Virtual trade shows — which are online events rather than in-person exhibits — are gaining in popularity as companies try to cut costs.
“Compared to a live trade show, the virtual version offers obvious cost savings in production (including booth construction and storage and booth space rental), travel and shipping. In fact, virtual trade show producers report, on average, cost savings ranging from 50-90 percent,” said Tricia Heinrich, senior director of strategic communications at ON24, a global virtual event company.
Virtual events also allow show producers to evaluate the attendee’s visit duration, clickstream, collateral downloads and comments to assess the value of the content.
However, if not well-planned, a virtual event can be a waste of time and money. Heinrich offers five tips on how make a virtual trade show work for your company.
- Vision: Unless you have clear goals in mind and strategies to achieve them, your virtual event will not be a success. You have to know what you want to accomplish. Without a vision, event hosts have difficulty making decisions. “Our competition does virtual events” does not qualify as a plan.
- Quality Content: Why would anyone want to attend your event? What’s in it for them? Unless you have something of value to offer them (great speakers/webcasts, opportunities to network with fellow attendees and exhibitors, informative presentations and collateral that can be downloaded), there is no reason for anyone to show up.
- Resources: Your virtual event is not going to magically appear by itself. If you do not have the time, energy, employees or money to meet your virtual show objectives, then wait until you do.
- Attendees: Unless you have a sufficient target base to achieve your attendance goals and provide sufficient ROI and the type of promotion strategy to make people aware and interested enough to attend, you should wait until you do.
- A good team: A successful virtual event requires dedicated, organized, creative and flexible people. Not only do you need team members who are capable of the handling the tasks assigned to them, but they must also be willing to make the effort to follow through on their responsibilities. Your event will only be as successful as the effort your team puts into it.
When you do a virtual event, you want to put your best foot forward to create a positive impression of your company and maximize efficiencies to achieve significant ROI for your efforts. If your organization can’t meet the reasons listed above, it may be best to wait until it is truly ready to take the virtual plunge.
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