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5 Steps to Launching a Virtual Trade Show Plan

July 23, 2020

One outcome of the recent explosion in virtual events due to COVID-19 is the unprecedented opportunity it has created for companies that are expanding internationally. Truly, the “cheese” has moved.

By lowering barriers to entry, the ability to confidently and skillfully navigate virtual venues is more valuable than ever, particularly as entire industries move their trade show and events online.

How long will it take for things to return to normal? Tech giants like Microsoft and Facebook have already announced they are not planning any physical events until July 2021. Other industries are testing virtual platforms for the first time, but making no commitments.

In essence, there’s no way to know.

Regardless, the question every market-entry firm should be asking themselves NOW is, given the lower barriers to entry and unique opportunity to differentiate, do virtual events make sense for our company? If so, what is the best path to leverage the opportunity?

Here are five steps to help you get started.

Step 1: Avoid Overwhelm

virtual trade showsFor many companies, particularly those endeavoring to scale into new markets, the dynamics of moving to a virtual trade show strategy may feel overwhelming. You may be asking yourself:

  • How can I market to prospects I can’t see?
  • How can I train my staff if I’ve never participated in a virtual trade show event myself?
  • Is it possible to translate our branded booth display to the virtual format?
  • Outside the booth, how can I take advantage of trade show content and virtual hospitality events?

Don’t get paralyzed by fear! At MEET, we specialize in helping international B2B growth companies soft-land and scale in the U.S. through trade shows and events–even those that are virtual.

Step 2: Get Focused

The good news is that regardless of whether an event is virtual or in-person, the strengths of a highly effective trade show strategy are the same. They’re also the same as fishing.

You must know:

  • Who is your target prospect, i.e. what type of fish you are trying to catch
  • Where to find them, i.e. in which body of water they live
  • What type of call-to-action will prompt them to self-identify, i.e. what type of bait will attract them to your line

The first step to adapting your in-person trade show plan to a virtual format is identifying where your existing strategy is strong and where it needs to be strengthened.

After all, the likelihood of catching the right kind of fish is zero if you’re looking in the wrong body of water no matter which type of bait you use.

Think it might be time to take a closer look at your existing trade show strategy and how to optimize for better results? Check out MEET’s Trade Show Performance Assessment today.

Step 3: Set Goals

Undoubtedly, there are certain features of the virtual platform that you and your team will need to learn. Some opportunities to consider include:

  • Spend time getting to know the conference platform and booth features before the show.
  • Design a virtual booth display that is clean, easy to navigate, and brand-aligned.
  • Train your team not only on how to use the technology but how to be active and engaged on the platform.

Begin with specific goals for each event and align your preparation to those goals.

Step 4: Test Your Hypotheses

virtual trade showsAt MEET, we always advocate for testing your strategies during events and measuring results. None of that should change when you adapt to a virtual platform. In fact, it may even be easier and less resource-intensive to A/B test your marketing messages with a virtual display.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to do some competitive intelligence. For better or worse, it’s now easier to visit your competitors’ booths and see how they are using the platform.

Step 5: Ask for Help

The vast majority of virtual trade show participants are new to the platform and it’s safe to say that exhibitors, hosts and attendees are all learning together. Now is a great (and easy) time to stand out.

At MEET, we support international scaling companies to leverage all the unique capabilities of virtual platforms while laying a stronger foundation for in-person events when they come back online.

If you’re looking to:

  • Prepare and train staff on how to navigate virtual platforms
  • Adapt your integrated marketing strategy to fully leverage virtual booth displays
  • Identify and engage prospects in and outside the booth
  • Gain visibility during live sessions
  • Host virtual hospitality events

MEET’s Virtual Trade Show System can help.

Now’s the time to claim your “cheese” and get a leg up on the competition in a new market. Plan, Prepare, and Preform.

Launch your virtual trade show strategy TODAY.


About



MEET (meetroi.com) helps international B2B growth companies soft-land and scale in the U.S. through trade shows and in-person events. MEET’s processes help clients ramp-up sales quickly and maintain a steady stream of high-quality prospects going forward.  Contact Bill Kenney for a no-obligation conversation: bill@meetroi.com or +1 (860) 573-4821.