How To: Generate More Effective Virtual Trade Show Booths

October 19, 2010

My local farmers market had a “Vote 4 Your Favorite Booth” contest.  While the contest was active, I noticed that the fruit vendors were much more engaging and the amount of free samples increased dramatically.  The fruit stands had become more customer-friendly as a result of the competition.  This was a great thing.

I immediately thought – virtual trade shows are a lot like farmers markets – how about creating a similar contest?  Let’s consider a “Vote For Your Favorite Booth Contest” at your next virtual trade show.  The benefits:

Attendees Take Notice

The contest causes attendees to take notice, especially if you offer up prize(s) for voting.  The contest provides attendees a framework (and context) for their booth visits.  Now, when they enter any exhibitor booth, they are paying more attention to what’s there, to judge the current booth to other booths they visit.  Ultimately, they will need to determine their top vote, which requires a certain level of engagement and awareness as they move from one booth to the next.  And that’s a good thing for exhibitors.

Exhibitors Boost and Optimize their Presence

Ever sell a home or condo and host an open house?  I bet your home was de-cluttered and nearly spotless.  And I bet some of you baked cookies for the occasion.  A booth contest is a lot like the open house: the host knows that its visitors will be evaluating the space.  This results in:

  1. More captivating and refined booth imagery
  2. Booth content that aims to please (the visitor)
  3. A higher level of booth staffers
  4. More engagement from booth staffers (just like at the farmers market)

With everyone “raising their game”, this means that exhibitors win and attendees win as well.

SaaS: Sampling as a Service

In the picture above, a fruit stand placed a large assortment of samples in labeled bins, allowing visitors to sample for themselves. I call this Sampling as a (Self) Service!  The idea here is to allow “prospects” to sample your “products” (on their own) and then have a “staffer” come by to see if they have any questions.

The same could be done in a virtual trade show. Place your products in your virtual booth and allow visitors to take them on a test drive.  Let them do their thing, but check in with them from time to time to see if they need assistance.

Logistics

Here’s how the booth contest could be run:

  1. Heavily promote the contest prior to the event
  2. Educate and inform exhibitors on the ground rules
  3. Create meaningful incentives for attendees to vote
  4. Announce the winner two-thirds of the way through the event. This leaves the remaining one-third of the event for the winner to receive the benefits (traffic to their booth)
  5. Create a badge or logo that the winner can place on their web site and share via social networks

Conclusion

The virtual booths at some events can be underwhelming.  A contest can encourage and motivate the exhibitors and create a win/win/win for attendees, exhibitors and you.


Comparing Physical And Virtual Trade Shows

September 16, 2010

At Focus.com, Alex Gonzalez posed a question about the pros and cons of physical and virtual trade shows.

I’d like to share an insightful answer posted by Steve Gogolak, Director of Solutions Innovation at Cramer.

Pros/Cons as an attendee

Travel – the convenience of not having to travel is great for the participant. What’s even better is being able to invite a colleague who may be interested despite not having any intentions to visit the event. It’s the “hey, Jerry would really want to see this” moment realized.

Experience – this is highly dependent on the effort put forth by the booth owner. A lot of booths fall flat in a virtual world, but the same is true in the real world. If an exhibitor understands how to use the features within the booth well, it will make for a good experience. The use of self-directed video is a great example here. The more an attendee browses through video, the more fulfilling the experience. Chat is functional and generally gets the basics across, but will not be comparable to an in-person experience until two-way video is an option.

Privacy – browsing privately is much less intimidating online than in-person. The biggest opportunity an exhibitor has with a visitor is in the attract loop. In a virtual booth, the visitor can be presented with a finite “pitch” regarding what the booth is about. They remain captive for 30-60 seconds as the watch the video, which is effectively qualifying them as a lead (if they bolt, they weren’t interested anyway). It’s hard to stand in a physical trade show booth for a minute and not be bombarded by sales people.

Pros/Cons as an exhibitor

Cost – oh where to begin. A smart exhibitor will shift funds away from travel, employee time and expensive scenery to content production. More content that is suited specifically for a virtual booth is what the best exhibitors will focus on.

Reporting – this has already been mentioned, but near-real-time data about who is in your booth, who has visited and what they did is readily available. Similar results can be achieved in the real world with RFID systems, but the cost is near prohibitive for all but the largest companies. The data that emerges from a virtual booth can keep your sales team busy for weeks worth of follow up.

