See the video: The Case For Virtual Trade Missions

We will all have experienced the increased use of video conferencing and webinars during the lockdown – and realised just how cost effective and easy can be. The goal of this Section is to set out considerations and guides for you to host your own Virtual Events. (To see our approach to Virtual Events see the Live Events section.)

Virtual events range from:

  1. Single discussion\topic webinars; to
  2. Multiple, simultaneous workshops; to
  3. Full blown trade fairs and industry exhibitions.

They are being used for:

  1. Product Launches.
  2. Recruitment.
  3. Sales Kickoff Meetings.
  4. Tradeshows.
  5. Training.
  6. User Conferences.

Their main characteristics are described in more detail below. However, they all build on the same concepts of:

  • Mirroring, and, where possible, improving on comparable physical events.
  • Generating measurable results.
  • Delivering value.
  • Driving action.

Whether you organise or simply attend these events, they will require you to think carefully how you can benefit from the features they offer – and there are lots of benefits they can bring:

  • They are cheaper to hold.
  • They are cheaper to attend.
  • They mirror most of the characteristics of a physical event.
  • They make a major contribution to reducing your carbon footprint[2].
  • Elements can be pre-recorded – reducing the risks of “problems on the day”.
  • The session analytics can be extremely detailed and delivered in near-real time – providing unrivalled marketing information.
  • They offer secure connections that are fully GDPR compliant.
  • They provide areas for round table discussions and webinars with the ability for delegates to ask questions and exchange text messages; both privately and publicly.
  • Customised registration and payment pages.
  • Customised email confirmation and reminders.
  • Open APIs to integrate with 3rd party software (such as CRMs).
  • Surveys\polls.
  • Video, chat, social media, web page, skype\zoom links.
  • 24/7 availability.

A word or two of caution. Given the clear benefits and their relatively low cost, it is reasonable to expect an explosion of virtual events. At that point, there is the challenge of attention overload. For your events to be successful – they must be significantly interesting and useful – otherwise, they will simply get lost in the digital fog.

A webinar is simply a group meeting conducted over the Internet. They are particularly effective when having pre-sales discussions with groups of potential clients and\or managing user groups:

  1. You can share screens.
  2. You can bring in members of your company to cover specific topics.
  3. You can see your counterparties – which helps you establish personal contact.
  4. They are easy and relatively quick to set up.

From thought-leadership panel discussions to weekly live demos, webinars are an effective way to move prospects from product awareness to closed deals.

If you use webinars, you should then consider developing a webinar hub\YouTube channel with:

  • On-demand recordings of all webinars.
  • Calendar with past and future webinars.
  • Supplemented where appropriate with straightforward video presentations.

There are a number of platforms that can be used for small Group Sessions (see: The ExportersAlmanac Team Collaboration Programs as well as Larger Meetings and Webinars for multiple, simultaneous workshops.

Trade Missions, Trade Fairs and Industry Exhibitions

These are platforms which mirror the visual experience of attending a trade mission, a trade fair or industry exhibition – complete with entrance hall and company stands. If you have not experienced one of these, then check out this short demo video from Virtual Tradeshow Hosting.

In addition to the benefits listed above, virtual trade fairs and industry exhibition typically offer these additional features:

  • Welcome\Entrance Hall.
  • Exhibition Hall with personalised exhibitor stands.
  • The facilities to create virtual, customised stands.
  • The ability to book private appointments with delegates at their stands.
  • A meeting area where you can meet other delegates for private or public chats.
  • Simultaneous translations\interpreters.
  • Prize give-aways.
  • They can be temporary or permanent. - Some examples of existing, permanent Virtual Exhibitions can be seen at The ExportersAlmanac – eCommerce – Advertising & Marketing Virtual Events.

Event Promotion - Timings

According to research from GoToMeeting, you should start promoting your webinar at least four weeks in advance and keep promoting up to the day itself. In practice, we would suggest that you need at least three months’ preparation and for bigger events anything from 6 – 12 months.

Promotional Material

Prepare all of the following before the event:

  • Promotional material and collateral to be used pre- and post- event.
  • All follow-up emails.
  • Define the Calls to Action (CTAs) you want delegates\attendees to take.
  • Provide these CTAs that sales reps can use in their communications pre and post event.

  • The first follow-up email should be sent to attendees within 24 hours of the event and include links to any webinar recording and slides.
  • Analyse and distribute event data. As a minimum be sure to track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with your overall event goals for example:
  1. Leads who registered.
  2. Leads who attended.
  3. Leads who registered but did not attend.
  4. Leads who never registered.
  5. New Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) from post-event lead scores.
  • You can also add:
  1. Event poll responses.
  2. Survey responses.
  3. Questions asked during the event.
  • Collect suggestions covering:
  1. Requests for new event topics.
  2. Feedback about events to date (interest levels, quality of presentation etc.)

If the event is one which needs to generate revenue, the main sources of potential revenue are similar to those for physical events:

  1. Entrance tickets.
  2. Exhibition fees (for company stands).
  3. Sponsorships and advertising.

According to InEvent, the ROI for events average 24% - 34%; stands are typically charged out at $500+ with sponsorships with B2B companies spending $20,000 on average sponsoring an event (although these do range from about $200 to much, much more depending upon the event and the sponsorship packages offered).