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Ideas in Motion

How Your Company Can Stand Out at a Virtual Tradeshow

In our last article, we outlined the benefits of exhibiting at a virtual trade show. But how can you ensure your company stands out among the rest?

Trade shows are one of the biggest sources of B2B income in the United States. Companies that attend trade shows are often motivated, already interested in the goods or services being exhibited, and are often ready to take out their checkbook once the right product comes along.

In-person trade shows are competitive enough, but a virtual booth offers a unique set of challenges. If you have booked yourself a booth at a virtual trade show soon, keep reading. With the right strategies before, during, and after the show, you'll stand the best chance of securing motivated leads for your company.

Before the show

Start the hype machine.

Some virtual trade show organizers may share the pre-show attendant list in advance. If contact details are shared, you're able to let potential customers know about your company before they even set foot into the virtual conference hall. You should also post on your social media profiles to create excitement about the fair.

 Trade shows also offer opportunities of sponsorship, earning you a place for your company name/logo on outgoing items promoting the show resulting in additional brand recognition.

 Do your own outgoing promotion to your company contacts, making them aware of the show, inviting them to attend, and to visit your virtual booth.

Choose digitally savvy reps.

In August, the engineering company Left Coast Engineering ran a booth at a virtual trade fair. Writing about the experience in the local newspaper, CEO Anita Baranowski explained how important it was for her representatives to stay alert at the laptop:

"Unlike on a trade show floor where you could see people coming, you have no idea what the "foot traffic" looks like in a virtual expo. So you literally have to always be ready."

Anita also noted the potential awkwardness your representatives might feel when striking up a conversation with strangers via video chat:

"Sometimes, when people show up they might not use their camera or have their name up, adding to initial anonymity. Now you are talking to a blank screen or maybe a still photo if you are lucky."

When deciding on the right people to represent your business at trade shows, the standard tactic is to choose those with the most product expertise or those who are most personable and outgoing. While all of these attributes remain relevant when hosting a virtual trade show, the above story reinforces the need to recruit digitally savvy representatives who are comfortable on camera and know how to build rapport via video chat.

Set up your virtual booth for success

Use the power of visuals. Get to grips with the virtual fair platform you are using and if they are available, take advantage of advanced features, such as HTML5 banners or GIFs.

Consider a custom background video. You can conduct video introductions without any unwanted disruptions when adding a background. Think of it as an opportunity to further your personal or business brand and add a layer of professionalism.

Every platform will offer different opportunities to tell your story, use everything they allow, in-booth videos, white papers, brochures, press releases, and images.

Prior to the show you may be allowed to start connecting with attendees. Filter the list for best fit and connect with those companies, setting up times to meet during the virtual show. A softer approach is to simply invite them to visit the booth learning about your products and services.

During the event

Make your videos downloadable: If your company exports globally, this is especially relevant. Allowing your video content to be downloaded or accessed on-demand ensures that participants across the world can view and interact with your content when it is most convenient for them. 

Gamify some of your events: Gamification uses game-like elements and competition outside of a traditional video game or sports environment. You might consider virtual scavenger hunts, quizzes, and live surveys as part of your line up of events. Gamification can increase audience interaction (both with your company and among attendees) and help solidify your company's name in the minds of potential clients/customers.  

Continue to monitor the list of attendees as people will join throughout the event; invite them to your booth and to set a meeting if interested. The goal is to educate attendees so that when a specific need arises they remember your name.

After the event

Now that you've secured the contact details of potential leads, make sure you use them! Send a round of emails thanking visitors for stopping by your booth, reminding them of the products and services you provide.

One of the main elements for business growth is access to a steady stream of sales leads, and trade fairs can be a great way of securing multiple warm leads in a short period. By creating new ways of remote audience interaction, offering unique value to those attending the event, and building a social media community around the fair, your company will be able to maximize its leads at any virtual fair you decide to set up shop.

The contacts will include all those you connected with and anyone who landed at your booth to view your information.