Virtual trade shows can serve as stand-alone events or be used in conjunction with live shows for added momentum and marketing impact. Just like a traditional trade show, a virtual event requires thoughtful planning, strong marketing and focused execution to be successful.
If you are looking to host a virtual show for the first time, click here for guidelines on successful planning and implementation. Then, review the following tips to enhance the marketing and effectiveness of your online event.Have online show visitors register. Give them an ID number to make it easy to request more information from the vendors online, rather than having to fill out forms at each virtual booth. If you are hosting a virtual show to complement a live tradeshow event, make the exhibition floor layout and booth locations match. Then, provide online maps of the show floor and link each booth on the map to the vendor’s virtual booth information. Let visitors search virtual trade shows at least three ways: company name, booth number, or type of products. Have the grand opening of your virtual trade show at least two weeks before the actual conference. Encourage each vendor to offer a “show special” that is featured on their trade show page. Offer coupons that online visitors can print and bring to the live show. As the organizer, you should plan to offer special coupons online as well. Consider a free drink coupon or a special souvenir of the conference, only available with the coupon. Provide online stations in the exhibit area so that live visitors can visit the online trade show. Provide a printer to print coupons or number the coupons so that they can bring the number to the booth for the “special” discount. Use a digital camera at the live show to take a picture of each booth. Add the photos to the vendors’ pages for after-the-show identification. Leave virtual trade shows online for at least three months after each event so that attendees can follow up. Consider a year-round show with vendors who sign up for next year’s live show participating all year long for a reduced fee. Offer a virtual booth only fee to vendors who cannot be at the live show. Price it accordingly. Include a means for vendors to create their virtual booth at your site. A full booth might include a Front Page, a Back Wall, Right and Left Sides, plus a page for specials. As an alternative, a lesser fee could provide just a Front Page with a link to their site. Open links to vendors’ company sites in a new window. That way you don’t lose the traffic. Once they close the other window your site is still in the background waiting to be seen again. The information for this article was provided by Dr. Jeanette Cates, an internet strategist who shares her news and views in OnlineSuccessNews.com. Virtual Trade Show Planning
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While virtual trade show technology has been around for a number of years, the market for virtual events saw significant growth, as the global economic downturn forced some physical shows to move online. At the same time, the preference for “green and clean” technologies made virtual events a logical, attractive choice.
In addition to virtual trade shows, a number of additional formats have gained popularity and adoption, including virtual career fairs, virtual sales meetings and virtual partner summits.
Moreoever, a number of pioneering companies are successfully implementing hybrid events that complement a physical trade show with a concurrent virtual event.
Planning and executing a virtual trade show or on-line event is not easy. While it does leverage web technologies, virtual events require the same level of attention and commitment as a physical tradeshow or event.
If you?re considering your first virtual event, keep the following points in mind: Select the right show focus and content ? Similar to a physical event, be sure to select a timely, high-demand trade show that will interest and attract your target audience. Assemble the right team ? The success of a virtual tradeshow depends on the underlying team that maps out the timeline, executes against it and provides an excellent experience to exhibitors and attendees. Leverage colleagues who have produced a virtual event before ? if none have, reach out to expert virtual event providers for assistance. Give yourselves enough lead time ? As with any large scale project, things don?t always progress at the pace you?d like.
Whether it’s deliverables from an exhibitor, graphics from the creative agency or an email list from your marketing department, insert sufficient padding into the timeline. One of the biggest dangers of virtual event execution is the rush job to get to the finish line.Leverage social networks for event promotion and awareness ? Leverage a Facebook fan page, Twitter, a LinkedIn Event posting, a YouTube channel and postings on your corporate blog.
These efforts require your time and effort, but are extremely cost efficient ? and the potential for awareness and buzz to spread via social circles is enormous.Provide adequate training to exhibitors ? Provide a sneak preview day, during which exhibitors (and only exhibitors) can login to the environment, familiarize themselves with navigation and platform features and review the structure and content in their booth. Provide adequate staffing during the event ? Be certain that staffing levels are sufficient to provide attendees with proper amounts of technical and logistical support. In virtual events, the majority of inquiries are more logistical (e.g. where do I go to attend the sessions) rather than technical. Provide on-demand access after the event concludes ? For those who were unable to attend the live event, provide on-demand access, so that visitors can view the sessions and exhibitor booth content. Schedule a post-event de-brief ? Based on your upfront goals and objectives, assemble the team after the event to review your virtual trade show results (against the goals). The key learning points will make your next virtual event even better.
This article was written by virtual tradeshow expert Dennis Shiao, Client Services Executive at InXpo. Prior to InXpo, Mr. Shiao was Director of Product Management and Webcasts at TechTarget and spent several years in information technology management overseeing large scale web and server infrastructure.
Mr. Shiao blogs at InXpo (http://inxpo.wordpress.com) and It’s All Virtual (http://allvirtual.wordpress.com).Trade Show Resources
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