Ideas in Motion

Trade Shows Are Going Virtual This Year. Here's Why You Should Join Them

Nov 11, 2020 7:00:00 AM

Whether it is CES or AAPEX, setting up a booth at a trade fair has long been a great way to advertise to a target market and create awareness about your company. But as in-person meetings become untenable amid this pandemic, the physical activities we know and look forward to are shifting online for the near future.

Although there will be no lanyards, cocktail hours, or company-branded freebies, that doesn't mean your marketing efforts are canceled too. Companies are now increasingly setting up their stalls at virtual trade shows.

What is a virtual trade show?

A virtual trade show or virtual fair is where exhibitors and visitors meet and interact in an online environment. Digital trade fairs are seen as the online equivalent to conventional trade fairs, however unlike their physical counterparts, not constrained by their location. Indeed, visitors can -- and do -- attend from anywhere in the world; All they need is a computer or mobile device with a good internet connection.

Features available for exhibitors within virtual trade fairs

Several interactive services help the exhibitor connect to their potential customers, such as live chatting, chat rooms, Q&A sessions, webinars, webcasts, and more.

Many platforms facilitate virtual trade shows, all offering a unique take on the experience. The virtual events platform 6Connex, for example, allows attendees to "walk" through the floor of the showroom and display booths the same way they would move around a video game. The video-streaming platform INXPO allows exhibitors to incorporate keynote speakers and breakout sessions as part of their virtual event.

Why you should consider exhibiting at a virtual trade show.

Virtual trade shows have evolved to leverage each new development within Internet technology, and today they are commonly accepted as a viable marketing tool in their own right.

Here are just a few advantages of online trade shows that you may not have considered:

  • A virtual event lowers the barrier for entry. You can now extend your reach to consumers around the world.
  • You have access to a treasure trove of customer data. Many platforms offer essential data on attendees, including who joined, which booths they visited, and which documents they downloaded. Such data can be invaluable for optimizing your future marketing campaigns.
  • The format is especially beneficial for those who communicate better online. Studies show that 30% of attendees are more likely to talk to a person at a booth when engaging online, so a virtual trade show might provide even more interactions with potential buyers than an in-person event.

How to make your virtual booth stand out from the competition.

Exhibiting at an online trade show is no easy feat. You'll need as much attention to detail as you would planning an in-person event, including :careful event preparation, customer research, and a clear follow-up strategy.

There are a few more areas to consider for the online realm if you're looking for an edge over your competitors.

Find ways of engaging your potential customers with your company, and among themselves.

With virtual events, people aren't in the same physical space, so you need to create opportunities and circumstances that allow people to connect, swap stories, and network.

Here are a few examples of how you can do so: 

  • Turning on audience chat during livestreams.
  • Hosting live Q&As and allowing users to upvote questions.
  • Using a combination of media to engage your audience and make your content more accessible.
  • Creating breakout rooms for attendees to jump into to meet others at the event.

Leverage technology to ensure your virtual booth as eye-catching as possible.

Make sure your virtual stand is fun, insightful, and visually appealing at the same time. Present your company information in a visually satisfying way by using all the visual tools that your virtual event platform provides.

Engage your attendees with the right questions.

If an attendee has entered your virtual booth, you've already made an impact on them, and there is a fair chance they're ready to strike up a conversation. Ask open-ended questions in discussions with them. These conversation-starters help you identify potential leads more efficiently.

Virtual trade shows have the potential to be as thrilling as a live event, but it relies on using creative ways to recapture the excitement of the in-person experience.

Stephen Hoang

Written by Stephen Hoang