News and Insights

Filling the Void Left By Canceled Trade Shows

February 24, 2021

FINN helps global OEM increase leads by 10% and reduce costs by 20% with new Virtual Customer Experience Platform

Like many B2B companies, tna, a leading global food processing and packaging equipment manufacturer, depends largely on trade shows to discover new customers and build brand visibility. However, as COVID-19 surged worldwide, opportunities to exhibit in trade exhibitions abruptly ended, and a major trade show organizer decided to take one of its largest annual events — at which tna had planned to exhibit — online.

To keep the sales pipeline full and find new avenues through which to connect with customers at this and other events, tna sought digital marketing solutions such as virtual exhibits and virtual webinars to fill the live trade show void. The company aimed to create a learning hub that could facilitate meaningful connections as well as disseminate its thought leadership on new challenges, key learnings, and information about its latest technologies and innovations. Yet many virtual options lacked both customer interaction and the ability to interface with CRM and marketing automation systems to efficiently support sales. Many virtual exhibits seem to resemble brochures, booth renderings, or simple microsites. 

With only a short runway to plan for this online trade show, tna engaged Finn Partners to create a Virtual Customer Experience — an exclusive FINN offering that enables interactive engagements with prospects to generate interest and qualified leads. Virtual Customer Experience would liaise with the trade event but also serve as an engaging, standalone customer destination. This collaboration rapidly produced a highly successful virtual customer experience that will serve as a new lead generation tool for months and years.

Building Dynamic Virtual Customer Experiences

The resulting platform featured four roundtables that highlighted several major customer pain points: the need to reduce waste and increase output; the need to automate handling of fragile products to enhance consumer loyalty and brand preference; the need to support faster changeovers to significantly reduce downtime; and the need to improve sustainability while decreasing total cost of ownership. FINN played a major role in creating the positioning and messaging for each roundtable.

FINN also conducted a thorough assessment of tna’s technology platforms — including website, CRM, database management, and marketing automation — to recommend a streamlined dashboard that would make it easier and faster for sales to follow up, track, and convert leads.

Shaping Compelling Customer Events

FINN and tna collaborated on research and discussions with tna customers to shape impactful roundtables that would serve as the cornerstones of the new platform. Roundtable participants included customers that could verify tna solutions in addressing specific issues and pain points. tna recruited a mix of large and small customers, including manufacturers and contractors, that agreed to participate in the scripted roundtables, which would unfold as Q&A sessions led by an engaging tna marketing professional.

During each roundtable, tna encouraged the audience to participate by sending requests for questions and comments through the platform to each audience member. The moderator took audience questions and relayed them to the speakers. Plus, tna asked members of each audience if they would be interested in participating in a private, focused discussion with tna experts in a “virtual meeting room.” Before each roundtable, the landing page served as a lobby, chock-full of videos and thought-leadership content.

Results from a Living Platform

tna used direct marketing, digital sponsorships, and social media to promote the event, securing 120 participants from around the world — a 10% increase in leads generated from the 2019 live event. tna also saw a 6% increase in new visitors to its website and a 6% increase in general traffic. The bounce rate also dropped by 18%, indicating the company was attracting relevant audiences to the website. Last, but not least, tna was able to work with FINN to achieve these results while saving 20% in costs compared with a similar show cycle. Even better, the platform will serve as a learning hub and a critical tool for ongoing lead generation through product launches and demos, interactive sessions, and webinars.

As COVID-19 vaccinations take place worldwide, trade shows and in-person meetings will be revived. However, attendance at live events and meetings may start small, inviting opportunities for hybrid events with strong digital components. In the meantime, B2B marketers are learning the value of a dynamic, sustainable, and sophisticated Virtual Customer Experience that can substitute for and/or supplement live events, capturing leads and strengthening customer connections.

For more information on filling your own pipeline with FINN’s Playbook on Virtual Customer Experiences, contact Alan Isacson at

For tna information, contact Bindu Panicker at


TAGS: Manufacturing