Posted by: Dennis Shiao | October 13, 2009

5 Common Mistakes By Virtual Tradeshow Exhibitors (And How To Fix Them)

by Bill M via Flickr

by Bill M via Flickr

In working with numerous virtual tradeshow exhibitors, I’ve witnessed some common mistakes – I believe that these mistakes can impact an exhbitor’s Return On Investment (ROI) for the virtual event.  The good news is that we’re here to help.  So if your prior virtual tradeshow resulted in low attendee engagement – or, a low number of actionable leads, read further for tips and tactics to use at your next event.

5 Common Mistakes – Virtual Tradeshow Exhibitors

  1. Assume that visitors will naturally engage (proactively) with your booth staffers – first, understand that the dynamics of a virtual trade show are different than a physical trade show.  In a physical event, you can (at minimum) make eye contact with a visitor to your booth.  From here, you can gauge the visitor’s interest in speaking further and determine whether you want to strike up a conversation.  You don’t get the same sort of signal in a virtual event.  However, leaving your booth is but a single mouse click away – so if you do nothing, there’s a chance that your visitor will depart and never return.  What I like to do is welcome visitors by way of your booth’s Group Chat – letting them know that you’re there to answer any questions they may have.  Alternatively, send them a vCard (virtual business card) with your contact info – inviting them to contact you at any time (within the event or via email/phone).  Don’t assume that visitors will engage with you – instead, utilize proactive means for reaching out to them.
  2. Fail to have product experts staff your booth – in a b-to-b event, your booth may receive visits from qualified buyers – folks with purchasing authority and budget who are finalizing their short list of solutions vendors.  They’re likely to have some detailed product questions to help them narrow their list.  If your booth is staffed with sales and marketing staff who are unable to answer product-level questions, then you’re missing out on a great opportunity.  If instead, you had product experts staffing your booth (e.g. product manager, sales engineer, technical engineering manager, etc.) – they can engage with these prospects and provide them with all the information they need.  Leverage your product experts, as they’ll move prospects down the sales funnel along the way to a purchasing decision.
  3. Fail to visit the event’s Lounge – not satisfied with the number of visits to your booth?  Go find the attendees in areas where they tend to congregate, such as the Networking Lounge.  Send your marketers into the lounge to observe the chatter.  Then, send your product experts in to help attendees and address/answer their questions.  Notice that I mentioned “help” and not “sell” – you don’t want to pitch your product in the Lounge (that’s another mistake by exhibitors) – instead, you want to demonstrate thought leadership in a way that attracts attention to your company (and then on to your booth!).
  4. Fail to host a presentation/webinar – if the event host allows exhibitors the option of spending extra for a webinar, it’s well worth the investment.  As the exhbitor, you then become part of the event’s agenda and gain the attention of a captive audience for 30-60 minutes.  Have a well-known industry name (whether from your own company or from an analyst firm) as a speaker in your webinar – and invite viewers to your virtual tradeshow booth afterwards if they have additional questions.  In one virtual tradeshow I attended, an exhibitor’s expert speaker delivered a great webinar, then spent the remainder of the day engaging with attendees in his own booth, along with the Lounge.  That exhibitor achieved the highest count of booth visits during the event.
  5. Fail to follow up promptly and appropriately with attendees – if you sourced some “hot” prospects at the virtual event, follow up with them right away (e.g. the next business day).  Your follow-up should be meaningful – if the prospect asked for product or pricing information, send her an email with all of the requested details.  Do NOT hand hot prospects over to tele-sales or send them vanilla emails about the virtual event – rather, provide compelling touchpoints that are tailored to that prospect’s interactions with you.  If the prospect engaged with a product expert, Cc that expert on the email!

We can’t un-do the past, but we certainly can learn from it.  Let us know which of these tactics work for you at your next virtual tradeshow!

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5 Mistakes of #Virtual Tradeshow Exhibitors by @dshiao via @InXpo blog: #eventprofs


  1. […] 5 Common Mistakes By Virtual Tradeshow Exhibitors (And How To Fix Them) « InXpo (tags: virtualtradeshow) […]

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