10 Reasons Virtual Shows Fall Short


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I’m a big fan of virtual shows. Right now, the experience falls far short for vendors and participants.

Here are 10 reasons I think they fall far short of their potential:

  1. They’re really uber webcasts. On a continuum between a webcast on the low end of user and vendor experience, and a trade show on the high end, the virtual show experience is much closer to a webcast.
  2. Still a static experience — so what is the difference between a webcast, Twitter, and accessing content on a microsite — something most people do regularly — and a virtual show?
  3. Overly focused on push messaging. Webcasts and access to content are the predominant communications most participants experience. The booth experience is mostly a joke. Look at the various chat windows in your next show, the conversations are ridiculous.
  4. No vendor strategy and training to capitalize on the new medium. The uber webcast mindset carries over. I regularly ask vendors how their strategy for virtual shows differs from webcasts, how they prepare and train booth attendees for the show. Most have their hands full getting set up, providing content and learning operational basics. These activities are relegated to the operational staff, not strategic management.
  5. Coordinated primarily by publishing and event producers, in collaboration with platform vendors. Publishers are interested in driving their revenue by leveraging their brand and lists. Virtual shows are a replacement for their dwindling live event revenue.
  6. Applied using an old paradigm — the live event. To paraphrase a famous aphorism (given I have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail) — given our event and technology business models, here’s how we can use this “new” medium. When are we going to capitalize on the real potential of the internet for location (virtual) AND time shifts? Does conducting a “virtual show” for one, maybe two days, between 11:30AM eastern and 6:30PM really make sense? Or, is it just convenient for sponsors and presenters.
  7. Doesn’t accommodate the reality of how people interact online. For live shows in a physical location, we have little option but to carve out a day or two for the event. Online, we interact intermittently. We expect content on demand. We would like to interact the same way. On Twitter, I tweet when it’s convenient, and in short spurts.
  8. Redundant investments in virtual show platforms. This relates to the paradigm observation. Why do we need a traveling “show” online? Why wouldn’t an industry group establish a permanent, online, 24×7 environment where interested participants could regularly and periodically attend webinars, engage vendors online, and network with people investigating similar issues?
  9. They don’t capture people’s imagination, there’s no buzz. Virtual shows have been around for years. I regularly encounter people — yesterday a marketing person for a vendor sponsor, and the person managing their participation — who have never attended (or heard of) a show.
  10. Does a poor job of facilitating conversations and interactions on a one-to-one basis. Business-to-business selling has moved online. But vendors haven’t figured out how to do a much better job than to host and present content. This might be ok to fill the front of the funnel, but we’ve got a long way to go to realize the full potential.

What have been your experiences with virtual shows? What do you think show organizers and vendor sponsors can do to realize better outcomes?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Burns
Jim Burns is founder and CEO of Avitage, which provides content marketing services in support of lead management and sales enablement programs.


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