hile live demos are a powerful draw PACK EXPO Connects, it would be a mistake just to focus on demos alone. Indeed, some exhibitor packages don't contain any live demos at all. The answer is to load as many products as your package will allow in your gallery. Reason: They show up in a separate product search area (pictured below). And they can generate leads when someone "favorites" them with the plus sign.
To find your products, not only can attendees search by keyword, they can simply check a box to instantly filter all the products by major product category. The filter is instantaneous. No waiting for a page to refresh. The convenience and ease of use cannot be overstated, and I believe it will drive extensive usage. The pictures are nice and large, and when the attendee clicks, they see a full-size image or your video, whichever you uploaded in the gallery section of your virtual showroom.
See this video screen capture of me taking it out for a spin. (The video is an early prototype and lacks the "plus" signs but the final product will have it.)
A couple of thoughts. We put a lot of thought into the list of product categories, known as taxonomy. Instead of a super long list of granular terms (some of which might be a little arcane to some people who are newer to the field of packaging), we deliberately went with a very small number of broad categories that are widely understood. In our research with actual end users, they told us they prefer fewer, broader categories. This makes the product search extremely powerful and easy to use, and thus increases your potential for being found.
End users also insisted that the accuracy of categories be correct. Which is why if you tag your product with a category in which it doesn't belong, we'll ask you to remove it. The stakes are high with a virtual event. Every product (or demo) that shows up under a given a category is a promise to each attendee: this is what we say it is. If we break that promise, we break trust with the attendee. People are harsh judges of online experiences they perceive to be a waste of their time. All it takes is seeing one or two products or demos clearly misclassified and most will rightfully stop using product search, which would hurt all exhibitors. That's why we ask you to only classify your product(s) under one or two categories that really apply. Three tops. The expiration date has come due on the philosophy of "Let's put it everywhere so that people will see it".
The above image doesn't show it, but there will be a "New" toggle for attendees to be able to quickly filter for new products. For the first time, we're vetting whether products are actually new. (PMMI editors are checking to see if your product was publicized before, if you indicate that it is a new product.) This was something else attendees told us (the more seasoned ones anyway) in our research: to have the ability to quickly filter new products and have the results be real, validated and reliable. They specifically told us an accurate "new" filter, combined with accurate product categorization, makes this a powerful tool to very quickly see what's new.
Like product categories, the "new" designation is a promise made to the attendee: when this exhibitor says this product is new, it's actually new. In an online event, attendee trust in the experience is table stakes. We have to earn this, no questions asked.
HOWEVER: If your product is not new, there is no reason to worry. At our physical shows, roughly half of attendees are new to the show; for those attendees, everything is new. Similarly, for PACK EXPO Connects, that percentage of new attendees is likely will be even higher. And as such, we expect new attendees to be much less interested in filtering for new products, and much more interested in seeing ALL products in a given category.
We're really excited about product search. In 25 years of studying online show sites and directories, I've never seen a usable implementation of product search until now. It's a tough problem to solve. There are three basic ingredients for an effective product search:
• An easy-to-use category system that's widely understood by visitors regardless of their experience level
• Reliable, validated categorization
• Very fast page load - ours is instantaneous! And nice, big photos and clear headlines that are easy to browse
We've got all three, and for this reason, I think we've got a winner on our hands, which means more awareness for your products, more traffic to your virtual showroom, and more leads for your company.