WEEK 7: NAVIGATING VIRTUAL TRADE SHOWS
- QUESTIONS & ANSWERS -
Q: What are your thoughts on the role virtual tradeshows will play in the overall tradeshow landscape as we mitigate COVID over the next 6 - 12 months?
JC: Based on feedback from brands, media, and organizers, the virtual show will dominate the landscape for the foreseeable future for safety reasons. As large in-person events become safe again, they will resume - but likely with a virtual component. As we live through quarantine, many people are finding new habits and behaviors they prefer over the way things used to be done, which will also be true of tradeshows. The best elements of both mediums are likely to be combined into superior hybrid events able to please a larger audience.
Follow up: Will these new tools and events that your all developing change the way we approach the value proposition of shows in the long term, even after the crisis is over?
JC: Absolutely. Determining the ROI of a physical show has long been the burden of show organizers. Having black and white data for your booth/material engagement will be a game changer.
Further, paying an exorbitant amount of money to build and ship a physical booth, being judged for what you wear in a conference environment, and flying across the country are all examples of physical show habits that will be reconsidered.
TO: Rob & Jenna
Q: What is the one piece of advice you would give to a startup as they prep for their presentation at a virtual media event.
JC: Make it human and don’t forget your “why”. Cool products saturate the market - there is no shortage. Passion and personality will be what set you apart, especially to media as they seek the story behind the product. Err on the side of vulnerability over a completely polished video or presentation. This is how you connect with an audience, even when a screen separates you. And remember to maintain your brand voice. If your brand is funny, be funny.
Follow up: One thing I’ve experienced in the digital shows I’ve attended thus far: Just holding up a sample and describing it falls flat. Should brands be investing in creating amped-up digital assets, like 360-degree product videos and detailed photos to use in these virtual show environments to pique the curiosity of journalists and retail buyer?
JC: Brands SHOULD definitely get creative. Absolutely. But this doesn’t mean investing a ton of money into equipment or corporate assets. A cell phone video of the product being used in action by real users, a humorous behind the scenes of the team at work, and some photos of the product in great lighting are all examples of ways to showcase the product. Use yourself as a use case...as you’re scrolling the internet, what types of photos or videos grab your attention?
Rob: can you tell us some of the secrets of success for the brands that held the most successful presentations at REVEAL?
I’d suggest brands have a laddered approach in regards to communicating their story.
Who they are - What they do - Backstory - Points of differentiation - How it fits into journalists’ interest - What’s next with R&D, product introduction
Make the call how deep the conversation goes depending on the level of interest of the crowd. At times there is no need for the backstory if time is short, jump right into the core of your offerings or tweak the delivery depending on the category (if tech, then spend more time on R&D, innovation - if lifestyle then pop up a level and explain how it fits in with life, cultures, etc.
Stay away from the heavy hand sales pitch - PPT slides miss the mark and unneeded assets that slow down the presentation is a deal-breaker.
Always put your self in the journalists’ shoes - they may not be interested in brand values, brand promise, etc.
Try not to have a script but have the 2-4 topics that you focus on - and circle back to the main point to ensure it’s clear.
It’s challenging, but do your best to have a conversation (natural tone) and be genuine - it will go a long way. In the end, if the journalists are interested they will follow up, they do not need to have the full download at the first touchpoint.
Invest in quality assets,3D modeling of the product was amazing to witness and really allowed the viewers to see the product in a different dimension.
Lastly, remember, everyone loves the spirit of making - be proud of what you’ve brought to the market - if you have the confidence, charisma and high stoke level the viewers will quickly understand you’re the real deal and want to learn more.
Q: Same question to you, For retail buyers specifically, how should brands adapt their presentations or what sort of assets or info should they include to stay relevant to buyers? for a virtual presentation to a retailer?
Q: The experience is a vital part of any event, and relationship building changes in a virtual event setting. What are ways a startup can create a memorable lasting impression in a virtual setting?
JC: The same way you can be memorable in a face to face dynamic: be a cool person.
People remember people that made them feel good. Go beyond the weather and ask someone what their passions are, the best project they’re working on, or where they grew up. Then listen. If you’re funny, be funny. I don’t know about you, but I follow a lot of online personalities (youtubers, instagrammers, podcasters…) that I find memorable and I want to hear more from, even though we’ve never met face to face.
It is not the digital barrier that will stop you connecting - people connecting meaningfully online every second. It’s people not willing to be themselves.
Q: Do virtual trade shows level the playing field for startups?
JC: Absolutely. Most virtual shows are more accessible from a pricing standpoint which allows companies with smaller marketing budgets (and no travel budget!) a seat at the table. The convenience also helps with workloads - many startup employees wear many hats and can’t take days off to attend physical tradeshows or their core work will suffer. With a virtual show, you can hop in and out as needed without disrupting urgent priorities.
RR: Yes, but only if they are in the right setting and aligned with stronger brands. If they are in a space with all start-ups then it could be challenging to make noise due to low awareness but if they are at the table of global, influential brands then by just being associated and in the same conversation elevates their game.