chrome hearts

Six Advantages to Virtual Trade Shows

Six Advantages to Virtual Trade Shows

Like online meetings, a virtual trade show can be simple or breathtakingly realistic. The simplest assemble a series of pages, each one a virtual booth for an exhibitor, plus instant messaging so exhibitors and attendees can talk in real time. The more complex are complete environments like highlevel video games or such online worlds as Second Life. In these, each participant controls an avatar. VOIP voice over internet protocol can allow you to talk to attendees, and you can easily email brochures or allow attendees to download them.

But why bother when facetoface meetings are so much more satisfying and real? Because virtual trade shows offer some solid advantages.

Imagine a trade show with no costs for transportation, shipping, hotels, hospitality, or booths, and just a minimal cost for exhibit space. Thats a virtual trade show.

With travel costs rising and travel budgets falling, more industries are turning to virtual trade shows as a less expensive way to showcase their wares. Electronics and high tech companies are naturally comfortable with the online format, but theyre not alone. Plenty of other industries, from plumbing to candywrapper design, have held successful virtual shows.

2. Spread Your Wings

All too often, the sheer size of trade show investment keeps the marketing department stuck in a traditional rut of what worked last year. The new medium will free you to experiment with innovative exhibit ideasand rapidly change the ones that dont work. At a virtual trade show, you dont need to worry about the flow of foot traffic or many other design constraints.

Moreover, youll have help designing your display. Setup on virtual trade show sites takes less than an hour, and the software is supplied. Depending on the site, you will have an exciting array of multimedia tools at your service. Some offer VOIP voice over internet protocol, so you can chat by voice with attendees. Most offer instant messaging capabilities, so you can chat in real time with attendeesand keep several conversations going at once.

3. Open a Stall in a New Market

Not only will you be able to test fresh approaches, you will also have the freedom to explore new markets without fear of blowing the annual budget. Because of the low overhead, you can dare to attend nontraditional trade shows you might not otherwise attempt.

4. The Future Is Green

Compared to traditional trade shows, virtual trade shows are greener. Lowering environmental impact is an increasingly important goal for many companies. Tax incentives for cutting fuel costs are also likely to increase, making virtual exhibits an even more attractive proposition.

5. Follow That Lead!

Traditional trade shows often generate exciting leads. Unfortunately, 80% of those leads are never followed up a statistic bound to discourage the most enthusiastic marketing professional. The reasons are myriad: disconnects between marketing and sales departments, the difficulties of reading handscribbled names and addresses, the tedium of entering contact information by hand into databases.

However, virtual trade shows collect the data for you and most include builtin lead management software. Suddenly tracking those leads becomes simple. In addition, many systems offer tags so you can make notes on attendees or companies, making it easy to follow up. You can also keep tabs on both staff and attendee activities.

Virtual trade show systems generally allow you to run analytics as soon as the show is over. Instead of entering all the data separately, the virtual trade show tracks and analyzes it for you. Youll be able to start following up leads immediately, which can greatly improve your return on investment.

6. Market to the TwentyFirst Century Customer

Most important of all, virtual trade shows will help you reach out to the digital generation. Over time, more and more corporate decision makers will be at least as comfortable with the virtual world as they are with text on a page.

Already members of the digital generation are taking over key positions in government and business. President Obamas transition team was cochaired by a Wharton professor distinguished not only for his scholarship but for his skill at World of Warcraft, a virtual raiding game. Plenty of people now in their thirties could use a mouse before they could clutch a pencil, and they spend their spare time on Second Life and other virtual realms. A virtual trade show will seem as natural to them as the telephone does to older people.

This demographic trend is bound to continue. Gaining experience now in the virtual world will give you an edge in marketing to this vast demographic.

The virtual trade show may never completely replace the great exhibit halls. Facetoface contact is just too essential for many people. However, a wise marketing professional will use this exciting new technology to reach out to customers. Its one more tool in your arsenal, and you can use it effectively to improve your companys bottom line.