Are Virtual Trade Shows Actually Worth It?

When circumstances and technology intersect, beautiful things can emerge. In the world of business, consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been mitigated time and time again with smart technology solutions. One such solution is virtual trade shows.

At first, when air travel was halted and large physical gatherings were not permitted, trade shows were flat-out cancelled. A few months into our collective new reality, 

a novel breed of trade shows has emerged and is quickly gaining popularity. Companies, whole industries, and trade show organizers jumped on the virtual trade show bandwagon, and suddenly they are everywhere! But is the concept worth it?

We all understand the irreplaceable and irrefutable benefits of meeting others in person. There is nothing quite like speaking with a prospect directly, shaking hands, looking someone in the eye, demonstrating a product in person, and engaging in friendly conversations while walking through a packed conference hall. Alas, current circumstances due to COVID-19 limit our ability to do so… but it is not all bad.

Virtual trade shows are online events held on a cloud-hosted software platform that can be accessed using any web-enabled device. Although exhibitors and attendees are not physically next to each other, game-like software is able to bridge the geographic separation and bring them together. Since this is a relatively new concept, let’s examine how these virtual trade shows work.
When an attendee logs into a virtual trade show portal, she or he might see what looks like the entrance to an actual trade show, complete with options like navigating to different parts of the show or gathering information by clicking on items of interest.

After entering an area of the show, such as the exhibit hall, the attendee will choose what or whom to visit. Depending on the platform design, this might be done by ‘walking’ down the aisles, or by choosing from a list, a map, or some other graphical representation of the virtual experience.

The real ‘magic’ happens when the attendee chooses a booth to visit! By just clicking or selecting items on the display, the attendee can interact with the exhibitor. Here are some of the most common options trade show platforms make available in virtual exhibit booths:

  • Signs
  • Rotating banners
  • Live video chats, messaging, and email exchanges between exhibitor and visitors, either one-on-one or in groups
  • Live chats, messaging, and email exchanges among different visitors to the same booth, either one-on-one or in groups
  • Video displays that play instantly right ‘in the booth’
  • Collateral for viewing and downloading (including documents, graphics, and videos)
  • Call to action buttons to take advantage of promotional pricing, win prizes, etc.
  • Direct link to the exhibitor’s social media
  • Live web conferencing for presentations (using Zoom or similar platforms)
  • To encourage participation, visitors can earn points for every interaction throughout the show for a chance to win prizes

From an exhibitor’s perspective, not only is it great to have the ability to interact with visitors at this level, but since everything is done digitally, that means everything is tracked, documented, and reported. And if you have ever exhibited in an actual trade show, you know how challenging this is. Here is the information that is typically offered to exhibitors after the virtual trade show: 

  • Exhibit collateral and presentations, as well as other materials and exhibitor contact information, might be available to the public for long periods of time after the show end date by logging onto the show portal
  • Every visitor to the booth is documented and recorded, as is every selection they make, activity they participate in, document they download, and so on; it is all then made available to the exhibitors for follow-up

As you can see, there are a lot of advantages and important benefits to exhibiting in virtual trade shows. If you take into account that these virtual events require no travel costs, no hotel bills, no meal expenses, and no days out of the office, there are some real ‘bottom line’ considerations – not only to you as an exhibitor, but also to attendees. In other words, virtual trade shows may bring in more attendees to your booth than the traditional ‘real’ ones!

Whether ‘real’ or virtual, trade shows require meticulous preparation and well-planned follow ups. We help our clients successfully execute dozens of trade shows each year, and we can do the same for you. Call us or send us a message, and we will be happy to chat with you about your trade show needs.

Duke Merhavy, MBA, Ph.D.
President & Chief Marketing Officer

6 Tips to Reuse Your Content for Marketing

By Anna Kunz, Manager of Marketing Services

What platforms do you use to consume information? There are newspapers, flyers, websites, endless scrolling on social media, in-person experiences, and deliveries to your email inbox and mailbox. The ways modern society gains knowledge are endless, and the information arrives at an alarming rate.

As your company develops its messaging, you cannot expect your audience to exert a lot of effort to seek and interpret it. There is so much information available out there, and we are all bombarded more than ever by content that screams for our attention. Simply stated, the human mind defaults to the easiest message to find and understand. To cut through the clutter, you must be concise and provide clear intent of what you want your target market to know.

Your streamlined message can be ‘recycled’, repurposed, and reused several times. You can easily breathe new life into the assets you have already created and make something new.

