Top 10 tips for getting the most from your first virtual trade show (plus a key takeaway!)
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
It’s no surprise the world of in-person events has changed dramatically due to COVID-19 restrictions. To adapt, businesses and organizations have worked to quickly shift to connecting in virtual ways.
While the thought of participating in a virtual trade show may seem a bit overwhelming, it opens countless doors to new audiences and opportunities. Not to mention, it also reduces costs in printing, materials, and travel expenses. But most importantly, it offers you the chance to participate in national and international shows that may not have been an option for your team—getting you in front of previously unavailable markets and potential customers.
So, how can you best prepare your business and employees for virtual trade show success? We talked to the Regional Business Development Advisors here at Nova Scotia Business Inc. to get their insights. Not only did they share their Top 10 Tips for success, they emphasized what they think is the key takeaway - Take each show as an opportunity to learn and grow as the world continues to adapt to a new way of doing business.
With that key thought in mind, here are our Top 10 Tips for getting the most from your first virtual trade show. Keep in mind, it's not all new, many trade show fundamentals are the same for in-person and virtual events.
Tip #1: Know your strategy, goals, and objectives
It's basic, but the first step is to ask why you’re participating. This is your greatest ally in ensuring the success of any tradeshow—virtual or in-person. Developing a strategy, including clear objectives and goals, ensures you end up with a digital booth that converts and representatives that are confident and ready to engage with attendees.
Tip #2: Get to know the technology (and invest) in your digital booth
Digital booths are new for most of us. The possibilities are endless, and it takes time and budget to learn how to best capitalize on the technology. But, the adage of the importance of first impressions still stands—this is where attendees choose whether to engage with your product, service, and brand. If it's in your budget, hire a designer to assist with your booth build. Most platforms offer ready to use templates, but a professionally designed booth is more likely to deliver something unique that sets you apart from the competition.
Tip #3: Request and review available training materials
Take the time to review all training materials, resources, and event instructions provided by the event organizers. While you may feel like you're being inundated with emails, many of them have important information related to previewing and testing the booth and logging in, as well as training materials and exercises. Do your best to stay on top of them.
Tip #4: Curate your marketing assets (and then do it again)
We know it's tempting to include every asset you might have in your arsenal, but careful selection ensures a more targeted experience for potential leads—especially in a virtual environment. Only use resources that align with your strategy.
Tip #5: Use (and get comfortable with) live video chats
There’s no question that face-to-face interactions suffer in virtual events. Live chat is a great 1:1 conversation opportunity, but live video chats are much closer to an in-person interaction. They work especially well with product demonstrations, so be sure to practice! If you haven’t spent much time on video chats - get comfortable, and make sure you have your messaging and assets ready.
Tip #6: Develop as many cheat sheets as you need
Like any trade show, it's important to feel prepared for any question that might come at you. In virtual settings, it might be even more critical as expectations on responsiveness are increased. By preparing cheat sheets ahead of time, you avoid the need to search for answers.
Tip #7: Review the attendee list and book meetings in advance
Most virtual events share the attendee list with exhibitors a few days leading up to the event. If possible, familiarize yourself with it and identify any potential leads. Most platforms allow you to book 1:1 meetings ahead of time. Maximize the digital capabilities and the available intel and hand-select the right representative for each potential lead.
Tip #8: Develop a plan for capturing leads
The virtual setting might add a level of confusion that allows leads to get lost. Have a plan in place. If you have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, have it open in a different tab to capture any potential leads directly. If you don't have an existing CRM, don't fear! Have representatives capture leads in a secure and shared document for future outreach.
Tip #9: Practice, practice, practice
Chances are your first virtual trade show might feel a bit confusing. While most platforms are relatively intuitive, you and your team of representatives will be more prepared and feel more confident if you interact and use the platform leading up to the day of the event. Practice all chat functions, test out every link, and familiarize yourself with the booth content.
Tip #10: Use the data and learn, optimize, and repeat
Consider each virtual experience a chance to learn and optimize what you’re doing. Another core benefit of virtual shows is access to post-event data. This helps you identify weak spots in your event strategy and adjust any materials or training prior to your next show.
These 10 tips are just a start, and don't forget, virtual trade shows are a new experience for most people. Take each show as an opportunity to learn and grow as the world continues to adapt to a new way of doing business.
Interested in taking part in an upcoming virtual trade show? You may be eligible for our Export Growth Program, which funds the costs required to participate. Reach out to your Regional Business Development Advisor to learn more.