It’s a Catch-22 situation for every business owner – to shell out the expensive investment needed for participation in traditional trade shows … or not.
Until recently, physically setting up a booth, and all the inherent rental and promotion costs, could easily reach $100,000. For the largest firms, perhaps that was manageable, but for small and medium businesses those expenditures were becoming unmanageable.
Now, however, with the advent of virtual trade shows, business owners can instantly get much more bang for their buck – and all from the comfort of their offices, without the financial burden and logistical inconvenience of the traditional option.
In many ways, this shift is an industry game-changer, with more budget-friendly costs, and a green stamp of approval to boot. The virtual alternative eliminates the need for transportation of people and materials; that alone reduces a company’s carbon footprint.
For the uninitiated, virtual trade shows are designed for online use, designed to resemble a convention centre, with lobbies, networking lounges, conference and exhibit halls. There are booths for showcasing products and services. An online attendee can view demos, peruse literature, or chat with sales reps in real time. Often, there are keynote speeches or webinars, videocasts and podcasts, as well.
With companies these days adhering to green, sustainable policies, the virtual trade show concept is catching on in a big way. This year, in fact, Green Building & Sustainable Strategies magazine is presenting the first Canadian virtual trade show for green and sustainable building. Called Green Building Expo, it is utilizing cutting-edge technology. It’s definitely budget-friendly for exhibitors and free for attendees.
Companies, traditionally, participated in trade shows to generate new sales leads. People attended conferences for content and networking. The same results, as it turns out, can be attained by becoming involved in virtual alternatives such as the Green Building Expo.
And in many ways, beyond the financial implications, a virtual show has much more going for it. A physical trade show, to recap, can be a hassle for a large corporation and a major logistical nightmare for small and medium players. At a physical convention, hundreds of vendors and thousands of attendees are jammed into a cramped, noisy space. Often, the “little guy” gets dwarfed by the “big boys,” armed with substantial war chests, premium advertising and booth space, as well as high-profile keynote presentation exposure.
Now, thanks to computer technology, the playing field is level. There’s no doubt we’ll see explosive growth. It’s not a stretch to suggest that the virtual event market could replace the traditional conference and trade show concept.
Some of the more obvious advantages to virtual trade shows include:
• The green effect: Not only does the virtual model reduce a company’s carbon footprint on the front end, but it also eliminates the production of materials that will go to waste after an event.
• Making perfect sense: It’s logical to utilize new technologies and trends — after all, that’s what you’re encouraging your buyer to do. So it goes hand in hand with sustainability.
• Tracking lead generation: Virtual trade show platforms make it easy to provide prospects with downloadable materials, and many offer built-in tracking, lead management, and attendee profiles so you know exactly who is downloading what.
• Saving money: For those who’ve been to trade shows, you know it costs a lot, both to sponsor booths and to attend. Among the expenditures are paying for employee time, travel, lodging, and meals, not to mention the various outlays needed for booths. Then there’s internet, printing, electricity and shipping. There is absolutely no question that exhibiting at a virtual trade show costs significantly less.
• Better time management: Virtual trade shows not only allow you to save time on travel, but they often house your virtual booth for up to a year after the actual event. That means that the money you pay for your space isn’t buying you a few days, it’s buying a more long-term marketing platform.
• The cool factor: Booths can link directly to an exhibitor’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube social media accounts. Impossible to dispute the value of that.
• Extended reach: Companies can reach out to a global audience to generate a high volume of leads and prospects.
Moreover, virtual events are quickly evolving, becoming much more user-friendly. No longer do you have to understand complex computer functions to take part. While the basic computer skills of sponsors and attendees have likely progressed over the years, the virtual trade show developers have made the experience much more accessible, as well.
For additional information about the first Canadian virtual trade show for green and sustainable building, contact Executive Managing Director – Giulio Marinescu at 416.250.0664.