You know how it is, marketers: at conferences, you demo in-person.
But right now, thanks to Covid, online and virtual events are all the rage. And it will probably stay that way for a while.
Virtual events themselves are pretty good. Those small happy hours and webinars and panels moving online – they are a good-enough substitute for the live thing. In fact, they’re working well enough that 93% percent of event organizers say that they’re planning to invest in virtual events even after the pandemic ends.
Virtual booths for vendors and demos at those events… not so much.
No one’s really seeing a lot of value from those online booths. Covid really messed up the conference marketing game. And since most online events are here to stay, marketers need to figure out how to up their game. (Theey’re definitely here to stay, since they cost event organizers less than in-person events as well.)
The Virtual Booth Dilemma
But for marketers at a conference, trying to drum up new leads who might turn into great clients, this online shift is trickier.
Having virtual booths makes sense on the surface. You move from getting potential leads into your physical booth, engaging them, and showing them what your product does as they wander around looking for swag. If we can create valuable speaking and educational events over Zoom, surely the same techniques apply for virtual booths at conferences as well.
But the big reason they’re really not providing value?
We’re trying to recreate the physical booth experience, instead of what actually happens inside the booth. And no one really likes the booth experience itself. It’s a bit awkward, overly sales-focused, and frankly a little bit (or a lot) boring most of the time. But it’s harder for attendees to wander off in person, so you’ve got that captive audience.
When the event is online, though? TikTok is only a tab away. You’re losing those previous booth attendees if you’re just moving your physical booth collateral to your online booth. It’s just not the way to go.
What Works Instead
Your booth visitors are only partly in it for the free swag and a way to spend a break in between sessions – and this is true whether you’re online or in-person. They actually do find value in some of your booth offerings, just not the ones you’re probably replicating online.
What do they really want to see? What engages them in your content and makes them a potential lead?
Two things: product tours and an educational experience.
First, they want to see how exactly your product works. That’s what you’re there to show, after all – you should be doing it in the most life-like way possible. Sitting through a slideshow is not going to cut it.
Second, they want to learn something. If you can provide them with knowledge they can take away back to their jobs and actually use, that’s a huge win for their trust in your authority and experience. Now they’re thinking warm, fuzzy feelings about your business – or at least admiring you as an expert in the field giving out valuable knowledge for free.
So how can you provide the experience that conference attendees actually enjoyed about your booth?
The solution is product demos.
You can put a live demo and product tour inside your virtual booth. It gets people to go in there and actually experience what they want to see. That’s educational content, new offerings, takeaways, and collateral.
Create a demo with Reprise, show off your top three features, and provide an interactive experience instead of a one-way conversation.
Engage your audience the way they want to be engaged, and your virtual booth will be one people actually want to visit.
I’m an entrepreneurial marketer, recovering salesperson now heading up content and community at Reprise. Over the last 20 years I’ve almost exclusively founded software startups or was an early employee. In my spare time I love playing my guitar, learning about esoteric topics, and meditating.