How many trade shows has your company participated in? Have you ever hosted a trade show? If so, you probably are more than aware of the numerous benefits of exhibiting at one. Trade shows are excellent outreach tools which allow you to connect to new customers, old customers, business partners, associates, industry allies, and even competitors. They allow you to reach a highly concentrated target market, even if you work in a niche field, discover new audience members, and get face time with customers and clients. They are an excellent way to generate new sales leads and introduce your products and services to customers. Trade shows have long been associated with innovation, and by appearing at an exposition, you are telling others in your industry that you are on the cutting-edge.
But to be truly cutting edge you must be agile. Agile to market your products/services, promote them, and connect with customers who have the need and resources to buy them. Virtual trade shows are becoming one of the most popular ways for companies to communicate their message quickly and effectively, exhibiting their innovations to a mass online audience. According to Forrester’s research, “Virtual Events rank as the 2nd most important source of information when business decision makers evaluate technologies or services to purchase.”
It’s true that online trade shows have some drawbacks; no presentation medium is perfect. Your customers cannot see and touch your products in person. But they can still view them in video demonstrations, and you still have the chance to offer giveaway opportunities and other incentives. You also are unlikely to enjoy as many spontaneous, random encounters when you operate a trade show booth online, but there are other advantages to doing a trade show online which help to make up for these drawbacks.
Unique Advantages of Virtual Trade Shows
- Save Money. Perhaps the greatest single advantage of virtual trade shows is that your fees are likely to total to a few thousand dollars and no more than that, whereas costs for attending an offline trade show can easily tally $100,000, even if your business is a small or mid-sized one. Virtual trade shows by contrast incur only modest fees but still generate excellent revenue.
- Mobile Access: You don’t have to be present at the exposition center in a particular city at a certain time or date to attend your own trade show. You can participate from the office where you conduct your everyday business, eliminating travel costs and hassles.
- Audience Reach: Just as your employees may not have the luxury to travel to attend a conference, just think how many potential buyers and others who may want to interact with you cannot afford the time or money to travel to a trade show. By hosting your event online or extending your presence using a hybrid model, you are able to reach out to these potential customers, prospects, partners and other interested parties around the globe.
- Streamline Promotion: Promoting an online trade show is a lot like promoting one offline, except that you may discover your marketing tactics are actually more effective. Why? You are promoting an online event to internet users who are online to begin with. It’s much easier to funnel traffic online from one website to another than it is to promote your event on your company’s social marketing websites and try to funnel traffic to a destination in physical space. You can also prompt attendees at the virtual trade show to help you to spread the word while they are interacting with you. This can bring even more traffic in while an event is in progress.
While virtual trade shows may seem like an unusual concept if you have never attended one, over the coming years you can expect them to rise to prominence. Many small and medium-sized businesses cannot afford to attend trade shows in person, but they can afford to band together and host important industry events in virtual space. As awareness of virtual trade shows grows in the public mind, these cutting edge outreach tools will become even more powerful. Take advantage of that new technology and leverage it now for even greater success in the coming years.
Post contributed by Adam Polaszewski