Your 2021 virtual trade show checklist: are you ready?
If you’re a seasoned trade show go-er, it’s likely you’ll already be feeling your way towards a new normal, in the virtual trade show environment. While this year has been exceptionally challenging for trade show organisers, some are taking a different approach and hosting virtual events to keep things fresh in their industry sector.
Attending a virtual trade fair as an exhibitor will need a new approach too. How will you catch the eye of your visitors? Many of you already know the struggle of keeping a trade show booth interesting enough to attract and retain your visitors in a face-to-face situation. The new virtual trade show landscape is going to need a different strategy.
We’ve come up with a checklist to help you prepare for the virtual event. Give yourself enough time to get ready and don’t underestimate the value of planning.
Optimise your online presence and branding
Don’t allow your current online presence to let you down. Your website and social channels will be more visible in your virtual exhibition, so ensure now that everything is current, optimised, branded and reflects your mission statement. Your website should be ticking all the boxes in terms of usability, such as optimised site speed, high quality, optimised imagery and consistency across your branding.
Get in touch with your digital marketing team to review both the performance and the content of your website and social presence and make recommendations for improvement. This will save you valuable time and allow you to focus on the rest of your checklist.
Get your hardware and software ready and tested
Making sure you’re ready for the virtual event in terms of having all the right hardware and software, apps and platforms in place is an important part of the preparation strategy. Give the team everything they need to perform well and test both systems and connectivity thoroughly.
Connectivity is crucial for live events and poor hardware or out-of-date apps won’t help with reliability. Ensure content is where it should be and that everyone who needs it has seamless access.
Plan your virtual trade show stand as you would a ‘real’ one
Getting your virtual trade stand prepared requires as much, if not more, attention to detail as your in-person stand would. Don’t be afraid to spend some budget on high-quality, eye-catching graphics and video content and think carefully about the layout. Some virtual shows may have a restrictive layout, but you can still optimise your chances by doing something different.
It isn’t easy to engage visitors at a trade fair when you can speak to them as they pass by. At a virtual trade fair this is going to be challenging. Get the team together or engage your marketing agency to get creative.
Give your visitors an engaging experience
Ensure you can connect with visitors to your stand quickly and maximise your opportunities to keep them there. Create engaging content in addition to the standard resources you’d take with you to an in-person event. Think outside the box and look at different types of content that can add some value to the experience, such as downloads, video demonstrations or interactive Q&A sessions where you can demonstrate your team’s expertise and knowledge. Choose your representing team carefully and involve them heavily in the preparation stages to make sure you all understand the approach.
Make sure all content is tested and optimised to give the best experience for your visitors.
Identify leads and arrange virtual meetings where possible in advance
Many virtual trade shows will provide a list of registered attendees in advance. Use this to try to identify potential leads and arrange virtual meetings where possible. This will give you a good start. If you know existing clients are attending, it may be a good time to arrange a courtesy meeting with them too.
Centralise leads and create a follow-up strategy
Some virtual trade fairs may provide a facility for the collection of leads. Whether this is the case or not, implement a company-wide storage system that can be seamlessly accessed by the team. Trade shows often provide warm leads that go cold when the show is over. Centralising the leads can enable swift follow up by other members of the team not involved in the event.
Prepare your follow-up strategy in advance too. This also needs a new approach. Create value in your follow-ups, particularly for those visitors you haven’t yet engaged with. You can involve your marketing creatives to prepare an outreach campaign or dedicated landing pages for attendees on your website to thank them for attending, as an example.
Talk to J&L and let us support your preparations for your virtual trade show
J&L know that you’re navigating new waters in the virtual trade show arena – we all are. Use our checklist to help guide you through the challenges. Let us help you to maximise your opportunities to connect with your potential customers in new ways and create a holistic view of your company and vision. Talk to us.