Commitment – I haven’t seen that many exhibitors really commit the time to understanding what they are doing in side of a virtual booth. They need to see it as a mini-website. An extension of their online presence, targeted for the specific audience that is attending the event in question. The reality is that 95% of the time commitment is spend in content development since the actual tools to “build” the booth are so darned easy to use. In my opinion, the limiting factor is always the content, not the technology.

Re-purpose existing content from other marketing initiatives. As Dennis mentioned, you’re online… so use the assets you already have available and treat the booth as a traffic driver, feeding highly-qualified traffic into your other marketing nets.

View the original Focus.com discussion here:

http://www.focus.com/questions/marketing/live-vsvirtual-trade-shows-pros-and-cons/

About Steve Gogolak

Marketing & Communication is my passion because I love to tell stories. I love to see the look on someone’s face when I’ve hit a chord that resonates with their needs, wants and desires.

Marketing is changing. It is moving further and further away from the “blah blah blah” of a bullhorn in the hands of large companies with big budgets and more toward the targeted messages and subsequent conversations between real people and real buyers. In short, marketing is “getting real” in a big way. What does that mean? It means that companies with remarkable products and services that demonstrate remarkable passion for their buyers’ needs will succeed more quickly – and those who rely on bullhorn-style marketing to force feed their buyers will not.

I’m passionate about marketing because real stories told by real people sell – fast and frequently. I tell stories and I help my clients tell theirs every day.


Using Social Media Marketing To Drive Your Virtual Tradeshow Leads

September 14, 2010

The following is a guest post from Cece Salomon-Lee.

As a marketer, one of my goals is to generate the right leads for my sales force as efficiently and quickly as possible.  This requires constant evaluation of existing tools — emails, banner ads, and events — as well as new ones such as social media and virtual events. While webinars arguably are a standard part of a marketer’s lead gen toolbox, virtual tradeshows are just being considered. Part of the challenge is how to effectively drive qualified sales leads to your booth or virtual event.

Here are recommendations on how to leverage social media to market your next virtual tradeshow (Please note that these recommendations are for organizations who are hosting their own virtual tradeshows and may need to be amended for those exhibiting within a virtual event):

Identify Online Influencers

Each industry has influencers who yield a lot of sway with potential and existing customers. However, popularity – the number of followers or readers -is not necessarily a barometer of one’s online influence– the ability to drive a community of individuals to an action. Identifying the right influencers based on your objectives and audience will require research and time. When done well, these individuals will write or tweet about your upcoming event.

Here are some recommendations:

Twitter Search: Use keywords to find those who tweet the most about your industry.

Twinfluence: Not only does Twinfluence provides a list of the top 50 twitter users based on reach, velocity and social capital, but also can leverage this to determine the influence of those you researched via Twitter search.

AllTop: While you can use Technorati to search for top ranked blogs, I recommend starting with Alltop, which categorizes blogs under separate topics. This will help narrow down the blogs most appropriate for your virtual tradeshow.

Engage in Conversations

Have you been in a middle of a conversation when a stranger suddenly interrupts and adds his two cents? Your initial reaction probably was “who is this guy?”. Well the same applies to online conversations. It’s important to engage in existing conversations BEFORE jumping in to promote your event and disappear. Rather, take time to monitor and participate in ancillary conversations weeks if not months before your event.

For example, research and join relevant groups on Facebook or LinkedIn related to your company, industry and/or solution. If there is a relevant question, avoid the temptation to market only your company or product. Rather, respond with valuable information that contributes to the conversation. This helps to position you and your company positively.

Advertise Socially

Social networks have a wealth of demographic and professional information regarding its members. This is a great opportunity to create ads that target specific age groups or professional titles.  Facebook allows you to select age group, region and professional title when creating ads. Like Google adwords, you’ll want to create variations of your ads, test and refine to determine the best copy and attributes. If you’re targeting more than one professional level, I recommend creating separate ads with only that professional title to better determine who is clicking through. At this time, Facebook doesn’t provide detailed analysis by title.

While LinkedIn Premium Events service is coming soon, you can leverage the social networks’ Direct Ads service to target the network’s 76+ million members. Options include company size, job function, industry, seniority, gender, age and geography.

Share Freely

With the proliferation of information online, the challenge is to demonstrate the value of your virtual tradeshow to motivate people to register and attend. You can entice potential attendees by highlighting the types of information that is available at the tradeshow. For example:

– Blog Posting: Planning a white paper? Consider sharing a graph from the white paper and soliciting feedback to drive interest.

