It is no surprise that COVID-19 has completely flipped the events world upside down throughout the past year. After a year of cancellations and reconstructing our lives to go digital, it seems like the world has gotten used to the idea of virtual events. While trade shows are slowly starting to take place in-person, virtual trade shows and events have proven to stick around post-pandemic for several reasons relating to time, money, and convenience. But still, virtual events will only continue to evolve, so flexibility and preparation are essential for an effective trade show marketing strategy. 

In part 2 of preparing your brand for trade show season, we’re diving into best practices and tips on preparing for virtual trade shows and events in 2021. 

Best practices & tips for virtual trade shows

The events industry as a whole has been drastically altered along with how event marketers provide brand experiences while social distancing mandates are in place. Without the costs of travel, hotel fees, or social outings, virtual trade shows offer a more budget-friendly and accessible alternative than in-person trade shows. A virtual trade show is an online trade show or event that allows exhibitors and visitors to connect and interact at virtual trade show booths or online meetings. With the cost-saving benefits, virtual trade shows and events will be here to stay. Here are some tips to keep in mind when attending virtual trade shows: 

1. Pre-show communications 

Since most events have gone digital, trade shows are more accessible to attend than ever before. It is critical to be proactive and keep clear communications to stand out from the crowd. One way to show how and why potential guests should attend your “booth” is by sharing preplanned e-blast alerts. In many cases, to entice visitors to view your brand, event organizers will share the pre-show attendee list that you can use to your advantage. You can also go beyond e-blasts by sending out your RangeMe profile along with a customized message to check out your brand at an upcoming virtual event through RangeMe Sharing. Other effective methods include product-relevant giveaways, sell sheets, and brochures that will creatively engage potential customers.

You can also try creating a microsite with an event-focused landing page as an effective way to encourage specific calls to action. Your landing page can also hold essential event details such as a curated product or guest list. A microsite is a great reference tool if attendees have any questions about the event or your brand. 

Advertising in trade publications in advance is always a helpful promotion tactic prior to an important show. Getting in contact with the press is an excellent way to get in front of various target demographics and prospective retail buyers. You can write and service press releases announcing what new products will be featured at the show. Editors are always looking for content on new product releases or top trends, making it the perfect time to connect with them before, during, and after a show.

2. Create interactive e-features

Provide your guests with an engaging experience by adding virtual product demonstration videos or have an expert from your company lead an educational seminar. Don’t be afraid to brainstorm ways to have fun and be different from other brands! For example, if you sell an alcohol, juice, or other beverage, try hosting a virtual happy hour as a fun way to showcase your company’s personality and demonstrate your product. Work with your event representative to see what your exhibitor package includes and what your virtual platform allows.

3. Practice makes perfect 

The best way to know whether your event will succeed is to rehearse your presentation and watch your performance. Here are several tips on how to make sure your event stays exciting and runs smoothly:

  • Start your presentation on time–first impressions are vital. If you’re late to start your event, people will most likely believe there was a technical difficulty or leave the event entirely. 
  • Adjust the content of your slides so that you are clicking through more slides with less information instead of having one slide with an overload of words. Pacing your slides will help keep viewer attention and prevent people from leaving. 
  • Switch your speakers frequently to break up any lengthy monologues or over-dragging talkers.
  • Add variety to your presentation by presenting more visual media such as pictures, GIFs, or videos.
  • Keep your event branding and theme consistent throughout your presentations.

If you’re interested in best practices for virtual meetings, such as ECRM’s ESI’s check out our “Virtual Presentation Best Practices Every Supplier Should Know” article here.

RangeMe features and tools to use

In preparation for an in-person or virtual trade show, here are some features on RangeMe that you should leverage in your trade show strategy: 

  • List your trade shows: On RangeMe, you can let buyers know which trade shows you will be attending or exhibiting on your profile. RangeMe will add your brand to specific product collections reserved for suppliers that are attending particular trade shows. Buyers can view the collections to look at the suppliers on RangeMe that plan to, or already participated in a particular trade show. 

Use your downloadable sell sheets: RangeMe now provides downloadable sell sheets that can be shared with buyer contacts. Your downloadable sell sheets reflect product information, images, and brand details that buyers can review prior to or after the show. Plus they contain a QR code that will take buyers directly to your RangeMe profile! Below is an example of a RangeMe provided digital sell sheet.

  • Share your profile: Communication with prospective retail buyers before and after tradeshows is crucial. RangeMe allows you to share your profile and downloadable sell sheets, which allows you to give a peek into your brand and products or follow up with new contacts after the show. Sharing your profile gives you the chance to show prospects why you are worth their time and what exactly you have to offer. 

More RangeMe resources for trade show best practices

Relevant Blog Posts

Relevant Webinars 

  • How to Create a Brand Page Like a Pro
  • How to Grow Retail Leads
  • How to Manage Retail Leads

If you’re a food and beverage brand looking to attend a virtual event this summer, ECRM is hosting its first-ever 2021 Global Market: Food & Beverage powered by RangeMe. 2021 Global Market: Food & Beverage is a first-of-its-kind industry product discovery experience running June 28th through July 2nd where buyers and suppliers from around the world will participate in an immersive product discovery and virtual meeting experience. Get a taste of this opportunity by registering now! Registration closes June 6th. 

Whether you choose to attend virtual events or are ready to dive back into in-person trade shows, follow these best practices and leverage your RangeMe profile for the most impactful and successful shows.

If you plan on attending an in-person trade show this year, check out Part 1: Preparing Your Brand For Trade Show Season, In-Person.

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