How to Best Help Sponsors and Attendees Succeed at Virtual Events

“The more interactivity you put into any of these [virtual events], the better and the more effective it’s going to be,” said Ben Hindman, CEO of events marketing platform Splash. The Atlantic Festival, their big event of the year, will try to accomplish this by including smaller breakout sessions and 20-person roundtables during the daytime portions of the festival to give attendees the chance to speak directly to the presenters and the editors, according to Digiday.
But that interactivity is crucial for exhibitors and vendors as well. A new report from Tradeshow Logic titled Redefining Value for Today’s Exhibitors & Sponsors (download free here) suggests that organizations need to help their exhibitors and vendors to succeed. “Even though virtual platforms are touted as ‘turnkey,’ they still require significant marketing and promotion investment from your exhibitors and sponsors [and you] in order to get a worthwhile return,” the report notes.
Over a 2-week period in May 2020, Tradeshow Logic surveyed 13,435 individuals at companies that exhibit at and sponsor events across diverse industries. Here are some findings and ways you can help your sponsors and attendees to succeed virtually:
Choose your platform with care. “Show organizers need to employ the same rigor for developing a virtual event’s commercial value propositions as they do for a live event. Develop goals, objectives and a strategic plan before selecting a digital platform. Like venues, not all platforms are created equal and it’s important to find one that meets the organization’s unique needs.”
Remember, this is a different game. “A virtual/digital event should not try to replicate a face-to-face event, but instead act as a new form of engagement that permanently augments the promotion of all future conferences/tradeshows.” Think about what digital is good at—looking up information quickly; taking quizzes and voting on polls; watching demos.
Have help ready. Make sure you, your virtual platform provider and/or an external resource are prepared to offer tutorials, detailed run-throughs and a virtual concierge to assist with the technical aspects of your event.
How’s your 3D? New product promotion and introduction is one of the three most important tools of engagement for exhibitors and sponsors. They still want to engage as much as possible in conversation. “They’re concerned about the loss of the physical interaction that allowed customers to see and touch products. Implementing a live demonstration or 3D video component in your virtual event experience is important and will be well received by your exhibitors and sponsors.”
Schedule time for attendees to meet with exhibitors. It’s important that your virtual event allow for as much networking and ‘face-to-face’ time as possible. Just like a live event, ensure that there are adequate opportunities for attendees to listen to industry education, view product demonstrations or meet in a group or individually with exhibitors and sponsors.
Maximize face-to-face time. Direct interaction with potential customers matters for exhibitors at virtual events, who want to offer education or product demos to attendees. Give them some choices to how they want to engage with attendees.
Make the value of participating clear. Exhibitors want to gain leads and make sales, and they’re not sure a virtual experience can deliver them. Articulating how those results are possible will help ensure exhibitor investment, the report says.
Engagement should take place before, during and after. If you’ve ever been to a live taping of a talk or game show, there’s usually a person on the stage to get the audience excited and ready to engage. You may need something or someone similar for your event—perhaps a webinar a week before or a 5-minute motivational talk to start each event day. And then after, when your content is on demand, don’t expect attendees to just flock there. Encourage it, advertise it, remind them. Have roundtables or articles that send them there.
Again download the report here.

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