How to plan a successful virtual trade show – a guide for exhibitors

How to plan a successful virtual trade show – a guide for exhibitors

Yes, there are substantial savings when switching from traditional physical trade shows to virtual online alternatives – thousands of dollars to be exact.

But that doesn’t mean opting for a virtual event is a walk in the park. Planning and executing a virtual trade show, or online event, is not easy. In fact, it pays to do your homework and well worth the effort to give any virtual show the same level of attention as conventional fairs.

Although there is no physical contact, the virtual shows certainly offer participants the opportunity to connect with clients and business partners without having to meet them in person. As such, while saving time and money, they are able to promote their products or services, exchanging valuable information digitally.

But there still needs to be attention to detail. Successful online trade shows should offer the content, networking and product specifications associated with a traditional fair, with the added convenience, however, of access from any device, anywhere in the world.

If your company intends to set up a booth at a virtual fair, there is a checklist to follow. Sure, there aren’t any of the headaches inherent in traditional options – like booking airline flights, hotel stays, printing, and a myriad of other related expenses – but hosting a virtual booth still requires a marketing strategy.

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Here are a few considerations for those contemplating setting up a booth at a virtual show:

1) Establish goals: Before any plans are put in place, coordinate as a team exactly what you are trying to achieve. It’s the same principle as for a physical event. Next, flesh out the details.

2) Aesthetics: Take the time to create a visually appealing booth. It may not be a skillset your team has traditionally called upon, but good procedures are worth getting in place. Think colorful, high contrast, and high impact – work with the show’s managing director to determine the best way to grab browsers’ attention. Don’t forget to ask about the ‘add-ons’: additional promotional opportunities both inside and outside your booth. This can be anything from banners elsewhere within the virtual show to pre-event e-mail blasts, intended to make your participation even more personal and memorable. And make sure your logo is in a prominent place.

3) Prepare content: With a virtual event, there are fewer limitations to the quantity and quality of the content you can provide. Extended videos are just a click away for any virtual visitor. That said, you’re not just competing with other booths, but with an attendee’s day-to-day workload as well, and if you lose their attention for a moment, attendees can slip away. As such, a virtual booth does not mean you can scale back on the value proposition, but quite the opposite: content needs to be clearer and stronger than anywhere else.

4) Host a social booth: People will stay longer and engage more if attendees communicate with each other at your booth. Rally potential attendees on social media, encouraging them to explore your Facebook or LinkedIn presences. Offer anything from random prizes to advanced games. Provide your audience with a running start and they’ll be much more engaged with your conversations throughout your campaign. Attendees who have engaged will likely return to check buzz around your booth.

5) Give yourself enough time: Things don’t always progress at the pace you’d like. Whether it’s deliverables from an exhibitor, graphics from the creative agency or an e-mail list from your marketing department, insert sufficient wiggle room into the timeline. One of the biggest dangers of virtual event execution is the rush job to get to the finish line.

Before committing to a virtual trade show, however, you can get a feel for the experience by contacting the show’s managing director for more details or a demo walk-through. Once on board, all you’ll have to do is make a quick phone call to lay out the general design of the booth, and then you’ll be able to log in to the show, and upload information, including logos and company materials. 

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.



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