With Covid-19 restrictions limiting the usual get-togethers over the last 12 months, and for the foreseeable future, it’s become more important than ever to find alternate ways for companies to engage with their customers, and vice-versa, in a safe and reliable manner.
This necessity has paved the way for rapid and significant advances in virtual trade show software, allowing companies to still benefit from exposure to their marketplace, and with a strong return on investment (ROI), despite much lower costs. Think about it – in previous years organisations would pay a handsome fee just to be present at a gathering of their customers (medical conferences etc.), and then pay a whole lot more money to erect a fancy and impressive booth in order to draw people in, so that they could pitch their sale! Now, with the ability to do these things on a virtual platform, the same organisation can save enormous costs, yet still pitch their sale, albeit in a different way. This can include Webinars, Virtual Trade Shows and more.
According to Forrester research (1), big business now ranks virtual events as the second most important source of information, and the market is expanding rapidly. Through 2020 we saw the rise of new and improved platforms such as:
Go to Meeting
Skype for Business
Depending upon the type of meeting; the number of presenters involved, and the size of the target audience, there are multiple options to choose from that will do the job well, however it’s important that the target audience is defined, and that the campaign to enroll prospective customers is done with the end in mind, i.e. to generate qualified leads that you, the sales rep, can follow up on!
From the customers’ perspective, virtual meetings are much easier to attend because they don’t need to travel or pay for expensive flights and hotels etc. and they can usually join the meeting from anywhere that suits them with a good internet connection. It offers convenience and, because of this, generally attracts a greater number of attendee’s than an actual face-to-face gig. From your perspective, it also offers convenience because you have fewer set-up costs; greater flexibility in when, and where the meetings can be held, and can also involve multiple presenter who are based in different locations, all at the same time.
Now, you may wonder why I’m telling you all this as a sales rep – given that it’s unlikely that you personally would have any involvement in the set-up or execution of such virtual meetings, as they will usually be orchestrated directly by your marketing people. However, those marketing people need to know who to target as prospective customers and, more importantly, they won’t get any bang-for-their-buck (ROI), unless the attendee’s are followed up beyond the event, and a sale is driven forward. So in that regard, you are a vital link in the chain and therefore it will be important for you to understand what the purpose of the meeting is; what topics are to be covered, who the attendees will be, and what your follow-up strategy needs to include.
The most important thing to remember is that a ‘virtual trade show’ is still a trade show (2), so make it work for you and you’ll be glad that you did!