Diane Giannini
Web Publisher

virtual events are both an alternative and a complement to traditional face-to-face trade shows
Virtual Events Are Replacing Traditional Trade Shows
by Diane Giannini
April 24th, 2008
This post is filed under the following categories:
Events, Lead Generation, Websites
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Actually, that is not true at all.

Have you ridden the virtual wave yet? While the concept of virtual trade shows has been around for the last eight years, they have become increasingly prevalent in the last 12 months. More and more marketers and end users are finding that these virtual events are both an alternative and a complement to traditional face-to-face trade shows.

Alternative to face-to-face events

  • Cost savings

As a marketer, virtual events provide an alternative to high-cost face-to-face trade shows. In the virtual world, marketers will experience savings associated with travel, shipping, and out-of-office costs typically associated with face-to-face seminars.

  • Lead generation

Virtual events offer ongoing lead generation by providing access to your content throughout the duration of the on-demand environment.

  • Global reach

This environment provides sponsorship of an all-day event with global reach without flying colleagues around the world.

  • Robust reporting
    • The virtual environments today offer sophisticated user tracking and reporting tools to provide you with more information than you could get from a face-to-face seminar.
    • We have all seen those shy attendees who walk by our booth, reach in for collateral and our chachki gift and then walk away. Well — if you don’t get access to the attendee database, there goes a potential sales lead for you. This is not the case in the virtual world. Each time a user “walks” into your booth, there is a record of this activity. If he/she downloads your content it is captured and reported to you. The control is in your hands now. You will know all the users’ activity as it relates to your offerings throughout the virtual day.

Complement to face-to-face events

  • Expanding audience reach

The costs associated with traditional seminars make it cost prohibitive to schedule one in each geographic region. As we all know, seminars never quite reach all the regions where we are trying to increase sales prospects. Here is where virtual events offer a solution. While the regional seminars offer selected geographic reach, the virtual events offer a low-cost solution that provides global reach.

  • Establish face-to-face contact where possible

Never dismiss the importance and results achieved from face-to-face contact. While a significant portion of the world today relies on chat functionalities, emails, text messaging, and now virtual environments as a means to communicate — there are still many people out there who truly make that connection only through face-to-face events.

  • Maintaining your brand
    • Don’t underestimate the message your company communicates simply by participating in a face-to-face or an online virtual event. I have heard from many users over the years that they question why certain companies are no longer exhibiting at face-to-face events. It leads to questions of stability and market leadership. I foresee these questions applying to the virtual world soon enough.
    • As more users adopt virtual events as an easy way to research information and interact with industry experts, they are going to want to see that key players are participating. And if you aren’t there, someone else will be waiting to chat to them in the lounge or in their booth about their challenges and possible solutions.
    • As more and more vendors leverage these virtual events to reach their target audience, it is going to become even more important that you maintain or increase your market share by participating. If you aren’t a player in the virtual event, then another sponsor will fill their sales pipeline with a prospect that could have been yours.

Deciding which vehicle is better

I would propose that one isn’t necessarily better than the other, and that both, if feasible, should be included in your marketing plan. As you think about the audience you are trying to reach, you need to come to the realization that not everyone can take one or two days out of the office to attend events.

For the users — virtual events offer the attendee the flexibility of participating right from their own desk. This increasingly popular virtual environment gives more options to your potential sales prospect. Gone are the days where users had to decide if they had the time to leave the office. Now, this world brings it right to them. They can hop in and out of the environment based on their schedule. They can attend sessions, visit booths and network with peers all from the convenience of their desktop.

For the marketer — virtual events offer you savings in cost and time. How many times have you heard from your colleagues that they don’t have time to man a booth all day, requesting you find someone else. Well, here is a solution. The virtual event allows you to stagger booth reps throughout the day, so as not to burden any one person throughout.


2 Responses to “Virtual Events Are Replacing Traditional Trade Shows”

  1. Gina Peter Says:

    The author is absolutely correct. Virtual events are certainly an integrated part of my companies marketing plans and will remain to be. Aside from the cost and time savings, with these events, you do receive real names of people interested in the technology topic and assumingly the type of products you sell. This is a huge advantage virtual events have over some other media that do not provide leads. Another consideration is that these events have longevity. They can be linked from your website so not only will leads be generated with the first registration of the live event but you can also attract new leads with the archived version of the event. The author was very insightful and I thoroughly agree with the points she made.

  2. [email protected] Says:


    Thanks for the feeback and your opinion. Diane has a great amount of experience and we are excited to start bringing virtual events to our markets.

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