here is no precedent to conducting a virtual event on the scale of PACK EXPO Connects. We've brought a number of innovations to the virtual event format by eschewing fancy 3D graphics and clunky avatars and instead giving attendees what they really want: live demos and live chat with real-time access to experts. The live demo format has proven so compelling that we sold out of booth packages far sooner than we thought we would--in a matter of a few days. Ach!

What that means is this: If you missed the first wave of booth sales, it's not too late to catch the next wave. There's a lot energy on the exhibitor side of this show that you want to tap into. Here are six steps to effectively connecting with attendees at PACK EXPO Connects and generating leads without relying on live demos:

1. Load up your showroom gallery with pre-recorded video demos.

You can take the anxiety out of doing live demos by doing 100% pre-recorded demos and uploading them to your gallery. By virtue of their location at the very top of your virtual showroom, they will be the very first thing attendees see when they visit your showroom. These "on-demand" demos can be effective drivers of real-time communication if you structure them right. Need help creating your videos? Purchase a virtual showroom video content creation package from PMMI Media Group and let our experts "remotely" film you. Put "Demo video:" in front of every video headline. At the end of each video, entice viewers to engage in a live chat. Play up the fact that you have experts standing by right now. And invite them to see a schedule a private demo via your company's own conferencing tool (Zoom, MS Teams, etc.). Message this in the video itself as well as in the text description.

2. Designate your showroom gallery items as products. And highlight new products.

When you load your gallery items, you'll be given a chance to indicate whether those items are products. The benefit to making your videos product-centric (and answering "yes" to the product question) is that those products appear in a separate product search area that allows you to be found by either keyword search or by product browsing. That product search is designed to be user-friendly with easy-to-understand categories and instant-refresh search results. Do you have a new product? Mark it as "new". PMMI Media Group's editors will validate that, and that plays very well with seasoned showgoers who told us they really want a quick way to filter new products in a given broad category.

3. Staff your live chat with real engineering experts and be liberal with chat hours.

Salespeople are great. Some of my favorite people are salespeople. But our research with end user attendees turned up an interesting fact: One of the huge draws of a virtual event is live, real-time access to experts with real engineering and technical expertise, who can answer in-depth questions. They want to go beyond the salesperson and talk to people with a high degree of technical knowledge. Staff your showroom accordingly and be sure to call this out in the bio section of your virtual business cards. Feel free to staff your live chat outside of the official exhibition hours of 10am to 3pm central (and ending at 1pm central on Friday). Play up your chat expert availability in all of your descriptions. Promote this availability in outbound media products like the PACK EXPO Connects Exhibitor Preview e-newsletter as well as to your own customer base.

4. Invest in affordable 360¬į spin-and-zoom product photography.

There is no more cost-effective way to spiff up your virtual showroom than to take 360¬į immersive photos of your products, using nothing more than your smartphone. We show you how. Post these photos as collateral links and make the headlines enticing and clear so that people know to click! Better, post these images on your own website so that you get a lot of mileage out of them.

5. Create 3D virtual interactive models of your equipment.

If you are designing your equipment in CAD and solid modeling software (and who isn't these days), there is a way to export it as an interactive 3D model that visitors can explore. Click that link to  read about what Nalbach Engineering did and see their 3D virtual model.

6. Budget for outbound promotion of your virtual showroom.

Okay, loaded up with goodies, armed with experts ready to chat, and ready for visitors to knock down your door? Don't sit at home waiting for the doorbell to ring. You will get out of PACK EXPO Connects what you put into it. Even if you don't traditionally invest in outbound promotion, you should be aware that for a virtual event it is even more important than it is for a physical one for all these reasons.

Talk to your PMMI Media Group sales rep about our innovative products to promote all of these highly interactive elements of your showroom, ranging from Game Plan to our PACK EXPO Connects Exhibitor Preview e-newsletter. Do you have a product, service or capability that connects to a broader trend like OEE, E-commerce, Sustainability, or COVID-19/Remote/Virtual? Consider one of our High-Interest Facebook Campaigns to really move the needle on what you're showing and drum up interest from qualified buyers in PMMI's brand owner database. (Or OEM database if you're a controls/component supplier.)

All of these marketing products are designed to be cost-effective promotional vehicles to get the word out about your presence at PACK EXPO Connects. More promotion = more leads, plain and simple. There is a proven correlation to physical trade show marketing and we believe the correlation is even stronger for virtual events. Steps one through four make sure you have a booth worth visiting. Step 5 is critical for telling the world about it. Step 6 closes the loop, so read on.

7. Track the customer buying journey before, during and after PACK EXPO Connects.

Get a jump on your competition by taking advantage of technology specifically offered to PACK EXPO Connects exhibitors and PMMI Media Group advertisers to track the customer journey with our account-based marketing attribution tools. See the connection between marketing activity and lead generation, at PACK EXPO Connects and on your own website.

By following the steps above, exhibitors without live demos can have every bit as good a show as those with them.

Sep 8, 2020

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