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Companies sometimes incorrectly assume that exhibiting at virtual shows is easier, less labor intensive, and requires less planning than a live event. While most of the manual labor of traveling and physically setting up the booth is eliminated, a clear and concise plan is still crucial to a successful event. Companies that don’t prepare ahead of time or don’t give themselves enough time to strategize are likely to be disappointed when they don’t receive the ROI they were hoping for.
After working with hundreds of exhibitors, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work for exhibitors, and here is my list of what exhibitors get right during their planning process, so you can incorporate these into your own planning strategy.
Strategy #1 is to research the attendee.
Successful exhibitors research to understand the type of individuals who are likely to attend. They shouldn’t expect the audience to be exactly the same as in past live shows and a focus on the demographics of the virtual exhibitor helps target this new audience.
Strategy #2 is to assess your competition.
Exhibitors walk the tradeshow floor, check out the booths and get a sense of the other companies that are competing for the attendees’ attention. This is a little harder in a virtual event, but the savvy exhibitor looks to see who is exhibiting, and where they’ve exhibited in the past to get a sense of the competition.
Strategy #3 is to evaluate the agenda.
Content is always king at a virtual event, but it’s also an indicator of what the audience is likely going to be interested in. Exhibitors that want to cater to the virtual audience explore the agenda, look at the topics and incorporate those elements into their exhibit content design.
Strategy #4 is to give yourself enough time.
Creating the right exhibit doesn’t happen overnight in a virtual event. Starting early gives exhibitors the advantage of upgrading their graphics, producing new materials and videos for the virtual exhibit, and getting the content message in line. Generating a marketing strategy ahead of the event will ensure that both the event as well as your exhibit gets noticed.
Strategy #5 is to set meetings in advance.
Virtual events often keep attendees quite busy during event days, but that doesn’t mean they are too busy to meet with you. Successful exhibitors have a strategy to leverage the attendee list provided by the event, reach out ahead and get scheduled meetings on the books before the event opens.
Creating a virtual exhibit requires a different strategy than in a live event, and is not by any means any easier to set up. The time saved on the physical set up of your booth can be used productively and strategically to ensure a successful and strong ROI. Familiarize yourself with both your attendees and your competition, reach out to your attendees before the event goes live, and give yourself enough time to plan and produce all the elements of your virtual booth.
Plan ahead, and use the time before the event wisely to achieve a captivating and successful exhibit.