The quick read summary...
We have invited virtual platforms into our working and personal lives to get around the restrictions placed on us by the pandemic but can they be made to work instead of trade shows? There are some hacks that you can use to game the situation like asking several of your employees to be on the webinar to answer attendees' questions in the Chat Box or equivalent, or a pre-recorded video, PDF downloadable exhibition brochures or an exclusive club. This helps to give the impression of the personal touch within the boundaries of how we have to work at the moment.
As I sit here, gazing at my screen, I'm thinking about where I should be and that's at a trade show. Not necessarily exhibiting but attending. I love the buzz, the colours, the people and it's something that I'm missing at the moment because of the Covid-19 virus. It's got me thinking about alternatives that will still bring people together to discuss, network and view the latest stuff. Here's what I've discovered.
What's the alternative?
At a time when it seems that our options are limited, technology has come to our rescue and created opportunities to help us through the current situation. Virtual events and their corresponding platforms are multiplying. You've probably encountered Zoom and Microsoft Teams, there are other providers out there of course, each providing something slightly different to satisfy their markets. This blog is not to analyse these offerings, but instead think about virtual provisions and how they can be put to good use for you.
Using one of these virtual platforms is quite acceptable now. No one would have given them such prominence if the virus hadn't hit the world and kept us in our homes. Zoom, for instance, has quadrupled their userbase over the past year and with a reluctance for people to return to workplaces, that may increase. That begs the question 'what alternative is there for exhibitions and trade shows?' There is specialist exhibition software to mimic the trade show experience.
Your company can exhibit via a pre-recorded video which is then used to showcase your product or services within the exhibition space. The time and money spent on producing a high quality video may seem like a complete faff, but if you can use this across other platforms, like your own webiste, using extracts across social media, allowing your sale people to use it to convey a consistent message, it may not seem quite so daft after all.
There are alternatives to this exhibition approach. Panel discussions via pre-bookable webinar again might not seem tempting but when you look at the advantages, it may be a useful activity for you to be involved in. The benefit of attending a virtual event like this that there's no restriction of how many of your employees can support you on your virtual stand. You can have the engineers to answer questions which may appeal to your audience as they'll feel that they're getting information 'straight from the horse's mouth'. The sales team can be there to support them, along with other team members that you think will be able to contribute to delegate engagement.
Being virtual means that there is no limit to the number of employees that can get involved, there's no limitations on travel, accommodation, the expense of a large stand and time away from their families. On top of that, you can advertise your green credentials as everyone stays at home. Also reducing your carbon footprint, PDF downloads can be used to accompany the virtual meetings.
Try PDF downloads instead of exhibition brochures
Using these professionally produced PDF downloads instead of your usual exhibition brochures that hot leads can download from your website gives you many advantages. Place the PDFs behind a contact wall and you'll add a hot lead to your prospect database. Making sure that the PDFs are going to convey your message in a professional manner, look stunning with appropriate photography. You need not do without the valuable incentives that would have been distributed on your exhibition stand either.
Incentives help delegates feel like they're part of an exclusive club
Incentives shipped to the door of your participants will still give you the benefits of having your name in front of them. If you're interested, I can forward onto you the name of someone who packages and sends incentives in a Covid-19 secure way. The company reports back that delegates show off their incentives during the webinar and participants feel as if they belong to an exclusive club. All very useful when trying to promote brand loyalty.
What about a Buyers' Event
You can put these virtual events to your advantage by staging a 'Buyers' Event', inviting just your current buyers and making it more exclusive. You'll be able to speak directly to your buyers, introducing new features or products and getting their immediate feedback. By involving the design team, the Q&A will reveal any anxieties that can be addressed immediately with explanations geared specifically to your audience. These can be used in your subsequent advertising material to allay any concerns that any hot leads might have prior to purchase. Not only will you be able to make your audience feel special, but you'll be able to gather valuable feedback on what might be holding back your prospective buyers.
What's this got to do with event registration web apps?
Even though in-person events are not being held, the virtual event is a good work-round the Covid-19 restrictions. How does an event registration web app help with a virtual event as webinars have their in-built registration system? Yes, they do have this facility, but it's at the point that the delegates want to book that you lose contact with them and the webinar company has their details instead. Why would you want to hand over this vital information for someone else to use?
Instead chose a registration approach that allows you to link with the webinar provider, retain the delegates' details and use them to send out the incentives, collect the feedback on how they think the webinar went and maintain a hot lead list to inform them of future events. You can use this to classify your delegates and invite them to specifically tailored webinars to continue the conversation and become another of the 7 points of contact between you, prior to purchase. Choose your registration app carefully and it can become a valued tool in converting hot leads into happy customers.