Slideshare.net: Presenting in the virtual tradeshow? Upload the presentation slides to Slideshare and promote via Twitter, your blog, etc. Then invite people to submit questions that will be answered at the conference.

YouTube: Have a product video? Consider posting to YouTube and embedding it on your website, blog, etc

In each instance, include information about your upcoming virtual tradeshow, such as dates, times, and a unique URL to track conversions.

Measurement and Tracking

So you’re tweeting the event, connecting with industry influencers and sharing content online. The next question is how to you track the effectiveness of your social media marketing?  Most virtual event platforms should have a system for tracking and measuring media campaign effectiveness. At minimum, they should be able to provide a formula for tracking those who visit a landing page and register accordingly.

Assuming the above, I recommend:

1) Creating unique landing page URLs for each channel

2) Shorten the URL via a URL shortener service, such as Bitly, that tracks the number of clicks per URL

3) Measure, evaluate and update your marketing mix based on the a) click-through rate and b) conversion to registrations

Conclusions

One word of warning is to first research and evaluate before plunging in with a social media marketing program, especially when contacting individuals and bloggers or participating in online discussions. While social media marketing takes time and effort, when done well, the results can be spectacular!

What strategies or tactics have you used to drive virtual tradeshow attendance?

Bio

As Principal of PR Meets Marketing, Cece Salomon-Lee has over 15 years experience conceptualizing and executing successful strategies for public relations, customer communications, executive visibility, analyst relations, social media and virtual events.  She has worked with start-up and established organizations in enterprise software, SaaS and digital entertainment, such as Blue-ray Disc Association, Cisco Systems, DreamWorks Animation, HP, Yahoo!, and MapQuest. Follow Cece at @csalomonlee or via email cece@prmeetsmarketing.com.


5 Tips For A Successful Virtual Trade Show

June 22, 2010

The following is a guest post from Craig Rosenberg.

On the 29th of June from 8AM to 4PM Pacific, I’ll be running my first virtual trade show: Mastering Lead Management.  At Focus, the company I work for, we’ve been doing webinars for our clients for years. But this virtual event is our first day-long comprehensive show.  To differentiate and make it as successful as possible, there were a few critical decisions we made during the show’s development:

We called it an interactive summit — To us, a virtual trade show or trades hows in general give the impression of a vendor bazaar where everyone’s main goal of the event is to get buyers introduced to vendors. Buyers expect more.

We leveraged all unbiased, third party content (no vendor pitches) — We have sponsors, but our approach to any content we create is all about making it “buyer-helpful,” that is, information that helps buyers do their jobs better or make more informed purchasing decisions.

We gave all sponsors full booth functionality — Instead of worrying about creating different pricing schemes for different features in the booth, we gave everyone everything we could.

    We think these decisions are at least in part the reason why we’ve garnered thousands of registrants to the event so far. Based on what I’ve learned and past experience with all kinds of trade shows, here are my 5 tips for successful virtual trade shows:

    1. It’s all about the content, it’s always about the content – All the blog posts and marketing we find today about virtual events is about minimizing environmental impact, shrinking travel budgets, etc.  While I think these points are interesting, we believe that if the content is compelling, they will come.  Think about it, despite all the marketing we are producing about people avoiding live events, they go and they go because they see value.  White papers, webinars, you name it, they all still work. But it’s about the content. Why would virtual events be different?  The answer is they are not.
    2. It’s all about the variety and volume of content – A virtual summit gives you multiple opportunities to peak a buyers interest with all kinds of content.  In a white paper or a webinar, it’s a one-shot deal.
    3. Content drives the types of leads you get – The biggest factor for the future of the virtual trade show market is ROI.  I can tell you that if you try to be something for everyone, then that’s what you’ll get.  Guess what, that is the problem with the traditional trade show market.  For successful lead generation, I’d suggest creating more targeted content and be prepared for less numbers.
    4. Virtual events are scoring machines – From a lead management perspective, virtual shows provide amazing activity data on attendees.  There is a lot of content available to participants and a lot of opportunities for interactivity. All of this should be collected and sent to whomever cares, such as sponsors.
    5. Understand why trade shows don’t work – This is a bit of a “reset” of the points above, but trade show attendance isn’t only down because of shrinking travel budgets. Trade shows are down because buyers have A LOT of choices for content to do their job better.  15 years ago, trade shows had a pretty solid hold on information. Now with the internet, information is everywhere without the time and resource commitments that make it harder for live trade shows to compete. What can you learn?  Well, people aren’t going to come to your event just because your show is virtual (and you don’t want them to), they are going to come because they see value.

