Both types of events offer exhibitor information which is precious for prospecting. Both events allow you to see attendee’s names either on screen or on the badge you have to wear around your neck. However, with virtual events you don’t have the flexibility to move about the forum on your own to strike up introductions. At physical events, you can duck and weave according to your own agenda. I would give this one to physical events.
Merchandise/Brand Awareness Opportunities
Do you remember all the swag you used to gather at Trade Shows? All the delicious samples? Brand awareness is vital to getting and keeping your company’s name into the minds of your prospects. This is sorely missing from virtual events. The merchandise are conversation starters, seductions to interact with various vendors you would not have normally engaged with. Some virtual event-goers don shirts with their logos on them. I have a backdrop screen with the Spack logo on to block the organized chaos I call my office and to remind my virtual colleagues exactly who I represent. This one is a tie, in my humble opinion.
Return on Investment Effects
This is a toss up, and perhaps more time and research need to occur before there is any solid conclusion. Both physical and virtual events leave strong brand association in the minds of participants. The costs associated with virtual events are less, and lead accumulation is still possible which might put virtual forums at an advantage.
All in all, virtual events have been a great replacement for physical events, as the uncertainty of our future looms. My calendar has certainly freed up considerably so I can devote more time to the art of selling. However, I miss seeing old cohorts and meeting new players in this game we call work. I, for one, will be ready to get back out there when the world can commence in-person trade shows and expos, once again.
First major upcoming show is the Expo West in Anaheim, California: May 24-27 2021