It’s the talk of 2020. Virtual exhibitions and events have filled your calendar. And as an entrepreneur, you’re probably thinking you should get involved.
If trade shows have long been part of your marketing strategy, exhibiting at a virtual trade show might seem like the obvious thing to do. But have you thought about how to get people to visit your stand?
It has been a difficult year for all of us. Marketing has never been more important. However, we don’t want you to throw your marketing budget away on a whim.
In this article, you will discover the three main mistakes made by virtual exhibitors. These are things you want to avoid if you’ve booked a booth at a virtual fair.
What is a virtual exhibition?
Trade shows are industry-specific events that allow companies to showcase their products or services to a targeted audience. People visit exhibits to find new suppliers or companies to work with.
These shows attract a large international audience. The UK’s largest venue, NEC Birmingham, boasts over 182,000 m² and can accommodate over 100,000 people.
Virtual exhibits offer the same experience but in an online environment. Businesses use virtual exhibition stands to highlight their products and services to a niche audience.
Visitors access the digital environment and can move from one virtual stand to another. There is also the option to book one-to-one meetings via video call and attend webinars and keynotes.
Aren’t we going hybrid?
Hybrid events are fast becoming the “new normal,” but we still have a long way to go before big gatherings can take place in person. The exhibition industry will shift to a hybrid format with each event having an online presence and a physical presence.
This is for two reasons.
First, the fairs attract an international audience. Travel restrictions and local lockdowns will make this impossible for the first half of 2021. The inclusion of a virtual space for exhibitors to showcase their brand will increase visitor numbers, offering more value.
Secondly, there are things we liked about the virtual exhibits. From a visitor’s point of view, you have no travel costs or long lines for lunch. From an exhibitor’s perspective, it is easier to collect lead data for future marketing.
But there’s a problem
When the UK government banned mass gatherings, event planners switched to a virtual platform. Although the popularity of virtual events had grown steadily, the industry was not ready for such a big change.
The organizers promised the same experience one would expect from a crowded trade fair pavilion. Obviously this was not the case.
In the beginning, virtual events were new and exciting. But 300 Zoom meetings later people lost interest and visitor numbers started to decline. It became clear that virtual event organizers had to offer more.
Virtual exhibition stands
A virtual event is not the same as an in-person event. As with any comparison, it has advantages and disadvantages. Event organizers and exhibitors have been guilty of treating both types of entertainment equally.
While the organizers have started offering more content, exhibitors are still looking to build virtual exhibition stands. Literally. They ask for 3D interactive stand designs that are on a single domain. It was nice at first, but what’s the point?
An online environment offers exhibitors thousands of opportunities. However, they are trying to recreate what they did during the events in person over the course of their life.
And now they are wondering why nobody wants to visit their booth. These are the top three reasons why nobody wants to visit your virtual exhibition stand (and how to avoid them).
Because people won’t visit your virtual exhibition stand
If you have felt flat after a virtual trade show, you are not alone. The exhibitors weren’t ready for the virtual shift and everyone spent this year chasing the queue.
If you have a space reserved for an upcoming virtual exhibition, you are in luck. These are the three main mistakes exhibitors make when it comes to their virtual exhibition stand. Avoid them at all costs.
1. No pre-show marketing
Simply having a space in a virtual exhibition should not be considered marketing. You have a responsibility to tell people what show you are exhibiting at and to invite them to come and chat with you.