    Craig Rosenberg is Author of The Funnelholic, his very popular B2B sales and marketing blog. He is also Vice President of Products and Services at Focus where he oversees product creation, management, and delivery. Prior to Focus, Craig spent years as a consultant for SalesRamp where he designed, built and managed lead-generation and inside sales strategies and processes for high-tech startups.

    During that time, Craig built lead generation machines at over 25 different companies in a variety of different high-tech verticals ranging from business applications to IT infrastructure. Because of his extensive experience, Craig acts as an advisor to Focus‘s clients, helping them solve a variety of different marketing and demand-generation challenges  You can visit Craig’s B2B Demand Generation Blog at www.funnelholic.com.

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    What Can Be Better: Social Networks, Social Games, Virtual Events

    May 4, 2010

    Social networks, social games and virtual events are coming together.  Today, INXPO announced the INXPO Social Suite, which brings social networks and social gaming directly into the INXPO virtual events platform.

    Over on the InXpo blog (Virtual Insights), I provide details on how we’re making these powerful forces come together.

    Here’s a link to the full blog posting: Introducing INXPO Social Suite

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    Virtual Events 101: Common Use Cases For Virtual Events

    April 28, 2010

    Some event planners just know that they want to produce a virtual event.  Others take a circuitous route to a virtual event, considering other options first.  For those of you “on the fence” – you’re interested in virtual, but not sure if a virtual event makes sense right now, read further about common use cases of virtual events.  Based on what others have already done, perhaps you’ll find a similar use case for your business need.

    Corporate University, Virtually

    Consider a conventional corporate training program – employees travel to the training site and receive instruction.  Training is often in the form of long and elaborate PowerPoint-based presentations, with some intra-class interaction mixed in.  Some training programs may incorporate hands-on learning (e.g. in a lab or in the field, where the company’s products are used).

    Now consider virtual training or virtual university.  First, employees (and instructors) skip the flight and hotel – instead, they all participate from their office or their home.  Next, each student enters a virtual university environment, with a customized learning program created by the instructor(s).  In a virtual university (like in a virtual trade show), the attendees’ actions are tracked.  The result – heightened accountability for the students.

    Sure, students are still able to view their BlackBerry or iPhone while an instructor is speaking – in virtual, however, learning effectiveness can be measured with precision.  For example: number of sessions attended, average session stay (or, “non-idle time” during the session, if the platform tracks that), number of questions asked per session, number of polling questions answered, number of “engagements” with other students, etc.

    Quizzes (e.g. certification) can be given, with automated grading provided by the platform.  In addition, a variety of learning formats and learning tactics can be employed online: live presentations with “pass the baton” (students take turn as presenters), on-demand presentations, interactive games, online quizzes, user-generated content, Q&A sessions facilitated in a group chat room, etc.  Relative to a physical classroom setting, the possibilities are nearly endless, with tracking on a per student, per activity basis – powerful.

    Test The Waters in a New Market

    Event planners need to consider the creation of new events and new event franchises in order to generate revenue growth and explore new markets.  Consider the commitments required for a physical event vs. a virtual event.  For a physical event, you’ll need to find and secure an event site and pay a deposit to lock in your event date(s).  Then, delegates, exhibitors, presenters and the event staff make travel arrangements to the event site.  Finally, exhibitors and the event staff make arrangements to ship booths, printed paper, computers and related gear to the site.

    For a virtual event, there’s a commitment (to secure the virtual event platform), but no physical site, no travel and no shipping.  In other words, the upfront cost commitment and “overhead” is significantly reduced.  This means that you’re more free to test the waters in a new market and evaluate attendee response and sponsorship sell-through rates.  If you discover that the market is not right for an event (virtual or physical), you can move on to the next opportunity.

    If, instead, you determine that the market is ripe for ongoing events, you may choose to continue the virtual event – or, create a physical event around the footprint you’ve created virtually.  If you managed to create a loyal community around your virtual events (i.e. attendees are visiting the environment and engaging with others outside of scheduled events), then you have a natural outlet for promoting your corresponding physical event.

    Cancellation of Physical Event

    The economic downturn of 2008-2009 caused many physical events to be canceled due to budgetary factors.  Despite the cancellations, events planners were left with a mandate from management that “the show must go on” – it was not an option to cancel the annual customer conference or the sales kick-off meeting.

