How to Make Your Virtual Trade Show a Success

Sitting in for Barry Armbruster is Kara Saylor, new business specialist at Nichols Brand Stories. Kara worked in the trade show industry for years before joining Nichols.  An expert on the topic, she has four tips to make your virtual trade show a success.

If there’s one business lesson to be learned this year, it’s don’t expect business as usual. The global pandemic has wreaked havoc on nearly all areas of business for many B2Bs.

One of the hardest areas hit? Trade shows. In-person marketing efforts, especially trade shows, have been cancelled across the globe for the foreseeable future. Even some of the biggest and most popular trade shows have disappeared this year.

There is an alternative that is gaining traction – virtual trade shows. As we all get used to the new normal, people are getting used to doing more online, so virtual trade shows are really taking off. Maybe it’s time for your company to consider exhibiting in one. To help get you started, here are four ways to help make your virtual trade show a success.

Identify Your Purpose and Establish Goals

Trade shows succeed because they attract the right audience. Show attendees are invited and show up because they are already interested in the type of product and services vendors are showcasing. In fact, they are they are the only form of marketing where your customers actually pay to come and see what you have to offer.

The same thing is true for virtual trade shows. In order to attract the right audience, you must clearly identify your purpose and recognize your goals.

First, define the overall purpose of your event. Trade shows are effective ways to achieve many marketing objectives – especially generating quality leads. That still holds true for virtual trade shows. What is your main objective? Just remember to make your overall purpose realistic, such as generating awareness of your brand or simply connecting with your customers.

Next, you need to set goals. Just like in a traditional trade show, your virtual trade show should set goals that actually matter. You don’t want to exhibit just because you can. You should set clear goals of what success looks like. Without spelling out what you want to achieve, you cannot evaluate the success of your virtual trade show.

Create a Virtual Booth

Yes, virtual trade show booths are a reality. What’s more, the design and overall look are just as important as their “real-life” counterparts. How do you get started?

The first step is partnering with professionals. Of course, you need a virtual space that is informative and looks great. But your virtual booth must also be fun to navigate.

Remember to also make sure your booth includes a call to action. Just like in the real world of trade shows, your virtual trade show booth should result in capturing the information of those who visit.

Promote the Event

After all the planning, you need to make sure people come to your virtual trade show. There are several ways you can increase your attendance. First and foremost, you need to make sure your customers know you’ll be there and how to find you.

Create attention-getting messaging about the event and your company’s role in it. Make it sound fun and interesting. Many of your audience members may not have ever attended a virtual event, so you need to make it seem interesting, informative and accessible. Sell the idea!

Take your message to various platforms.
Social Media: Create buzz. Post about the virtual trade show on as many platforms as possible
Email: Invite your audience with creative emails before, during and after the event
SMS: Reach out again to interested parties on their phones
Calls: Don’t be afraid to reach out to existing and potential customers with a phone call to invite them to the event

Finally, stay active. Continue to promote the virtual trade show up to and during the event. Many of these shows can be attended at the last minute, so it’s important to keep up the promotions. You also should make the entire experience, including registration, easy and accessible to your audience.

Follow Up

Just because your virtual trade show is over, that doesn’t mean your job is done. To make it a real success, you need to follow up. After all, if your original goal was to increase leads, you need to make the most of them.

I advise everyone to find out more about virtual trade shows. It can be a fun new way to stay connected with clients or gain new ones – especially in these strange and trying times. To find out more about virtual trade shows or about Nichols Brand Stories, please contact me anytime at