6 ways you could be reusing your content:

1. Turn your website’s content into social media posts
2. Place content from collateral (like flyers) into content for other platforms
3. Modify and optimize your message to the platform you place it on
4. Turn content into an engagement experience
5. Create a simple video message from information on a flyer, website, email, or social media post
6. Create an infographic to explain concepts elsewhere expressed verbally

You don’t always have to create completely new messages or content – you might already have information you can modify and tweak to reach greater audiences in ways that they have not been exposed to before.

At Fractional CMO & Marketing, we have the expertise to guide you through maximizing the benefit of content across multiple channels. We can help you utilize what you already have, as well as develop new materials to drive engagement and generate more leads than ever before.

What Is Fractional CMO & Marketing?

Fractional CMO & Marketing is ‘Your Outsource Marketing Department’ when you need expert marketing leadership and marketing services to accelerate growth and improve profitability, but you’re not quite ready to hire a full-time Chief Marketing Officer or your own marketing department. Our unique arrangement is the most efficient, innovative, and cost-effective formula for you. Click on the image to the left to watch a short video.

We Help When You Need To:

  • Generate more of the right kind of leads
  • Close more sales faster
  • Get repeat sales
  • Formulate a more effective message
  • Produce powerful sales tools

  • Establish brand awareness, recognition, and preference
  • Differentiate your brand from the competition
  • Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Develop lasting relationships with customers
  • Introduce new products

The North Face Hack of Wikipedia

By Polly Stroup, Editor and Copywriter

When it comes to vacation destination research and planning, Google is a good place to start. More than likely, one of the top listings to pop up in a search for any exotic location is a link to a Wikipedia page. The Brazil division of outdoor clothing company The North Face capitalized on this in an effort to keep its name top of mind with adventurers considering a destination boasting excursions in the great outdoors.

Founded in the US, The North Face started as a retailer of climbing gear before branching out into clothing. The brand, along with its ad agency Leo Burnett Tailor Made, took professional photos of models wearing North Face products while trekking around famous travel spots across the globe.

In the spring of 2019, they then replaced the images on the corresponding Wikipedia page with their specifically curated images of those locations. The models clad in North Face gear now appeared on the top of Google image search results when consumers researched these destinations, and as far as the retailer was concerned, it was mission accomplished!

One would hope an established company that had retained a professional, well-respected marketing firm, or at least the marketing firm itself, would carefully consider potential repercussions before launching a campaign that essentially hacked a worldwide free source encyclopedia. Unfortunately, in this case, one would be disappointed.

The Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees the online encyclopedia, had a stern response, stating that the campaign creators had “unethically manipulated Wikipedia”, and the act of doing so was “akin to defacing public property”. The goal of Wikipedia and its countless volunteer worldwide editors and contributors is to provide neutral, fact-based information. The foundation admonished The North Face, stating “adding content that is solely for commercial promotion goes directly against the policies, purpose, and mission of Wikipedia to provide neutral, fact-based knowledge to the world”. It’s been over a year since the stunt, but questionable marketing decisions, like this example by The North Face, live on in infamy, thanks to the Internet.

Edgy Marketing: How to Do it Well

“Fortune favors the bold, but abandons the timid.”

By Ginger Mace, Editor and Producer

Edgy marketing has been successfully used by many brands, especially in the past ten or so years. The rise of YouTube, Google AdWords, and social media brought ways for companies to push their messaging out to the masses easily, quickly, and more cheaply than traditional advertising methods.

Videos in particular have become very popular with brands looking to create unconventional and memorable ads, with “going viral” being a goal. Any form of content can “go viral”, and while most think of videos when they hear the term, it could be an article, tweet, quote, idea, promo code, photo, and more – it has the ability to go viral if it can be shared and resonates with enough people.

Unfortunately, some of the attempts to be provocative were shared worldwide for all the wrong reasons. Let’s focus on one type of content that could go viral. What should a company keep in mind when creating edgy video marketing?

Understand Your Target Market
Whether your intended audience cares about saving money, convenience, or using products with natural ingredients should guide the content of your message. This is true for any marketing, but using targeted Facebook ads, and video tags or hashtags makes it much easier to push your video to your prospects. The more you know about them, the better chance you have of not only getting your content to them, but of creating content they will feel compelled to share as well.

Don’t Be Shy
“Fortune favors the bold, but abandons the timid.” So does the internet. If your product has benefits or features that have conventionally been discussed using timid phrases, don’t dance around – embrace the truth! This will make your company and product more relatable to your audience, giving your content a better chance of racking up the views and shares.

