As we welcome 2021 into our home while 2020 sneaks out the back door, we can’t help but notice the mess the previous year left behind with it. Of course, by “mess” we mean the “temporary” changes that are slowly turning into a new permanent way of being.
This affected many industries as physical trade shows practically disappeared when shutdowns began last year. Since then, restrictions have fluctuated, but in-person trade shows remain stagnant and a thing of the past.
So knowing all of this, it’s fair to say that virtual events will be a big marketing and sales trend in 2021. So no matter what industry you work in, you’ll want to put together some virtual trade show ideas. Consider this hard lesson an opportunity to modernize your sales and marketing practices!
The Importance of Virtual Trade Show Marketing
Virtual trade show marketing has always held relevance since its conception, but it witnessed a massive spike in popularity in 2020.
With in-person networking and word-of-mouth suddenly disappearing, many companies didn’t know how to respond. Some have decided to sit on that leftover budget and wait for the storm to pass. Others, however, have adapted to the evolving market and gone digital with their marketing, including attending and exhibiting at trade shows.
One thing seems inevitable: The popularity of in-person trade shows will never return to the way it was before COVID. Even when the day finally comes that the pandemic is declared a thing of the past, digital marketing will continue to be more fruitful in many ways.
Digital marketing and virtual trade shows have unique advantages over traditional, in-person marketing, including:
- Access to a larger audience
- Improved ability to educate your prospective customers
- Easy-to-read metrics to track your progress
- Software that helps you organize and monitor contacts, goals, content, and more
Although this transition may seem scary, it should be looked at as a positive step forward. There are a number of steps you can take to make internet marketing for business owners more simple, and it all begins with reinventing your idea of marketing.
Virtual Trade Show Marketing Ideas
Before deciding to switch your budget around and invest in virtual trade shows, put some ideas together. This will help you create a clear path toward your goals and reduce the amount of time and money wasted during the transition to digital marketing.
B2B trade show marketing typically targets niche industries, such as healthcare technology and metal manufacturing. This means your buyer persona has to be a little more exact, and should aim to tackle any pain points or questions your prospects have.
Below are a few virtual trade show marketing ideas to consider:
Virtual Product Release
Looking to unveil your latest and greatest product that’s hitting the market? There’s no better (or cheaper) way to do it than through a virtual product release.
A virtual product release allows you to market your product on a global scale, which will ultimately:
- Increase leads
- Gain insight on your audience
- Cut back on your overall marketing cost
One good thing that has emerged from the pandemic so far is the increased development of interactive virtual tools. These tools have made it easier for presenters to engage with their audience without interrupting the presentation.
But perhaps the best advantage that a virtual product release offers is that it gives you complete control over what information is shared. This gives you the opportunity to emphasize the aspects of the product that you want your audience to know the most. Just be sure to avoid having tunnel vision and give your audience a chance to ask their own questions.
Virtual Tours of Facility
Having a virtual tour of your facility available during an online trade show is a great way to prove you own the capabilities and state-of-the-art equipment you claim you do. This reduces your need to directly deliver a pitch about it and opens the door for specific questions to be asked.
Also, simple programming can allow your guests to create their own avatar to use throughout the trade show, adding another layer of personalization to your event.
Virtual tours also give you the ability to host several different presentations at once. This gives your prospects more choices as they roam around.
Create New Workflows
This idea is more of a behind-the-scenes approach to virtual trade shows, but its importance shouldn’t be underestimated.
Workflows can be beneficial before, during, and after virtual trade shows. They help you keep a consistent and organized set of actions that need to be taken to turn a prospect into a customer.
Sales enablement software will be your best friend in this regard. This creates an automated workflow that can automatically send follow-up emails, track page visits and interactions, and overall guide your prospect through the buyer’s journey.
Virtual Career Fair
Through the use of technology, virtual career fairs give you access to a global pool of potential workers. This can help you diversify your workplace, and bring awareness to your brand.
A virtual career fair can also make it easier for you to sort through your options. You can speak with potential candidates through chat and video tools, provide information about your company through webinars, and filter through your candidates to find what you’re looking for.
And without needing to leave the comfort of your own home or workplace, you can speak directly with whoever you’d like.
Virtual Trade Show Checklist
Before hosting or exhibiting at a virtual trade show, make sure you follow a few basic steps:
- Create a Strategy
What’s your ultimate goal for the virtual trade show? Lay out your objectives, obstacles, expectations, and so on until you can monitor and determine if the trade show was successful.
- Prepare Educational Content
Since you don’t have to worry about printing out hundreds, if not thousands of educational literature, you can go ahead and prepare as much as you want. Providing your guests with educational content is a great way to keep them engaged and build trust in your expertise.
- Create a Schedule
Things will run much more smoothly if you have everything scheduled out. This helps both you and your guests plan out their time and prioritize the things they want to see.
This can also be helpful when booking meetings with leads. To help eliminate annoying back-and-forth conversations, try and include book-a-meeting buttons in relevant locations, such as an email signature.
If you or anyone you work with has any presentations or prospect-facing events, then it’s best practice to rehearse them. This helps you avoid “umm” and “oof” moments, and gives a more confident tone to your presentation.
Start the New Year Right
To start 2021 off the right way, you plan out some virtual trade show marketing ideas. The best way to reach the largest audience is through digital marketing. The more accessible and user-friendly your online presence is, the more likely you are to reach the modern buyer who’s doing most of their research online.
To learn more about virtual trade shows, then check out our slides on creating a trade show contingency plan: