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Virtual Trade Show Prospecting

Virtual Trade Show Prospecting — Up Your Game

With COVID-19 ruining everyone’s on-site trade show plans this year, and most trade shows going virtual for the foreseeable future, what are you doing to attract attention to your “booth?” Catching the eye of attendees is hard enough with a physical booth — even one with whiz bang graphics and a large footprint. I am certain it becomes more challenging once the booth is reduced to graphics on a screen.

At a physical trade show right before the March shutdown, I witnessed one company grab more attention (and visitors) than anyone around them. I am confident this tactic would translate well to a virtual environment. If you are intrigued, read on.

Making Energy Fun

The event was a multi-sector industry trade show in my hometown. An old client, whose products interested me on a personal level, had a booth at the event. I wanted to say hello.

When I arrived, I saw that his booth was attractive, and his location was good. His salespeople were doing a great job of scanning the landscape, attempting to catch the eye of anyone who strode past. Once they caught someone’s attention, they approached and engaged them quickly.

However, after 10 minutes, I could see that many attendees didn’t even glance at the booth as they strode by. If the salespeople approached then, they declined to chat. I suggested they move an interesting tabletop display to the front of the booth, and that helped a little, but not much.

I took a stroll to see who was capturing more visitors and found an answer a few booths away from our client. A start-up energy provider had designed a fun, interactive game that was attracting visitors in droves. It let them see how much energy they could save by using his solution, which he then translated into real-world value. The booth had a long line of people waiting to play.

I don’t know if this company closed any deals that day, but I saw a lot of visitors picking up cards and brochures — and all their salesmen were engaged in lively conversation with attendees who had completed the game.

I said to myself, “Congrats, XYZ company, for making your sales pitch fun.”

Virtual Reality Comes into Play

Within a week of that event, the pandemic exploded, and trade shows were put on hold or postponed. Eventually, many trade shows found their footing with virtual conferences, leaving participants to develop virtual booths if they so desired.

I’ve seen a few of these, and one was pretty interesting. “Attendees” signed up for a visit and were sent a link, valid during the conference. Clicking it logged them into a virtual booth where an avatar could cruise around and view “displays.” Each place they stopped, a pop-up with information would appear on the visitor’s PC screen. After the event, the firm sent attendees a follow-up sales email.

I tried it, and it was pretty engaging. I could see that a lot of effort went into it. However, I also realized that the game experience I had witnessed earlier in the year could easily have been virtualized. I wondered if such a fun, interactive experience would have kept visitors in the booth longer, potentially resulting in increased email response.

Virtual conferences and booths are still in their nascence, so I can’t offer stats to prove games would increase engagement or help close deals. However, game-like experiences are already used in many situations where companies want to incent visitor or client input. (I’ve personally used them for healthcare input.)

Furthermore, I am confident that an informative conference booth game helped one energy provider make it to the leaderboard.

This post is courtesy of MMC Content Manager Jennifer Farwell.

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