Published: March 19, 2021
Historically, trade shows are the second largest source of B2B revenue in the U.S. In early 2020, the value of the U.S. trade show market was predicted to reach $16.4 billion, up from $15.58 billion in 2019. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the real number declined sharply to $5.6 billion in 2020, with positive estimates of a rebound to $14.5 billion by 2024.
With the pandemic, trade show marketers needed to adapt quickly to keep their communities alive. They replaced canceled in-person events with online events like webinars and virtual trade shows. In fact, the number of full virtual trade shows increased from 15% to 41% during this time.
Studies show that 99% of marketers find unique value from going to trade shows, whether in-person or online. Almost half agree that meeting competitors, suppliers, and resellers helps expand connections and industry know-how.
That’s why companies want their online events to be as engaging and informative as their in-person events. Marketers and show organizers have added interactive features, pre-recorded video, chats, and livestreaming to keep audiences interested.
Virtual format events are a different experience, for sure, but they are going to be around for the foreseeable future. An online event can be a highly effective prospecting and marketing tool once you adapt to the new virtual setting.
Check out these tips for presenting, exhibiting and walking the online floor of a virtual trade show or conference.
List Things You Want To Learn in Advance - Have defined goals for attending a trade show. Before arriving, write down a list of two to three key takeaways you want to get out of it for a return on your investment.
Make Appointments Ahead of Time - Just as you would for an in-person trade show, review the list of attendees and know who’s there. Then make appointments with your prospects ahead of time, to live chat, talk on the phone, meet virtually or in person.
Avoid Day-Of Tech Issues - Get familiar with the virtual platform of the trade show before it begins and be prepared for slowdowns or connectivity issues. Seek out technical support if you need help.
Build a Virtual Trade Show Booth - Virtual booths are built on a website page and are composed of video, images and other content. The booth can be “staffed” with virtual assistants in chat rooms, which can even host webinars. Personalized videos made for the event can humanize the experience and guide people to the most important content.
Try Out a Matchmaking Feature - Interest-based matchmaking recommends potential networking opportunities for trade show and conference attendees. Brella and other engagement platforms for virtual events provide the tools for people to connect virtually, even one-on-one. Create a profile and publicize it to other attendees.
Educate Attendees About You - Digital platforms for virtual trade shows are rapidly transforming to allow for the networking and dialogue you’d experience at face-to-face events. Share background information on your trade show profile.
Tell people why you are different. Post a unique case study that compels people to ask more about what you do and your approach. Generate leads and create brand exposure for your company by giving a presentation at virtual conferences.
Follow Up After the Show - Whether virtual or otherwise, always connect after the show with new contacts and tag them in the future with relevant content. Setting aside two to four hours immediately after the event to follow up with prospects is absolutely mission critical.
Trade show marketers are optimistic about what the future will bring to the industry. Many are certain that a hybrid approach to trade shows could elevate the industry by developing the benefits of in-person meetings with the advantages of virtual events. Virtual trade shows offer several other long-term benefits such as accessibility, cost-effectiveness, customizability, flexibility and ease of measuring results.
In fact, EOS Worldwide® is encouraging people to “choose their experience,” attending in-person (in Houston) or virtually for their upcoming 2021 EOS® Conference April 29-30 with pre conference events kicking off on the 28th, in-person only. Those who register will get access to the presentations and content for 30 days. Ninety will be there! When you register, tell them Ninety sent you, and be sure to visit us at the booth!
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