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Create Your Own Virtual Trade Show Booths

August 27, 2020   Posted By Joel Goldstein
   

Benjamin Franklin told us that the only things certain this world are death and taxes, but COVID has added something new to the list: uncertainty. That applies to every corner of B2B marketing and lead generation, of course.
ljs virtual booth main page
As marketers begin making plans for 2021, one of the largest items in any B2B budget is the trade show line item. Should we plan to attend shows next year, with attendance likely to be lower until the latter half of the year and into 2022? Should we begin participating in the virtual trade shows many event organizers have pivoted to offer, and will your customers/prospects even attend those virtual events?

It’s hard to know where to place your budget bets. For many companies, shows are the largest line item in their marketing budgets. While the cost/lead is typically the most expensive lead you’ll generate (about $200-800/lead on average depending on the study you read*), they’re critical for creating face-to-face selling opportunities for many companies. Where else can you go and make 10-20 sales calls in a day to people you’re trying to reach? So, what to do in a post-COVID world? Here are some observations from the virtual trade show programs we've seen so far:

  • Participating in a virtual show makes sense for many companies, but the lead numbers you'll generate remains hard to forecast.  Many of these shows actually have higher registration numbers, and will for the next 12-24 months, as people are reluctant to travel. 

  • Yet, that doesn't mean they'll find their way to your virtual booth at the event.  In fact, without people walking up the aisles, it will be even more difficult to generate leads for many companies who participate in a virtual event.  The only way to make it pay is to buy into the organizers' ad programs and newsletters they are selling to get people to attend your show, webinars, and demos.  If you go to virtual event and hope walk-by traffic will pay for the effort, you'll be disappointed.  Of course, that goes for participating at a live event as well!

Three notes of caution about virtual events:

  1. Online formats remain an awkward digital experience for humans today. It’s not likely attendees are going to spend 8 hours a day for several days in the show environment, as they would at a live event. You’ll want to think through how to make videos, demos and presentations that are “snackable” in size and easier for people to skim and digest

  2. Many companies report their best value from attending a show is to sell to other exhibitors. That’s difficult at an online show, because often the executives and decision-makers you want to “run into” aren’t going to be manning the chat tools in a virtual show booth.

  3. We’re not big fans of many of the virtual booths being created by some of the event organizers. They require a lot of work to create, and they’re typically live for just a few months, forcing companies to recreate it time and time again.

Virtual Booths Offer Many Advantages

GGC has created its own virtual trade show product with all the interactivity and lead generation capability that any B2B marketing program should have. In addition, it’s a permanent online product, so it has far more value to a company than the temporary booth creations being offered today.

Consider a few of its features and advantages:

  • Visitors to the booth begin with a lead form, but one that has value. It asks for your industry, so the booth experience can be tailored to the products relevant to what you’d like to see.

  • Many companies go to an event with a 10’- or 20’ -foot booth, easily overpowered by an industry’s large behemoths. 

  • But with a virtual booth, you can create a “big-company” presence that positions you as an industry leader.

  • GGC’s virtual booth includes chat integrated with whatever tool you’d prefer, along with full analytics tracking to identify how long people stay in your booth, and where they go.

  • Based on CAD files, we’re able to show detailed vies of your products, even in 360-degree rotations.

  • Kiosks are easily created with different content assets tailored to a specific industry.

  • Going to another show is a simple change of the booth’s graphics and 

    industry content. You don’t need to start from scratch to create an entirely new booth presence.
  • The booth remains in place as an interactive lead generation content piece forever. Adding a new product to your mix? Just create a new kiosk. Have a new video or webcast to showcase? Just add it to the existing kiosks in your booth.

A Variety of Marketing Applications for Virtual Booths

We expect the permanent virtual booth to allow B2B marketers to create a variety of messages that will boost participation and lead flow:

  • "Not able to attend this year's Expo? No problem, here's what we planned to show..."

  • virtual trade show

    “Going to the show? Here’s a sneak peak of what we’ll have on hand, so let’s schedule a meeting…”

  • “Show cancelled? Come see our booth anyway…”

  • “Want to visit our facility? Here’s a preview of what you’ll see…”

  • “Want a demo on our newest product? See our new kiosk inside our virtual booth…”

  • Pitch industry media/editors to cover your company and its new products, either at the show or at any time.

Scoping a virtual booth project is a simple task at this stage, with many of the elements repeating from booth to booth we're building.  We just need to know the number of industries, products, kiosks, etc.

Thinking about how to make it work?  Let's brainstorm ideas.  Contact us today.

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