Showing posts with label virtual booth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label virtual booth. Show all posts

Monday, November 3, 2008

Making Your Trade Show Booth Go Places

How can you get maximum visibility for your trade show booth? By taking it around. Virtually.

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting for dinner the president of a large industrial manufacturing company with an international presence. Great conversation, great food, and I must add that it is always very refreshing to talk to someone who does not keep checking a blackberry in mid-conversation.

Part of our conversation veered towards trade shows (of course). He said that his company is preparing to exhibit at a trade show coming up soon, where they put up an exhibit, meet industry professionals face to face, gather a lot of business cards which get swiped into a CRM system and then.... once the trade show is over, his sales force goes back to the office, analyzes the leads and sends them literature and brochures via snail-mail, along with a thank-you note. He said it was very expensive. He also thought that it is possible that it may be considered to be not a very environmentally friendly way of follow-up. He thought that the 'green' angle was a legitimate one to consider when following up after the trade show.

An alternative that I brought up which he liked, was to

  • set up a stand-alone virtual booth
  • we can customize it to look just like the real trade show booth your visitors see at the convention center, to help them remember you by association with the real-world experience
  • with a few point-click actions, load that virtual booth with relevant rich-media content, literature, slide-shows, videos, and even add ways to provide direct and instant contact with relevant product managers
  • in the thank-you emails after the trade shows, include a link to the virtual booth
  • has the capability to make your virtual booth 'to-go'.

Here are the advantages as he saw in them:

  • It is highly cost-effective
  • They can send a lot of relevant content neatly organized, along with the thank-you note, without bulky attachments that normally get trapped by firewalls
  • It is 'green'

Here is the other advantage that I mentioned to him:

  • Your virtual booth can be forwarded to people within the visitor's organization, who could not make it to the trade show in person. Your message and your virtual booth, if engaging enough, assumes a viral quality about it.

If you are a company that needs a virtual vehicle for very targeted information that can be changed on the fly without the need for an IT expert, then the technology is available for your use. If you do not do trade shows but just need an info-vehicle, use it like Perry Lawson & Associates have done - as a virtual office and embedded on any chosen web page (see the embedded virtual booth with live clickable icons, in the first paragraph of this blog post).

Your virtual booth can literally go places!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The perfect virtual booth

Since the time we were born in early 1999, we have been in search of the perfect design for a virtual booth. There are two sides to this coin.

From the exhibitor's perspective, the booth should be flexible enough to accomodate their branding needs. Virtual booth designs are such a subjective matter that no answer is right and there are also no wrong answers. When we ask event organizers what they would like their virtual booth to be, the responses are replete with descriptions such as "photo-realistic", "business-like", "flexible in size", and "futuristic". We have had requests for booth designs that reflect various sizes of booths so that more or less of the screen space (real-estate) can be offered depending on the pricing packages.

The challenge always has been to tolerate the constraints experienced when taking a real-world space and squeezing it into a 1024 x 786 flat screen, without losing the flexibility and ease of navigation.

Case in point - the AMD virtual trade show which is a fascinating high-end visual rendering of a life-like convention center. From what I recall, it had a North view, a South view, an East view, and so on. Impressive for the student of multimedia digital art. Limited, however, in its utility. From AMD and its partners' perspective, it was perhaps a new kind of advertising opportunity. The online visits and downloads over a period of time were also impressive. I would safely bet that they could have accomplished the same thing with (a) a streamed video of the presentations, or a video of a real-life conference along with (b) a receptable to collect visitor information by making them fill out a form, and (c) a mechanism to gather or download brochures.

Let us look at it from the visitor's perspective. The visitors have limited time to browse the web for marketing literature or to watch a serious business presentation for an extended period of time. It is more fun to watch a viral video on YouTube. They are looking for information that they would otherwise not find on a corporate website. They are looking to make connections with key decision-makers. They are looking to be able to bump into professional peers and potential employers. They don't have time to guess what each icon on a booth means. Their network administrators usually throw a fit if they are asked to download any proprietary software for visiting at a virtual trade show booth. Visitors want to be able to switch from booth to booth and gather information swiftly - a standardized experience for efficient research and live interaction with decision makers is all that they care about. They do not want to get on spam lists, nor do they want to have to fill out lengthy forms. They want that giveaway. They want to be able to sign up for the lucky draw and win that free trip for 2 to Hawaii. They want to be entertained.

The perfect virtual booth strikes a perfect balance between the branding needs of the exhibitors and the utilitarian goals of the attendee. The perfect virtual booth strikes a perfect balance between the needs of an exhibitor to customize the booth and the needs of an attendee to enjoy a consistent, standardized and entertaining experience, with as short a learning curve as possible.

We have accomplished the near-perfect virtual exhibit hall to some extent. The perfect virtual booth has been elusive, but not for long. So stay tuned.