News and Insights

Where Do You Begin? When Your Trade Show Goes Virtual?

July 17, 2020

First, don’t fall in the trap of trying to replicate your trade show booth on-line. This doesn’t work well, because the experience at an actual trade show is very different than specifiers or buyers sitting at home, working on their laptops, tablets or phones. Actual events have a captive audience since attendees made the investment in time and money to physically visit a specific location and walk the show. On-line it’s very different, if the virtual event or experience isn’t instantly gratifying, POOF! – they’re gone with a click-of-a-mouse.

Second, realize that it’s not the booth that will appeal to your prospects, but the experience, that they can expect, engage, and gain value. This experience must relate to the interests, needs, priorities and challenges of your specific prospects. To determine what will appeal to prospects, effective and quick market research should be executed. This can be achieved with surveys that are brief and well-crafted to identify common pain-points. This research will then become core platforms to create compelling virtual experiences that will drive quality traffic and result in generating quality lead.

Third, with the discovery of what your prospects are most interested in, it’s critical to create compelling messaging. Typically, your messaging should promise solutions that can eradicate specific pain-points and effectively meet specific needs. Well-articulated messaging will not only compel prospects to commit to visit but also participate with your virtual experience. Also, select images that are disruptive and create interest. Use strategic headlines that cleverly relate imaging to prospect needs. Avoid static images of products and machines.

Fourth, create experiences that spur customer engagement and interaction. Consider these important points: your virtual site will be competing for attention among thousands of other virtual sites, ask yourself – “Why should a potential customer visit yours?” Also, if prospects do agree to visit your site, “how long will they stay”? And, will they ever again accept another invite from you”? The answer to all these concerns is the word “participate” versus “attend”.  You want prospects to do much more than just “attend” your venue; you want them to be engaged and to interact. There are multiple technologies and tactics that can be strategically executed so that prospects feel that the Virtual Experience addresses their specific needs and they get opportunities to share insights and ask questions. They can even get opportunities to ask for one-on-one discussions with a technical specialist in a virtual applications consulting room. Virtual experiences may include combinations of interactive product presentations, animations, live speakers and panel discussions, engaging videos, innovation challenges and “what if” scenarios. Create experiences that engage so that prospects feel that you’re listening and eager to help them achieve success. That’s how leads are qualified that convert faster to sales.

Fifth, make certain that you effectively integrate your marketing and sales technologies with your Virtual Customer Experience. This will allow you to easily and more effectively track prospects all the way from contacts, to leads, to conversions to paying customers. Too often B2B companies have made investments in CRM, marketing automation, database management, and other technical platforms that are under-utilized, siloed — stand-alone applications. Virtual Customer Experiences should work in harmony with these technical assets to better help you and your sales team identify targeted prospects, discover needs, track levels of interest, fuel interest with relevant content, and then accelerate conversions to paying customers. Our Virtual Customer Experience team carries out a marketing/sales technology assessment of a client’s technology assets so that an effective, easy to use integration takes place to accelerate success.

Sixth, execute a well-orchestrated, integrated communications plan to get prospects to signup and to actually attend your Virtual Customer Experience. Use engaging, clever messaging that leverages your research so that communications resonate with targeted personas. Monitor engagement with prospects so that messaging with the greatest reactions can be strategically repeated to fuel greater interest, registrations and attendance. Interact with registered prospects to learn more about their expectations and then use this feedback to build stronger communications as well as build more compelling Virtual Customer Experiences.

To help B2B companies meet fast approaching deadlines to create successful virtual platforms, we developed the PLAYBOOK on VIRTUAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCESContact me directly to schedule an exclusive presentation of our Playbook on Virtual Customer Experiences. 

Alan Isacson, Global Leader of the Manufacturing and Trade Practice at FINN Partners, Wishing you much success.