portals within the event. It allows manufacturers, distributors, and other food industry professionals to connect with buyers and customers worldwide.
Virtual Auto Show: These virtual automobile shows combine the latest in 3D 360-degree viewscapes to give attendees an immersive look at all the various accessories and vehicles on display. This type of event is a great way for businesses to reach a broad audience of potential customers interested in purchasing new vehicles or automotive products without the expense and hassle of setting up physical exhibits.
Virtual Summit: A virtual summit is a gathering of industry leaders and experts online. These virtual iterations of the classic summit often combine features to enable advanced sessions and session-related action items for maximum engagement.
Features of a Virtual Trade Show
- Stunning 3D Designs to Wow Audiences
- Have Cross-Device Functionality
- Customisable designs and branded booths
- Live Chat Tools for Networking
- Event Announcements to Keep Attendees Informed
- Live Webinars to Engage Audiences
- E-commerce Platform to Make On-Spot Sales
- Gamification to Increase Time Spent
- Detailed Reports to Measure Event Success
- Long-term event accessibility
6 Tips For a Successful Trade Show
When it comes to exhibiting at a trade show, there are many different ways to approach it. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are some essential tips that can help make your trade show experience a success. By following these tips, you can ensure that you make the most of your time and resources and leave a lasting impression on potential customers.
Create a fantastic virtual booth
The virtual trade show booth displays must represent your company and brand best if you’re a sponsor or exhibitioner at the virtual trade show. Advanced features like HTML5 banners or GIFs can help with branding. You can also curate your selected content for download purposes.
Virtual tradeshows allow you to upload content to the platform until the day of the show or very close, ensuring you always provide current, up-to-date materials. Consider creating “tracks” for your products and personas, such as a collection of content grouped for Product 1 or Buyer Persona XYC. Create a consistent look and feel from your booth to any outbound links and content.
You want to make people keep coming back to your booth, creating a schedule of events at the booth, such as product demos, guest-speaker-hosted sessions, theme-based meetups, and happy hours.
You want to take advantage of advertisements within the platform; if this is not enough, consider promoting on social media channels.
Book meetings with leads ahead of time
Stack the deck before you arrive at the show. Many companies will share lists of attendees with sponsors like they would for an in-person trade show. Ensure you identify the most promising leads and pre-schedule meetings with them. Modern platforms like Sarcon have inbuilt meeting schedulers. Pre-booking meetings help capture more leads and close more deals, but they will allow you to staff the trade show more efficiently.
Choose the right sales rep
Just like with in-person trade shows, think about the type of show and the audience you expect. Then, select the reps with the most relevant product and persona knowledge to have meaningful and engaging conversations. Typically, you look for representatives with the most product knowledge or the best relationship-building skills. Or you would look for representatives who are personable and outgoing. While all of these qualities remain valid when staffing a virtual trade show, one quality to add to the mix is the strength of digital communication, i.e., does your rep express themself well in emails/messages, are they comfortable with video conferencing, etc. Modern platforms like Sarcon have built-in lead capture features, which tremendously help.
Prepare compelling content
As always, content is king. That’s why it’s essential to have crafted messages that cut through the clutter and prompt participants to read and engage. Consider gift incentives for attendees to respond to your reps’ messages or even gamify the interactions with prizes.
Share testimonials, statistics and more facts that are unique to your brand and company. You could take it further and create customised messages per persona since the job title should be visible to you. Be aware throughout the day during the times when attendees are most likely paying attention, in-between sessions, for example.
Centralise all lead capture
Ensure reps capture leads consistently and that all leads flow into a centralised location. Organisations attend trade shows, whether virtual or in-person, to collect leads which directly correlate to their ROI. The good news is that it’s typically easier to accurately manage all the information you need by clicking on an attendee’s profile.
You will likely find the company name, job title, and email address, at the very least. The platform’s technology will not only allow you to capture leads and qualify them in a consistent format, but if you have a CRM or marketing automation integration, your leads will flow seamlessly and automatically according to the rules you have set. Use a Virtual trade show platform like Sarcon for quick lead capture and tradeshow management.
Gather feedback from the event
As with in-person trade shows, a virtual trade show doesn’t end when reps leave the show. Leads must get to sales and marketing; a conference post-con is equally essential. Meet your team to get feedback about their performance. Ask them what they’ve heard from chatting with prospects or seeing other booths. All feedback will help you add to your virtual trade show playbook.
Virtual trade shows might be a new concept for event participants, but needless to say, the environment is much better than people’s image. With powerful event platform tools at your fingertips, offerings like Sarcon help make such event ideas into a seamless and easy-going experience regardless of whos using it.