Gone are the days of the in-person trade show. As marketers and sales people knew what to expect, prepare for, and deliver at a trade show, virtual fairs attempt to have the same type of deliverable. Does it? We’ll explore a few pro’s and con’s and leave it up to you to decide the quantity and quality of sales leads it can generate.
More Than a Booth
In-person trade shows are more than an exhibit booth. In order to maximize your presence and investment at a trade show, it normally takes a team with focused efforts to make a trade show produce sales leads. Here’s the breakdown of trade show worker assignments:
*Work the trade show booth during exhibit hall hours
*Walk the trade show floor to meet other exhibitors for possible partnerships
*Attend any of the ‘open’ sessions to gain insights into the industry…and network with attendees
*Go to as many after parties as possible to meet attendees
*Walk the show hallways, taking breaks to start conversations with attendees
*If your company was lucky to get a speaking engagement, your team of sales people were meeting and greeting attendees in the break-out room
*Press announcements conducted in a special room for editors
*If there’s a press room, leave an electronic/paper press kit for editors
*Invite press to the booth to educate them on your solution
Sales Funnel Advancement
*Place participating customers and key prospects together for lunch to provide in-person case study discussion
Now, that’s not to say every company does all of these trade show activities. If you did implement most of the activities, virtual fairs will be challenging as they are singular in focus. If you only exhibited at the booth, it may prove beneficial.
Virtual fairs are young in its maturation. There are many features to the software, and most hosts of the events are still trying to figure out how to maximize its use. When the benefits are not apparent to the exhibitor, most will take a pass and hope next year will be better.
Recently, a customer shared their reluctance to exhibit at a trade show they’ve attended for the past 15 years. With only one month to ‘showtime’, 5 exhibitors signed-up, including them. The number of registered attendees was not released, even when asked to multiple people at varied times.
However, the virtual fair that has shown signs of success are single-company hosted virtual fair. Here’s a couple of examples:
A food manufacturer sponsored an ‘innovation day’. This event had taken place in previous years however, it was only for one location. With the virtual event, all of their locations were able to participate. The best part was receiving management support, encouraging employees to attend. The exhibitors were allowed to market to the internal list, explaining what they will ‘see’ and ‘experience.’ The turnout was high with plenty of virtual visitors coming into the booth. The exhibitors were beyond pleased with their active day that created plenty of interest.
If you are fortunate to get a speaking engagement at a virtual fair, this can also prove to be profitable. Because this individual had a previous track record of speaking at events, it was a better situation for him moving forward. Why? Because of the wider audience that attended. Many more attendees from around the world had a chance to hear him speak. As a result, new opportunities came his way helping the growth of the business. And…no that company did not have a booth, only speaking engagement.
The challenge? These examples only cover 2 of the 10 ways to work a trade show. You’ll read plenty of articles that support the virtual events claiming more people sign up with higher attendance, as well as exhibitor information stays online for approximately 90 days, which before wasn’t available.
However, the same article (as well as others) are stating that we must invest more in production, make it easier to consume content and present the best media. Were we not before? Maybe yes, maybe no. So instead of investing in travel, hotel and food, you’ll need to reallocate those funds to video production.
Will you actually get something from it? That’s the risk, similar to in-person trade shows.
Here’s the bottom line. Whatever your decision on trade shows and/or virtual fairs, figure out what percentage of sales leads it will potentially generate. Continue your efforts to find other sources of sales leads as this is the perfect time to evaluate current sources and find new ones.
If you haven’t evaluated Project Reports from SalesLeads, it’s certainly worth considering as one of your new sources for sales leads. Even if you use SalesLeads, have you used all of the features such as ‘View Projects’, ‘News Alerts’, ‘Search Companies’ and ‘View Contacts’? It’s worth taking a closer look.