In September 2009, Orabrush spent $500 to produce a YouTube video for their tongue scraper. Titled “Bad Breath Test – How to Tell When Your Breath Stinks”, the video was just over two minutes long, and demonstrated how to use a spoon to see if you have the issue. The video opened with discussing halitosis and halitophobia. The video went on to educate viewers, sharing that 90% of bad breath comes from bacteria on the tongue. After explaining why other oral care products wouldn’t solve the problem, more benefits and features of the Orabrush were discussed, in addition to the actor showing how to use it. The video quickly garnered 18 million views (it’s at 26 million currently), and Orabrush arrived in national retail chains shortly thereafter. This $500 well-made video, that frankly discussed something unpleasant we have all encountered, did exponentially more for Dr Bob Wagstaff’s Orabrush than the $40,000 he invested in a TV informercial, which resulted in only 100 orders.

Humor Goes A Long Way
Most companies with a mission to go viral use comedy in their quest, but few have done it better than Poo~Pourri. The business formulates and sells sprays made of natural ingredients, the purpose of which is to create an oil-based film on the surface of water in the toilet, thereby trapping any unpleasant odors. The best way – and perhaps the only way – to discuss such an embarrassing, personal fact of life, that no one wants to acknowledge even happens, is to attack it with humor. They do just that, and very well. The branding and messaging the company uses, from the names of the scents to the slogans on shirts they sell, lets you know they fully embrace the reality of their product and the problem it solves. They disarm discomfort with clever humor. Word of mouth was the main form of marketing Poo~Pourri for years, but that all changed with their 2013 YouTube video. Not only did the content address what happens in the bathroom, but that it happens when women go in there too. Completely over the top, funny, and also unprecedented and unexpected, the video was viewed over 17 million times in its first month (currently, there are over 43 million views). Just seven short months after the video debuted, Poo~Pourri could be found in 9000 locations of national chain stores, and by the beginning of 2016, over 17 million bottles of the spray had been sold. The company went on to create an in-house production agency, and the viral videos kept coming – 350 million views later, over 60 million bottles have been sold.

Break the Mold
Being just like “the other guys” won’t bring a brand virality. In addition to the other pointers to keep in mind, uniqueness is important as well. Dollar Shave Club, a monthly subscription by mail service offering razors and other grooming products, changed the way men (and now women too) think about and purchase razors. It’s not only the visuals in the YouTube videos and TV commercials that grabbed viewers’ attention – the verbiage used, sarcasm, and overall demeanor of the gentleman featured (who also happens to be the company co-owner and CEO Michael Dubin) hit home, and online audiences hit share…a lot. The first video, which now stands at over 26 million views, was uploaded in March 2012, and resulted in 12,000 orders in two days, an AdAge Viral Video Award, and a Webby Award. Their next viral video in 2013 won an award for best use of social media. The company’s nonchalant attitude struck a chord, and Dollar Shave Club continues to expand its product line and enjoy success.

Be Ready for Going Viral
Success on Groupon is not exactly the same thing as content going viral, but it offers examples of virality, albeit offline, handled poorly. Bringing many customers to companies quickly using deeply discounted offers is Groupon’s niche. While it sounds amazing, many businesses who signed up to be featured on the website simply could not serve the onslaught of customers, or the loss the company took to get these customers in the door was not recouped because the patrons did not come back as repeat business.

Another illustration of the need for a company to be ready for sudden success comes from the popular TV show Shark Tank. After their episodes of the show airs, business owners often report their websites and online stores crashed from the amount of traffic trying to access them. In some cases, there wasn’t enough inventory to fulfill all the orders, and customers weren’t happy with indefinite backorders.

While predicting whether content will go viral is not really possible, it’s important to be prepared with a plan regardless, to shine the best light on your company and brand. Watch your content’s metrics and insights closely so you can spot trends early enough to be ready for them. The goodwill a viral video creates can be quickly undone if the prospective customer encounters unanswered emails and phone calls, or errors when trying to access your website. Another aspect of being prepared is planning your next content moves. Many of the most successful viral videos are actually part of a series telling a story or have a running theme. In the case of Dollar Shave Club, for instance, the company’s CEO is always featured and has the same “devil may care”, take-it-or-leave-it attitude.

Edgy marketing done just for the sake of doing something unusual is often obvious and doesn’t deliver the results companies expect or hope for. When done mindfully and correctly, an unconventional approach can bring a business success. If you’d like to make a splash with distinctive, unique, creative marketing content, reach out to us today.

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