Setting up a virtual tradeshow website for your tradeshow appearance is as easy as setting up a new website. Mainly because that’s exactly what it is. While I’ve seen a number of ways to do it, having a blog platform for your virtual tradeshow gives you the most control and flexibility.
There are some platforms that allow you to set up an virtual ‘booth’ which looks graphically much like a booth, replete with branding, graphics, aisles, floor sections and more. The trouble is, it looks like a website from 1998.
With a WordPress blog platform, you can customize it to no end and maintain total control over the process, look and feel and content.
So why set up a blog that’s specific to a single show appearance? Because you can funnel lots of eyeballs there, and once those eyeballs arrive, you can drive them to other useful things, such as opting into email lists, downloading branded white papers, ‘liking’ your Facebook page or more.
A well-built site that’s specific to a show will be packed with content. Some of that content would optimally be posted before the show to prep the world to the site. While this would be very useful for search engines, it is also a prime opportunity to invite your current clients and newsletter subscribers to check it out. Once the show is underway, have a plan to post videos, articles, interviews, photos and more on the site. Make it a place for people to find general information about the show, and specific information about your products and services and company.
Even though you have the virtual tradeshow website, don’t forget about Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter. Use those outlets to inform the wider population by the use of hashtags (Twitter), keywords (YouTube and Flickr) and ongoing conversation (Facebook). Those social media platforms will help raise awareness and drive traffic to your main site, even though much of the content is the same.
Two recent examples of the use of virtual tradeshow websites come to mind: the site set up for Osram Opto Semiconductor for Lightfair and the site put up by Griffin Technologies for their appearance at CES in 2010. Both were quite successful, and should be used as models for how to set up your own virtual tradeshow website.
So, the short list:
- Set up a blog that focuses on one event
- Register a domain and create a name for the blog that describes your company and appearance at the show
- Create some content before the show, mainly teaser material
- Post obsessively during the show: videos, articles, photos, interviews, product reviews, testimonials, booth guest schedules, demo schedules, etc.
- Post much of the same material to Flickr, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, using keywords, show and company hashtags, links back to your site.
After the show, continue to post updated material or video and information from the show for at least a couple of months. It’ll help keep the site high in the search engines. Plus, if you can keep material dripping onto the site for the rest of the year until the next show, it’s a great set-up for the next year.
Your payback for your time and energy will be much more visibility and a unique record of all the materials you took and archived at the show.