    What resulted in 2008-2009 was a lot of virtual event innovation, stemming from savvy event planners who migrated their legacy on-site event or conference into the virtual world.  The result for these planners?  A larger and wider audience (virtually) that appreciated the opportunity to connect and interact – you can’t replace the handshake or the post-event cocktails, but connecting virtually was better than not connecting at all.

    As economic conditions improve and budgets for the on-site conference come back around, event planners are not abandoning virtual to return 100% to physical.  Instead, they’re leaving the virtual component in place (in some cases, the virtual component grew into a vibrant online community) and pairing virtual with physical to create a hybrid experience.

    Real Products, Virtual Launches

    Microsoft made a big splash with its product launch for Windows 95 (in 1995) – the product was ushered in by the Rolling Stones’  “Start Me Up”.  These days, you’re more likely to see Microsoft produce a virtual product launch, rather than a multi-city, on-site road show.  A virtual product launch allows for effective and efficient dissemination of product information to a global audience.

    Audience segments can be conveniently managed, with hosting of analysts, media, customers, prospects and partners in areas that are virtually “walled off” from one another.  This event model is analogous to “computing virtualization” – whereby logical “sub events” can ride over a single event platform.  So rather than separate analyst day, media day and partner summit meetings, your analyst relations, PR, product marketing and partner marketing organizations can leverage a single platform to engage with all of their constituents simultaneously.

    Virtual Events as Listening Platforms

    In my mind, we (as marketers) speak too much and listen too little.  In a challenging economic environment, it can be easier to grow existing accounts than convert new prospects.  To do so, you need to listen more to your customers and become more in tune to solving their business needs.  This is where a virtual events platform can help.

    Today, we have the virtual customer conference and the virtual partner summit – those formats, however, are largely focused around “vendor to the customer” content, rather than “customer tells vendor what they need” content.  I think a “virtual focus group” should become a part of most virtual customer conferences, where the given “focus group” can be as small as a single customer to as many as 20.

    Virtual event platforms can effectively provide listening tools (e.g. chat rooms, webcasts with “pass the baton”, etc.) – to enable better listening, the platforms may need to build better interpretation and analysis tools.  For instance, the ability to parse all of the chat room content, summarize the key points made and generate a sentiment rating.  Without such tools, event organizers are forced to read through reams of chat transcripts themselves.

    Conclusion

    I’ve covered a few of the use cases of virtual events – there are many more.  What interesting use cases would you like to share with us?  Leave your thoughts via the comments section below.

    Related Links

    1. Browse the Virtual Events 101 Index Page
    2. Download the eBook, “Virtual Events: Ready, Set, Go

    Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


    Virtual Events 101: Tips For Selecting A Virtual Event Platform

    April 22, 2010

    Disclosure: I work for a virtual event platform vendor (InXpo).

    The increase in demand for virtual events brings with it a common question: “Which virtual event platform should I select?“.  Some clients find a vendor and stick with them – others will end up doing business with all the major platform vendors.  My preference would be to find a long-term partner and stick with them, as changing vendors can be painful for all involved.

    For me, selecting a virtual event platform comes down to six P’s: People, Platform, Production, Price, Process and Partners

    People

    While virtual events encompass a wide range of innovative technologies, we’re very much a services industry today.  This is never more true than on a client’s very first virtual event on a given platform – that first event is all about the platform vendor’s team working closely with the client to jointly achieve the client’s overall goals (and produce a great show, event or community).

    In this model (in which that platform vendor handles 75-100% of the production activities), the customer experience is entirely defined by the services (and service level) provided by the vendor.  Providing an extraordinary level of customer care requires that the vendors’ company culture be built around servicing the customer – in a manner similar to how Nordstrom, Disney and Zappos have done it.

    Of course, a great customer experience is ultimately delivered by individuals, which means that vendors with the right people, the right knowledge and the right experience really make a difference.  And that spans the entire spectrum, from Client Services to Development to Marketing to Finance to Legal – all departments in a company end up “touching” the customer in some way.

    When considering a particular platform, I suggest you request a profile of the team (i.e. the individuals) behind the vendor’s services – and if you’re far enough in the sales pipeline, information on the specific individuals who will be assigned to your account.  Similarly, when speaking to other clients of the vendor, be sure to ask about the type of customer experience they received.

    Platform

    Now that we’ve covered the services piece, the underlying technology comes next.  The evolution of our industry will see a shift from 80% vendor-producing events (today) to 80% client-self-producing events in a few years.  As that shift unfolds, the industry will move away a bit from its services focus – technology then becomes a critical factor, with nothing more important that the technology to enable the self-servicing itself.

