COVID-19 has impacted every industry in every part of the world. Large events, in particular, have been delayed or cancelled to prevent transmission, and as a result, many businesses that rely on trade shows and networking events are left high and dry.
The solution for this disruption is moving events to virtual platforms; however, key decision-makers often hesitate to attend virtual trade shows. It’s time to reconsider. Here are a few of the ways small businesses can benefit from participating in virtual trade shows.
Many businesses have limited resources that impede their ability to take advantage of all the opportunities they would like, but virtual trade shows allow small businesses to attend events they wouldn’t otherwise be a part of because of travel costs or timing. The digital platform is universal, granting access from any part of the world and, therefore, giving small businesses global reach.
Many trade shows for the next few years will likely be in a virtual setting, so businesses should start planning to determine which events that wouldn’t have been an option before they want to participate in.
Access to New Vendors and Leads
As virtual trade shows are farther-reaching and more accessible, participating in them will give small businesses access to new vendors and opportunities. For example, a trucking company could connect with costex.com to find aftermarket parts that could drastically cut their costs. A food service company could connect with a plastics specialist that makes barriers between tables for safe dining.
Participating in trade shows opens doors to look at new opportunities that businesses wouldn’t otherwise know existed. It’s an opportunity to find cost-saving solutions and innovations that can take the company to the next level and help the business do things the local competition isn’t.
On the other side of the equation, businesses that host a virtual booth or use this opportunity to network can generate new leads. This opportunity is a fantastic way to throw a wider net and acquire new customers with minimal upfront costs.
Prioritizing Employee Safety
Business travel is extremely limited around the world as some countries have barred entry to international visitors or put 14-day mandatory quarantines in place. As a result, travel isn’t an option for some businesspeople, and it might be some time before people can safely travel and spend time in crowds without risk, even within open borders. By starting to participate in virtual trade shows, you can prioritize employee safety during and after the pandemic. Additionally, many hosts will shift to permanently virtual events— learning the ropes of how best to connect in this setting now will serve you well later.
Access to Tangible Data
One final aspect of virtual events that in-person trade shows will never be able to accomplish is tangible data.
Consider it this way: if someone comes to look at your booth at a trade show and you’re busy with someone else, they may drift away and never come back. You have no way of knowing who this person is or what they do.
Conversely, in an online setting, you have a generated list of people with their emails attached. You can see how many people took notice of your display, how long they spent looking, who they chatted with, and what else they showed interest in.
In other words, a virtual trade show gives incredibly valuable information that can be used to follow up and cultivate relationships. As more businesses understand and move toward data-driven decision-making, virtual trade shows and events become huge opportunities.
Of course, there are a few downsides to virtual trade shows. They’re more prone to technical glitches and lack the face-to-face interaction that many people need to feel connected. However, the pros vastly outweigh the cons, and the risk is so low that it’s worth trying for small businesses.