5 Best Practices for Online Event Exhibitors

Many tech and telecom conferences have gone virtual, thanks to COVID-19, and if you’re an exhibitor at one of these newly-changed events, you may be wondering how to successfully shift or match the “real world” experience to the online one. Here are five best practices for maximizing your online event exhibitor results.

  1. Plan ahead as you would for an in-person event

What’s the first, most effective way to begin your successful online tech event? Get the attendee list from the event organizer and identify all your current or past customers. Create a list and send out a series of emails to set appointments during the online event. It’s the perfect way to be sure you’re having ongoing conversations to learn what’s working, what isn’t, and how you can help your customer in the future.

  1. Create a special offer for current and previous clients as well as prospects

A great way to encourage current and previous customers to “visit” during the online conference is to create a special offer that’s only for those touching base or “showing up” during the event. This gives you a great opportunity to set up that meeting and see how you might further the relationship. It’s also a good “reason to call” or contact a previous customer, to let them know you’ll be there. It’s a lot easier to attend an event online that it is to get budget and to travel to attend one “in real life.” Take advantage of this much greater opportunity!

Everyone who’s registered for the conference who isn’t yet a customer is now a prospect. Send them emails to let them know you’ll be an exhibitor at the online event and let them know how you solve their most pressing problems and issues.

You can also create another special offer that’s only available during the online event. This gives you a great opportunity to encourage people who may be still in the awareness phase of the buyer’s journey to “stop in” and learn more about you.

  1. Look for online events with pre-scheduled or set appointments

A virtual event can be as productive for exhibitors as an in-person event – if there are opportunities to have meetings or appointments, just as you would in a booth.  Some virtual events may have a format where you have the opportunity to review participant profiles and then to request meetings directly, or are provided with a preset schedule.  These meetings can easily go virtual, and can also include a prospects colleagues and broader team.

It may also be valuable for your sales professionals to have a set of qualifying questions to ask that quickly gives your company an idea of how hot that lead is, and it’s also a time to have a productive conversation with contacts who may not be ready to buy now, but will in future.  Appointment-based virtual shows may well provide new opportunities to initially connect with contacts more deeply than by chance in a physical setting.  Take full advantage of the scheduled time you get.

  1. Do demonstrations or have a “customer” story to tell

With an online event, you can set up demonstration times; send these out in your emails and talk about them in your social channels. Your social posts can be helpful in “drumming up a crowd,” reaching out to those who are attending the event (through the event hashtag) as well as followers.

If you don’t have an opportunity to demo software or hardware, line up a customer to talk about their story: what issue(s) they had and how you helped solve them. Letting others know, through emails and social media, that your customer will be talking about their experience is a great way to help them, too! They’ll feel appreciated for the public recognition of their brand and other prospects, who are like your customer in their profile, will see how you can help solve their issues.

  1. “Tie down” and follow up, as you would with a “real life” show

So much of trade show success is about follow through, and it’s the same with virtual events. Use the sales tactic called the “tie down” to secure next steps with those you connect with virtually.  Choose dates for the follow up call, understand the goals and objectives of that contact and what should be accomplished, and then, when you send the invite for the next “touch,” ensure that you have provided an agenda or clear set of talking points so that every interaction is productive and value-driven.

In addition, add these names to your marketing nurture programs, as many of the people who “showed up” may not yet be ready to buy, and were in the “information gathering” phase. They’ll appreciate you sending them additional information that will help them to evaluate your company’s products and services.

If you have other thoughts and ideas about this, let us know! ExpoIQ appreciates your feedback and suggestions.