With more and more companies looking to stretch their marketing dollars, virtual trade shows are becoming commonplace for a multitude of industries. Virtual trade shows look and function like real trade shows, but take place in cyberspace. The online venue may even be designed to look like a convention center, complete with a lobby, lounge and exhibit hall featuring a variety of booths from exhibitors in various industries.
Many of the benefits of virtual trade shows work to the advantage of companies with smaller budgets who cannot always afford the expensive (but necessary) task of attending actual events. Larger companies tend to have a clear advantage in that they can afford the extra costs for premium booth space, podium presentation time, and top advertising on event programs and banners. The cost of this level of participation can sometimes be upwards of $100,000. Virtual shows offer much smaller entry fees for exhibitors, and little to no entry fee for attendees.
While many of the benefits of these shows are monetary, there are several other reasons to consider exhibiting in or attending a virtual trade show. Exhibitors may track materials that have been downloaded by visitors, giving them a better idea of what marketing messages are more effective than others. Virtual trade shows also cut down on travel time and costs. Since you can run your booth and attend others with the click of a mouse, you are free to do this from anywhere in the world. Virtual trade shows are becoming an attractive “green” alternative to real trade shows.
Despite all of the benefits of holding and attending virtual trade shows, there are a few down sides. First of all, networking opportunities are much more limited when you are not actually walking the aisles of a show, bumping into possible new clients and business contacts. While there are opportunities to “socialize” in the virtual realm, a conversation through an instant message format doesn’t compare to a professional face-to-face conversation. The lack of physical presence also prevents any opportunities to touch and experiment with new products.
If you tend to get easily distracted, virtual trade shows may not be for you. Staying immersed in the show and not in other activities or work can be difficult, as Facebook and email are only a click away.
With more and more businesses increasing the level of technology and “greenness” in their offices, virtual trade shows continue to become more popular. However, depending on the personality of your company and the nature of your products or services, the informal and hands-off environment may or may not be ideal.
When it comes to participating in real trade shows, take this into consideration: a survey was conducted that determined the average cost to contact a prospect in the field was $308 where the average cost to contact a prospect who visited your trade show booth was $212 – about 45% less than field sales. We hope this overview was beneficial in helping you determine if virtual or real trade shows are the way to go for your company.
SOURCE: Rachael Hill, Map-Dynamics.com