Virtual events offer huge advantages over physical events
Here are a series of tips to consider when attending an event as exhibitor.
In a way virtual events are no different than your day to day conversations in Twitter, Facebook or any of the other social networks and communities. The only difference – it happens during a few hours with people you may have usually no access to.
Break the "silence" by opening a chat
Visitors entering a booth don't see any "physical product" and may walk away within as few moments. But if you engage your visitor in a chat – with a friendly hello – we learned that most enjoy it and we had many good conversations.
People visiting the virtual booth may do that and get a phone call or when at home need to take care of a baby in that very moment. The communication dynamics change. I talked to a VP Marketing and after a few minutes he had to leave and came back. He was just passing security at the airport. Then he continued after he found a wall plug for his laptop while waiting for his plane. As an exhibitor you will get used to those kind of interruptions.
We noticed how important 5 years of work in the social web is when it comes to digital body language. Obviously we don't see the other person face to face but we recognize based on the way they chat, how they ask questions, how to find people on LinkedIn and Facebook while chatting to get a better idea who we actually talk to. Those extra social senses only get developed over time :)
Like I mentioned above – we looked up our visitors profiles while we chatted. That means we had a much better idea how we could help, what kind of business they are in, what kind of challenges they may face. Unlike on a physical event where people neither have the patience to introduce their entire life to us nor can we say – hang on, let me facebook you -but in the virtual world we can.
Leverage the public meeting points
While the team remained on the booth all time I was "wandering around" and had discussions on the show floor. It was great – like on a physical event but just online. I chatted with an event marketing lady from a large tech company. After a few minutes she outed herself – she said "believe it or not but I'm still in my PJ". Anybody embarrassed? No – not at all. So those online comics became reality.
Like in real life, talk to the people. But since we didn't have any audio, we had to use the chat . After 20 minutes we actually began to appreciate chat over audio. Marita and Gee had up to 8 chats open simultaneously. With an audio system you can talk only to one person – but in a chat room you can do several talks simultaneously. We still would like audio support – but maybe keep both running. And we learned that some visitors actually prefer chat over phone or headset.
There is enough boredom out there – so instead of doing a video clip about us we showed a funny video clip about the divorce between a customer and a marketer. And we had hot coffee for everybody – virtual but still coffee ;)
We discovered a very interesting side effect from virtual trade shoes: Lead Quality. People who are online savvy and agile are typically working for an equally agile company. Those companies are typically doing very well and invest or run a healthy business. Those are the people you want as lead. To the contrary, those who are more old world, require face to face to do business and are not so well connected as the online guild, are usually not in a position to invest and therefore not the kind of lead one is looking for. In other words online events have an inherited lead qualification mechanism. I guess it is hard to compete with our last years success: working 5 hours highly focused and generate over 500 new leads.
VUE 2011- A Whole New Ballgame
Please join us on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 8am Pacific / 11pm Eastern for the VUE2011
You’ll learn about leading virtual event solutions and tips for marketing in the cloud.