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Why It's Time For Skeptical Vancouver Exhibitors To Give Virtual Exhibits A Second Look

December 15, 2020


Why It's Time For Skeptical Vancouver Exhibitors To Give Virtual Exhibits A Second Look

LIKE MANY OF OUR CLIENTS, We didn’t think this was possible but now we are believers!


Remember back in the chaos of Spring and Summer 2020, when many trade shows simply converted their live events to virtual? Many exhibitors were skeptical that those initial, limited virtual interactions could replace the brand building and customer engagement of live events.

At that time they were right. But not anymore.

In the early days of the pandemic, trade show organizers, exhibit designers like Skyline BC, and exhibitors worked tirelessly to solve some of the challenges that existed or were perceived with participating in virtual events. We have moved swiftly from a time when a relatively small number of exhibitors reluctantly attended virtual trade shows to a point where tens of thousands of companies have shifted to virtual exhibiting; often with eye-catching results. That huge increase of activity has provided fertile ground for Skyline BC to firmly establish technological expertise, reliability and best practices.

If your company is not actively embracing virtual exhibiting, you are missing out on a real opportunity to implement a marketing platform which will deliver measureable ROI to your sales and marketing efforts. Using many tools previously only available to digital marketers, trade show marketers can now track, save and respond to trade show attendees with engagement like never before.

Below we have identified 7 concerns you might have that are preventing you from reaching your sales and marketing goals.

Challenge #1: Virtual exhibiting does not have a strong ROI

The Solution: Virtual exhibiting has turned the corner. The benefits for virtual exhibiting have gone beyond the tipping point and this platform has already proven that when done right, it can produce so much value:

Benefits:

  • Virtual trade shows are actually increasing attendance compared to their former live events. That's because previously interested potential attendees who balked at the travel costs and 3-or-4-day time commitment are now able to attend virtual shows. Often attendance has doubled. The geographic audience has expanded, as it's much easier to all attend in the same digital room.
  • Virtual exhibitors are getting great ROI from virtual exhibiting when following best practices, especially those building their own custom virtual exhibit. They are reporting similar or higher lead counts, and sales, but with significantly lower costs (no travel, no drayage, no shipping, no I&D, etc.). 
  • Virtual exhibitors are hosting live, memorable experiences that deepen relationships with prospects and customers.
  • Lead conversions can accelerate compared to physical trade shows, because your attendees are already at their desk next to their work computer, and can keep going further into your digital content or website. With physical in-person shows, prospects can lose momentum because they usually put pursuing your products on hold until they return from the hotel and show city.

Challenge #2: Virtual trade shows are for digital marketers, not trade show marketers

The Solution: Actually, digital and experiential marketers are teaming up with often fabulous results. Successful virtual exhibitors are combining their existing trade show marketing skills with the measurement and tracking benefits enjoyed by their digital marketing colleagues and both sides are learning a lot and having verifiable success.

Benefits:

  • Setting event objectives to guide their planning.
  • Pre-show and at-show promotions to drive greater traffic to their (virtual) booths.
  • Strong custom virtual exhibit design to build their brand and communicate marketing messages, with streamlined content appropriate to limited virtual mindshare, with interactive content and live staffers to connect to their audience.
  • Booth staffer selection, training, and scheduling to boost performance and results.
  • Lead management to ensure greater sales.
  • Measurement to profitably evolve their show schedule and improve future show performance.

You still have to put in the effort. But the path forward is well established.

Challenge #3: We don't know how to do virtual trade shows

The Solution: You don't have to start from scratch. After many months of accelerated experimentation, there is now a proven path for you to succeed at virtual exhibiting. We would love discuss your objectives and let us develop a strategy that works.

Benefits:

  • If you love your existing booth design; use it!
  • Access huge audiences from show owners (often twice live event size).
  • Pre-show marketing to get higher numbers of the right attendees to your virtual booth.
  • Create at-show attendee engagement, sometimes even with physical giveaways delivered before or during the event time window.
  • Staffers accessible via streaming video or chat for demos, meetings, and presentations, trained to guide attendees around the virtual exhibit.
  • Build your own reusable, branded, highly interactive virtual exhibit to generate leads and customer engagement, and then link to it from your listing within the show's virtual trade show.
  • Follow up on your well-documented best leads.

Challenge #4: Lead quality can't be as good as when we meet face to face

The Solution: Actually, you can much better identify the high-quality leads because we provide you with the tools to uncover a wealth of actionable insight on your virtual exhibit leads.  One of the most difficult aspects of live trade shows is collecting measureable results and this has become dramatically easier with virtual exhibiting. That's because virtual exhibitors can track who visited their booth, what they did there, what was discussed and what follow up is necessary. We can help you integrate the virtual exhibit lead capture with your company's CRM system for better lead management than you get from regular trade shows. Your sales force can follow up more quickly and effectively and prevent those leads falling through the cracks, thus wringing more ROI from your virtual exhibiting program.

