[Podcast] Using Digital Events At Your Tradeshow

Open conference room with large projector screens around.

At Jacoby Expo, we are always looking at ways to maximize our potential and reach more. By embracing all things digital we are growing and becoming the goal chasers that we have set out to be.

Let me tell you, digital events are not something to be afraid of; in fact, once people make that dive I usually hear, why didn’t I do that sooner???

It can be intimidating and I get that you might be concerned that it will replace face-to-face events – rightfully so – but you have nothing to fear.

There is NO research that suggests f2f events will be replaced by digital ones so you can rest easy and open yourself up to the unique opportunities that digital events provide.

Why Organizers Add Digital Events

When I talk to show organizers I can feel the positivity radiate off them when they discuss what’s happening in the digital world because it has created revenue opportunities that were not possible before now.

It has opened up the door to reach a broader and more diverse audience because of the wide reach that digital promotion now has.

Physical location no longer has limits.

And all that great content you’ve been sitting on can all be repurposed for digital use. It’s only the beginning of your event, not the end.

Three Types of Digital Events

There are three types of digital events for your consideration. Each one has its own pros and cons so it’s important that you choose the best one that fits the content you have while helping you to achieve your overall goals.

Live Streaming

This type tends to be the most engaging for audiences as it allows for live Q&A sessions that online users can participate in. During live demonstrations, online attendees can ask questions and have them answered in real-time. This creates a sense of participation among the audience and draws them in.

The caveats of doing a live-streamed event are that you cannot edit live content and your internet connection must be on point at all times.

This means you can’t share a wifi connection with everyone, it simply won’t have the bandwidth you need for an uninterrupted feed. You will need an entirely separate and uninhibited connection and prepare to have staff members on-site to monitor and support the live event.

You can opt to use some pre-recorded broadcasts for your live stream, but don’t rely on them solely as it lowers engagement level and honestly, defeats the purpose.

Semi-Live

With the option of semi-live, you do have the option of including live Q&A with the presenter but a moderator will need to be present. Things get muddled without someone moderating the incoming questions.

The benefit of semi-live digital events is the ability to edit which allows more flexibility when it comes to the strength of the onsite internet. On the downside, there are fewer opportunities for engaging with online attendees which will give you less of a sense of their involvement level.

On-Demand

While this is the least engaging of the three options, it does provide unique educational sessions with the option of repurposing past content.

It also allows the online attendee to peruse the content at their convenience while offering a wider selection of topics to choose from.

Digital Event Formats

There is more than one way to host a digital event and it all depends on what format you choose. Whether you are looking to combine face-to-face with live online content or go fully digital, you can choose from any of the following types of digital event formats…

Hybrid Events

Hybrid events are exactly how they sound, a combination of both digital and f2f. It’s the best of both worlds where you can extend your event outside of the showroom to an online audience while maintaining your real-world presence. The online portion is usually a well-curated educational session(s) that will appeal to your target audience.

Rebroadcast Captured Content

If you are looking to drive future f2f, using captured content and repurposing it is a great way to expose potential attendees to your message with the goal of increasing the attendee count at your next event. Rebroadcasting content allows you the flexibility to choose the best-rated tracks – just make sure to get permission from the speaker first.

Webinars

A webinar is an online event that usually focuses on one topic that lasts from 20-30 minutes. You get to decide how many sessions you want. This platform allows individuals from all over the globe to participate regardless of location. What makes webinars convenient, aside from the fact you don’t need to leave your house, is that if you miss a session or track, you can watch it later with on-demand access and as a bonus, they usually include links to resources.

Monetizing Digital Events

Adding digital events is all about maximizing the potential of your show which means more than just adding to your attendee numbers, it’s also about maximizing profit potential.

Here are three ways you can monetize your digital event…

Consider Paid Registration

If your audience is small and more exclusive, then consider charging for access to the online event. However, if your group is large, then it becomes more lucrative for sponsors to get on board thus covering any registration fees, making the event free of charge for attendees.

Opportunities for Online Demos

People love product demos which is why they are so popular at trade shows, so offer exhibitors a paid opportunity to be interviewed exclusively for the online audience and perform brief demos for a fee.

Sponsorships

We are always looking for creative ways to create an ROI for our sponsors and there are several approaches you can take…

  1. Have an overall event sponsor, meaning this brand will be a focus on your website and throughout the event.
  2. Content sponsorship that focuses on partnering with you on all track sessions.
  3. Single session sponsorships.
  4. Lounges and theaters that integrate sponsorships.
  5. Partnering with a brand to highlight registration.
  6. Keynote speaker sponsorships.

Evaluation Time

Perhaps the most important step in this entire process is the post-digital evaluation.  You can’t determine your success if you don’t have a gauge for what that looks like. What is your success contingent on?  Is it engagement level, f2f attendee increase, revenue generated, etc…?

Once you have set your parameters – it’s usually a combination of the above contingencies – you will have a good idea of how well you achieved your overall goal.

The process of determining the above includes reviewing expenses (don’t forget to count staff time) and working with vendors to collect key participation information.

Satisfaction surveys are always a must, just make sure to keep them minimal with a three-question limit.

Social media is really important when it comes to gauging the success of your event so check out all the social participation including hashtag mentions and comments.

Achieve Big

Phew!

I know that was a lot of information to absorb but I want to make sure that you are empowered with all the information that will help you achieve big.

Start small and integrate it slowly into your events and you’ll start to see things happen that you never thought were possible.

Now go chase those goals.