5 Steps to Crush Virtual Trade Shows

We like to keep our ear to the ground, listening closely to industry trends so we can better help promotional products businesses thrive. Lately, one trend has been on everyone’s mind—virtual expos.

The popularity of digital trade shows continues to grow in a COVID world, and with the trend about to hit one of the biggest events in our industry, exhibitors are left asking, “How can I make a virtual expo just as successful as in person events?” 

We asked ourselves the same thing when PPAI announced that they were shifting to a virtual model they called Expo Direct-2-You.

Since we are all about giving suppliers and distributors the inside scoop, we thought we’d help you prepare to crush the PPAI Expo Direct-2-You along with any other virtual events you attend in 2021.

Appointments, Appointments, Appointments.

Start with a goal. In the virtual expo ecosystem, suppliers have one objective in the weeks leading up to the virtual event—appointments.

With thousands of virtual attendees bouncing around between chat rooms and discussions, it’s important to secure 1:1 time with the people you want to do business with the most.

This can’t be a last-minute effort. Your business deserves a full marketing strategy that will secure those appointments long before anyone hops on their computer and turns on their webcam.

We’ve broken it down to the basics below:  

1. Prep Your Digital Assets

Before you can start contacting leads, you should have your digital assets ready. That means pulling together a collection of digital catalogs and flyers that you’ll put in front of distributors.

Once you’ve collected your materials, put them all in one place on ZOOMcatalog. Your booth visitors will be able to browse through your product selection and share their favorites with their teams regardless of where they are in the world.

To help maximize your exposure at PPAI’s Expo Direct-2-You, we’re offering a “digital booth sign” where ZOOMcatalog customers will be able to house all of their digital materials in a single online location.

2. Set Up Your Digital Booth

Just like your in-person booth, this is the place where customers come to get an understanding of who you are and what you have to offer. Making sure you’re set up for success is important for when those customers come flooding through the virtual doors.

In the case of PPAI’s Expo Direct-2-You, there are five key  items exhibitors need to have ready for their digital booth including: a logo, a welcome video, marketing materials (catalogs, flyers, brochures, etc.), an introduction message, and a booth icon.

(Follow the instructions in the official exhibitor kit or watch the full video explaining everything you need to set up a digital booth at PPAI Direct-2-You)

Now that your booth is prepped, it’s time to go out and get those appointments you’re looking for.

3. Create An Email Campaign

The email inbox is where you can win loads of potential appointments, but this time of year, distributors’ inboxes are flooded with “visit our booth” emails. Stand out from the crowd by using this email campaign as an idea starter that you drop in your distributors laps.

Consider what makes your products or services unique and craft a digital flyer that focuses on one single aspect of your business. Maybe it’s your robust drop-shipping program, a unique imprinting method, exclusive seasonal items that people can’t resist, or another value added service. Whatever you choose, make sure it inspires their imagination, then use that spark of inspiration to invite them to talk. This stirs interest without making you sound like a salesperson.

Now that they’re curious, hit them with that call to action to schedule an appointment with you at the expo.

We like to use Calendly as our go-to tool for scheduling appointments. It’s simple and integrates well with our calendar. These links can also be added to the exhibitor listings page manually through the PPAI Exhibitor Resource Center or my emailing expositions@ppai.org. For more ideas on running a successful email campaign, hop over to this article for clear steps.

4. Craft Social Campaigns

Social media posts are the sprinkles on top of your virtual expo marketing cake. They are the small reminders that meet potential customers where they are and keep your name top of mind as the expo comes closer.

Whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter, tease your followers with previews of your booth and snippets of your digital catalogs and flyers.  Follow those up with clear and concise copy that calls them to schedule an appointment with your team before the expo.

Also, try out a Facebook or Instagram paid lead advertisement. Oftentimes ads can prove to be the difference when it comes to spreading the word about your epic booth at a virtual expo. The beauty of a lead ad is that distributors can provide their information on Facebook or Instagram without leaving the platform. 

If you’ve never run a Facebook ad campaign  before, or you just want a refresher, here’s a step-by-step guide to crafting a killer Facebook ad.

5. Drop A Press Release

A press release is another great option for securing appointments at a virtual expo.

Use your press release to focus on new and unique products, or a sale or special offer, and then mention that they can learn more at the expo. Then, make sure to include a link to your scheduling tool so they can cement that appointment.

Remember, appointments are the goal for virtual expos, but not everyone has the time to set one up. A press release can help you spread the word beyond the people already planning to attend the show. That said, always encourage attendees to pop in at any time and chat with you.

That’s a lot to take in, but using some or all of these tactics will help land the appointments you’re wanting for this virtual expos this year. Use them to drive people toward your schedule and secure your appointments long before you ever enter the virtual doors of any event

If you’re wondering how you can use digital catalogs and flyers to fuel the growth of your business in 2021, schedule a time to meet with us at PPA Expo Direct-2-You in January and we will get you on the right track for success. See you there!