What happens when your business needs a quick pivot to survive? Not all companies have been able to do that successfully. On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning, I chat with Entire Productions’ CEO Natasha Miller about how they made the switch to virtual events in a big way.
Hiring an exhibit house is a big task. It’s a commitment to a business relationship that, ideally, you’d like to keep in place for years. But everything must come to an end, and there may come a time when it makes sense to consider changing exhibit houses. Here’s my quick video that looks at ten situations that may warrant that consideration:
The use of virtual tradeshow exhibits may not be exploding, although my sense is that it is increasing. Some big tradeshows have gone completely virtual for the next year or so, maybe longer, depending on the depth and breadth of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Which leaves exhibitors in a bit of a quandary: what to do about virtual exhibits. Should you invest in one? Should you just wait out the pandemic and hope you can get back to live tradeshows in the next six to twelve months?
And if you are seriously considering a virtual exhibit, it’s important to consider all of the various things you can do in the exhibit. I’ve seen a few virtual exhibits lately, and there is a wide variety in the approach. Some exhibitors have chosen the simple, let’s-keep-the-cost-down approach. Others have tried to throw everything in but the kitchen sink.
As an aside, one exhibit maker I spoke with recently said that a recent client of theirs did a virtual exhibit and found that at the virtual tradeshow, they experienced a 700% increase in leads for a fraction of the cost of appearing at a live show. My eyes opened at that stat, and while it’s impressive, it’s likely not going to be a common experience for every virtual exhibitor. But it does demonstrate that there is a lot of potential in virtual tradeshows if you plan ane execute well.
Having said that, there are a number of ways to get engagement at virtual tradeshows. The first is crucial: make sure that potential visitors know about your virtual tradeshow exhibit so that they are prepared, put it on their calendar, and have expectations.
The second is to build the expectations and prepare for them by putting specific things in your virtual tradeshow booth that visitors want. Things they’ll respond to, interact with, and share with others.
From that starting point, the question remains: what should be in your virtual exhibit? There are many answers, and your company’s specific needs should help frame the answer. Here are a lot of the things, perhaps not all, that could go into your exhibit. Keep in mind that each piece will add to your overall cost, much like a 3D real world exhibit, and that each piece of content, such as videos or white papers or PDF reports, all will take time and money to create. Before finalizing your plan, create a budget based on all of the pieces you think are necessary to make your virtual tradeshow booth a success.
Here are a number of things you can and should consider:
A place to collect visitor’s contact information
Download Center (PDFs, coupons, sales sheets, special reports, etc.)
Live stream video
Schedule a meeting
Learn about your company
Learn about new products
Give people the ability to share things on social media
Steer people to your social media outlets
Leave an audio or video message
No doubt if you put your mind to it, you can come up with more. What am I missing?
We’ve worked with Classic Exhibits for nearly a couple of decades, even before TradeshowGuy Exhibits was a thing. Which means we know the quality of their work, and their attention to detail and pleasing the customer. They will occasionally put things on sale above and beyond their “Lightning Deals,” which appear on Exhibit Design Search all the time at TradeshowBuy.com.
This time around, it’s a price cut on safety dividers and – in looking ahead to 2021 – free accessories for exhibit rentals for next year, which includes free hand sanitizer stations if the deal is reached prior to November 15th, 2020.
For years now, we’ve heard about the dangers of social media, and how it’s used to influence and manipulate us. It would take several books and a couple of full-length movies to cover all that goes through my mind, but this short mini-rant (okay, not really a rant, but still) distills a few things that I think are worth considering:
Are you guilty of any of these? Don’t feel bad. We’re only human, but if we know ahead of time what things to know, what to avoid and how to prepare, we can have a much better and more successful tradeshow exhibiting experience.
I’ve certainly blogged about this topic before. But things change, inside your company and outside in the events and tradeshow world. So I think it behooves any tradeshow manager to keep their eyes up and take note of changes in the exhibiting landscape. Here are few things rattling around in my brain:
Be aware of how other shows are unfolding in other countries. How are they dealing with protecting their exhibitors and visitors? It’s easy enough to find information on LinkedIn, especially if you follow fellow industry exhibitors. I see this type of information shared frequently and learned that a very large show was held in Europe lately. This means in some parts of the world, things are getting back to normal.
Know what’s happening with the shows you normally exhibit at. Are they planning to be all virtual next time around? Or do they have firm plans to be back in action at the convention center or hall where they usually have the show? Or maybe the third option: they just don’t know. The local convention center here in Salem is closed until further notice, but they have several groups on long-term contracts that want to come back once it’s okay. Some have smaller gatherings of less than a hundred (which might be okay under today’s guidelines); others expect hundreds, maybe more than a thousand. At this point, it’s hard to know when gatherings that large will be allowed.
Different states have different statuses. California, Nevada, Chicago, DC, NYC. They’re all different and all have different plans for getting back to larger shows. It may not make sense to spend a lot of time digging into each state’s specific plans, but just to be aware that what brings back large shows in Nevada may not be the same that brings them back in NYC or Chicago.
If your company goes to several shows a year, large, medium and small, would it make sense to have a ready-made virtual exhibit that can easily be adapted to fit the requirements of each show? Virtual exhibits are getting more popular, especially when exhibitors and show organizers have the understanding that even when (if) things return to “normal,” virtual exhibits can and probably will be a part of the marketing mix. Learn more about virtual exhibit in this Kevin Carty podcast interview, this Exhibitor Magazine webinar replay which includes a walk-through of the Canon virtual exhibit, and this blog post on what questions might come up around moving forward with a virtual exhibit.
Another thing to keep abreast of is how exhibitors and attendees are feeling about getting back to live events. This piece from TSNN indicates a majority of people are ready to get back on the exhibiting floor.
Yes, things are moving forward. Sometimes we feel it’s at a snail’s pace, but even incremental movement is critical. I suspect at some point, you’ll look up and find that you’re booking travel plans and signing exhibiting contracts and planning exhibit updates.
I’ve had Kevin Carty of Classic Exhibits on a handful of times this year for various discussions related to dealing with the COVID Pandemic, how they’re dealing with it and more. But this week I wanted to catch up with Kevin to learn more about virtual exhibits: how they’re working their way into designing and implementing exhibits for clients, and how exhibitors can think about and approach a possible virtual exhibit for their own use:
This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Rain. Sorely needed here on the west coast with all the forest fires still burning. We got a good dose of rain late last week and while it didn’t put the fires out, it gave firefighters a good helping hand.