Metrics can include:

  • Visits (number, average length).
  • Total dwell time minutes.
  • Average booth dwell time.
  • Dwell time / heat map by activity.
  • Number of clicks / not clicked per activity.
  • Number of product pdf downloads.
  • Number of white paper pdf downloads.
  • Website visits (number, where, average page views, actions, conversions). 
  • Number of videos watched (and % watched). 
  • Text chats (number, who, where). 
  • Live Video Q&A chats (number requested, number performed, who, where). 
  • Live Video demos (number requested, number performed, who, where). 
  • Lounge visits (number, average time, who, engagement level).
  • Number of booth tours.
  • Presentations watched (number and % watched).

Obviously, you don’t have to track all those metrics, but it’s amazing what you can track.

Challenge #5: Virtual exhibits are too limiting

The Solution: If you get the standard, show-supplied virtual exhibit option, we agree they are too limiting.  The show-supplied virtual exhibit only gives you a small image and links to a couple of pdf downloads and videos. These underwhelming virtual exhibits then link to your company website. It’s the virtual equivalent of showing up at a real trade show without a booth and standing in front of the pipe and drape handing out business cards. But that's not your only choice. Instead, get a custom-built virtual exhibit.

We can design and build you a captivating virtual exhibit with a ‘big brand presence’ for a fraction of the cost of a similar booth in a live setting.

Virtual exhibit elements can include:

  • Live text or video chat with your staff for product demos.
  • 3D view walk arounds that immerse visitors in your brand.
  • Virtual building tours.
  • Guided booth tours.
  • Interactive infographics.
  • Animations.
  • 360-degree photos.
  • How-to videos.
  • Presentation theaters.
  • Complete selection of white paper + product brochure pdfs and videos.

This far greater level of interactivity retains attention longer, generating more leads, more engagement, and more sales pipeline.

Challenge #6: Virtual exhibits are too expensive

The Solution: If you have to get a new virtual exhibit for every show, they are too expensive! So, if you keep using the limited show-supplied virtual display, it will be harder to get your money's worth. Or, if you get your virtual exhibit from a builder who requires you to pay for the same, unchanged virtual exhibit again and again at every show, that will also be too expensive. 

However, Skyline BC’s business model is a game changer. We only charge you once for our original virtual exhibit design.  Feel free to use it again at future shows. You own your own asset. We only charge as you come back to evolve your booth with additional new functionality, new messages, new offers, or new products to feature. You can easily change your graphics and messaging, and spread the cost of your virtual exhibit among other company divisions.

You can repurpose your virtual exhibit in many ways:

  • Reuse interactive elements of your virtual exhibit (such as videos and 3D product models) in your website.
  • Our clients have frequently said their sales people LOVE using their virtual exhibit all year round to engage and present to customers -- it's their favorite digital presentation tool. That alone gives you significantly valuable extra use from your virtual exhibit.
  • You can even use the virtual exhibit as part of your own virtual events, such as product launches, user events, VIP events, job fairs, supercharged, highly-interactive webinars, company meetings, and sales conferences.
  • Plus, you can connect with missed show attendees by sending them links after the show, or get attendees to share the link to their colleagues.

 

Challenge #7: If I invest in a custom-made virtual exhibit now I won’t get enough ROI because the pandemic will end soon

The Solution: Virtual exhibiting is here to stay. The surprising success of virtual trade shows (high exhibitor ROI, larger show audiences, greater tracking) ensures that show organizers will shift to hybrid events post-pandemic rather than return to live-only events. Therefore, you will still have lots of opportunity to use your virtual exhibit.

And consider that your competitors who have been doing virtual trade shows while you wait have been successfully reaching and engaging large numbers of customers and thus gaining market share at your expense.

Finally, your sales people will still LOVE using your custom virtual exhibit again and again as a sales tool or virtual showroom for interacting with their prospects before and after each event long after the pandemic is over.

Now Are You Ready To Get Started on Virtual Exhibiting?

It may have made sense to be cautious several months ago about virtual exhibiting, but that time has passed. Now, with their proven performance and the continuing potential loss of market share to your virtual-exhibiting competitors, it’s time to jump in.  Your virtual exhibit is a gateway to greater customer interaction, now and in the future.

 

TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL VIRTUAL EVENTS & VIDEO CONFERENCING BOOK

REQUEST YOUR FREE COPY TODAY!

In this book, Skyline has compiled 18 blog posts originally published in Skyline E-TIPS. The posts combine valuable tips and trends about virtual trade shows, video conferencing, promotions and giveaways, engagement, lead management and much more.

This book is available to download for free. Just click here for our request form, fill it out, and we will send you a copy today!

https://www.skyline.com/request/virtual-events-book

 

About the Author

James Gray is the Director of Sales for Skyline BC, which delivers unique, cost-effective and innovative trade show displays to Vancouver and British Columbia marketers.  James uses his experience and customer service focus to help his clients improve their brand representation and manage the high operational cost of exhibiting in Canada and the United States.  Visit Skyline BC’s website at www.skyline.com/vancouver-bc.

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