    The first challenge you’ll face is that platform comparison is entirely qualitative today – there are no quantitative measurements on the technology (yet), like you have with computer hardware (e.g. megahertz, FLOPS, etc.).  While there are key quantitative metrics (e.g. %-availability, peak simultaneous users supported, etc.) – today, the claims are just that – with no independent, third party verification.

    Given this, you’ll have to rely on other companies who have been clients of the platforms – try to find a company if your industry (even a competitor) who has produced an event similar in scope to your’s.  For instance, if you’re doing a virtual product launch in the pharmaceutical industry, try to find similar customer references – you’ll receive better and more direct insights than if you speak to a technology company who did a virtual sales kick-off meeting on the same platform.

    I base my platform criteria around the following:

    Flexibility – You want the ability to shape and mold the platform in a way that suits your unique requirements – this may include seamless integration of third party technologies or it may mean customization of features or layout that suit your unique needs.

    Reliability – The platform must be available when you need it – and that includes everything from the event environment itself, to the registration system, to the reporting system, to the email system.

    Scalability – The ability to scale up to tens of thousands of simultaneous users (if your event requires it).

    Production

    As you become a steady producer of virtual events (e.g. 1-2 events per year to start, growing to 5-10+ events per year), you’ll likely want to shift production from the vendor’s team to your’s.  In doing so, you’ll take on more control over the timing and delivery – and, save on cost (to the vendor – obviously, you need to staff appropriately to make this shift occur).

    Keeping this eventual path in mind, you’ll want to select a vendor with strong “self service” capabilities.  The capabilities should allow you to create unique experiences – with the growth of virtual events, it serves you no good if your event looks identical to your competitors’ events. The platform should allow you the highest level of customization directly without custom development.

    Any virtual event platform can create a highly unique experience – but if that’s accomplished via custom development, then the model is not scalable and repeatable – and you’ll end up paying the vendor dearly (on the custom development costs).

    Price

    As with all purchasing decisions, price is always a key factor – you likely have a budget in place (either set by yourself or your management) and ultimately, the vendor’s price needs to fit your budget.  However, pricing should be a secondary focus – first make sure you have the right vendor on people, platform, production, etc. – then, for those who “make the cut”, determine which ones fit into your budget.

    If you’re willing to make an investment beyond a single event, most vendors are open to negotiating volume discounts, based on the size of your commitment.  Be sure to ask the vendor about event costs if/when you shift production to your own team.  You may be pleasantly surprised.  Lastly, think twice if your selected vendor has a price that’s significantly lower than the rest of the pack.  Sure, they may be very incented to get your business, just make sure you don’t “get what you pay for” – use those customer references to ensure the vendor can meet your key requirements capably.

    Process

    “Process” goes back to my first point about “People” and the production of your very first event.  It’s critical that the vendor have an established process for getting you from the starting line to the finish line – it should be based around project management best practices, while being flexible enough to adapt to unexpected developments or changes.  In fact, the vendor ought to show you a project planning template or timeline, so ask them for a sample to see their “execution lifecycle”.

    In addition, give higher marks to those vendors who have successfully produced virtual events in your market – they’ll be able to take their learnings from the prior events and apply them to your’s – the process will be based on prior learnings and the vendor already has a sense for how the event execution process will unfold.

    Partners

    Most virtual event platform vendors provide a somewhat specialized offering: the virtual event technology (and production) itself.  The vendors then rely on a set of partner companies to fill in the gaps (e.g. A/V, streaming, experiential marketing, strategy consulting, etc.).  Do you need an “agency” to manage your overall event experience creation and execution?  Or, are you planning to do hundreds of on-site video captures and want the resulting footage streamed within your virtual event?

    Determine your entire set of needs, then review the vendors for their own capabilities – along with whom they’ve partnered with.  Chances are that by combining the vendor and its partners, you’ll have a comprehensive solution to suit all of your needs.  Find out from the vendor whether all the “books” run through them (e.g. general contractor model) or whether you should make separate arrangements with the individual partners.

    Conclusion

    Like any other major purchasing decision, selecting a virtual event platform vendor (and partner) can be a daunting task.  A vendor with strong grades on the six P’s will serve you well.  What other selection criteria have you used?

    Related Links

    1. Browse the Virtual Events 101 Index Page
    2. Download the eBook, “Virtual Events: Ready, Set, Go

    Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


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