As the trade show calendar fills up for a promising 2021, it means it's time to start planing your marketing campaigns and strategies that will surround your trade show program!

2020 saw a massive shift in trade show marketing as we know it. Brands and marketing agencies got creative and quickly made the pivot from traditional marketing methods to the new, digital marketing methods that met online exhibitors at the moment.  

So what does 2021 look like for trade show marketing?  

One thing we know for sure is that the in-person event landscape will not look the same, and that attendee numbers may be down. This may be due to capacity limitations, budgetary restraints, personal comfortability or a combination of the three. Regardless, what we do know is that you still need to reach your full audience potential. Which is why you should be marrying your physical presence with a virtual environment.

If you haven’t yet, now is the time to create a fully integrated marketing campaign by including and utilizing a virtual environment.  

How Can a Virtual Environment Enhance My Event Presence?  


Technically, a virtual environment can help brands stay connected to customers and prospects during each phase of an event. For trade shows, most marketing campaigns include pre-show, show, and post-show engagement opportunities. While a virtual environment can facilitate marketing outreach during each phase, in this article we’re going to focus on pre-show marketing   


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Build Hype  


If your brand plans to launch a new product or service at an upcoming trade show, use your virtual environment to build hype for the launch.  

Send prospects an email, or better yet — a piece of magic mail (this is a mailer that gets attention, not just a boring white envelope!) — to invite them for an exclusive sneak peek of the product in your virtual environment.  

Within the virtual environment, you can treat customers and prospects to a teaser video or graphic animation to give them a glimpse of what they can expect to see at the live event. If your client or prospect is truly interested in this product, then they will certainly make the time to visit your booth. Which leads us to...



Book Meetings and Demos 


Now that you’ve got your exclusive group hyped on what to expect at the show, let’s get them booked to meet with a member of your team!  

If one of your trade show marketing goals is for clients and prospects to book a meeting or a demo with the event staff, get started prior to the event. At the completion of the teaser video, or mini-education session you created to build hype and intrigue, you can prompt users to book time with your team immediately (why wait?) or during the event by using the scheduling feature. See how nicely it all ties in, and how you can effectively guide users through your pre-show marketing process all in one place? 

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Create Intrigue 


Unlock the inner detective in your clients and prospects by inviting them to participate in a scavenger hunt or your own version of a game of Clue. Your pre-show teaser can start in your virtual environment with the final clue or prize revealed at the live event. BONUS: Use avatars to create a more human connection in the virtual environment to guide your prospects through the hunt.  

People inherently enjoy solving puzzles and mysteries, and connection with others, so why not treat them to a fun experience that also lends itself to the “can’t miss it!” feeling of visiting your trade show booth at the live event?  


Inform and Educate  


If you’re planning an educational or information session at the live trade show, why not invite your customers and prospects to a preview version of the session? Embed short informational videos, downloadable worksheets, e-books and more before the show even starts. Creating a mini-session in your virtual environment will build hype AND intrigue for participating in your brand’s educational sessions at the live event.  

Who doesn’t like to be prepared with detailed notes and questions? Oh, just us? (nerds...) 

Utilizing your virtual environment for pre-show marketing will give your clients and prospects the advantage of interacting with your brand before the live event. This pre-show interaction increases brand recognition, helping your brand stand out in a convention hall full of competitors. It will elevate you from the crowd who are entirely focused on unimpressive pre-show mailers and spammy emails.  

Take this opportunity to surprise and delight your prospects before the event; in doing so, they’ll take the time to visit your booth AND be excited about doing so! 


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