Planning and Logistics

Why Virtual Exhibiting is a Must for First Time Exhibitors and Startups

Published on Nov 29, 2020 11:54:24 AM


Has your business ever exhibited at a face-to-face trade show before?

Had you thought about exhibiting, but then restrictions due to the COVID pandemic shut down those plans?

Been thinking about exhibiting at a trade show but not sure when things will be “back to normal”? Wondering if there’s a way to start preparing for when in-person trade shows do finally get back into full-swing?


WHY trying out a virtual trade show IS A GOOD IDEA to prepare you FOR LIVE TRADE SHOWS


If you’ve never planned for or executed an exhibit marketing plan for your business, then you likely can only imagine all that goes into the pre-show, live show, and the post-show planning. Even from minimal research, you probably concluded that it’s a long list, and you’re right!


From planning how your physical exhibit will be designed and the experience that you want attendees to have, selecting the right trade show floor booth staffers to get the job done, deciding how you want to capture leads, picking the right messaging to reflect your brand and goals, executing a speedy follow-up plan with the leads you obtain, and promoting the entire event from the beginning stages of your planning to the end of the show – you can see there’s quite a bit that goes into successfully exhibiting at a trade show. As this obviously isn’t the whole list, we can assure you that there are many boxes to be checked when it comes to planning and executing a trade show. You can find a complete timeline and checklist here if you’re interested.



What we have recently found is that if you’ve never experienced all that goes into it, doing a virtual event first can eliminate some of the heavy-lifting that you’ll experience when you finally do pull the trigger on exhibiting at an in-person trade show. How you ask?


Virtual trade shows can help you figure out messaging and content that works before investing in a real exhibit.




One very time-consuming piece of the puzzle that we mentioned above is messaging. Figuring out exactly what you want to tell your prospective buyers can be tricky to narrow down. There are plenty of ways you can go about sharing a single message, so finding out what method resonates best with your audience can be done through virtual exhibiting.

Check with the show organizer first to ensure they will be providing you proper analytics to track attendee engagement at your virtual show. If so, you could do A/B testing with different types of content. Here are a few examples:


1. You could offer two different webinars with different topics and messaging types.

2. Let your audience choose between the two, or track which one they gravitate toward first to gain some useful insight on which topic is more appealing to them.

3. You can compare which presentation attendees viewed the longest and if more people viewed an entire presentation more often than the other.

4. You can gauge how often certain questions were asked so you can prepare your trade show team to answer those types of questions when you execute your first in-person trade show.

5. You could even test responsiveness to different keynote speakers. (Don’t forget to include a bio and a list of prominent industry affiliations.)

6. Perhaps your target audience prefers to hear from the CEO of the company rather than an outside spokesperson, or maybe vice versa.


ST-WHY do you need an exhibiting strategy that fits your brand better

#Tradeshows have come to a screeching halt this year, and #exhibitors have had to deal with the stress of canceled and rescheduled shows. Capitalize on this downtime before most trade shows resume. Create a cohesive branding effort for your #digital and #facetoface #marketing.




Understanding your viewing and engagement statistics from your virtual trade show can help you determine what’s working well and what isn’t resonating as much so that you can fine-tune content in the future!

If the messaging you choose dictates the way you want your exhibit to look, this could also save you time and money in the future as well.

Before purchasing graphics, it will be helpful to know what resonates the most with your target audience.





Virtual trade shows can give your trade show team a lot of practice and preparation to speak fluently at your in-person exhibit.



You never really know what a trade show attendee is going to ask your booth staffers until they ask it. Sure, you can role play and prepare them for the common questions that you often receive and the types of questions that you already have listed on your FAQ page, but there are always those questions that you may not be prepared for. A virtual trade show is a great way to prepare for those questions that might catch your trade show team off guard.


If you do plan on executing an in-person trade show exhibit in the future, then delegating your expected trade show team to be involved in live chat options and Q&A sessions will help them start feeling comfortable in this type of atmosphere. They’ll gain a lot of insight on answering questions on the spot as well as lots of practice for fine-tuning their pitches and wording.


Virtual trade shows can help you nail down a successful follow-up plan.


Following up with your audience is a step that many exhibitors tend to forego, although it’s one of the most important since so much time and money is spent to make those initial connections! Don’t make the same mistake of throwing away these valuable connections that you make at your virtual and in-person trade shows.


conversation started at trade shows.jpg



Reaching out to your audience is an important next step to seal the deal on sales and keep them engaged after your event. Even if they aren’t quite ready to make a purchase after your event is over, it’s still valuable to stay in touch and continue offering them value until they are ready to make that purchase. You could send them a post-event survey with an incentive for completing it (perhaps to be entered in a prize drawing), you could offer them additional value such as an eBook, or let them know about your next event with a link to sign up for it.

These are some of our best tips for following up with your trade show leads – in a nutshell:


1. Qualify your leads by understanding where they are in the buying process.

2. Reach out as soon as you can to make sure they don’t end up searching elsewhere.

3. Be consistent in contacting them for the first few weeks after your trade show to stay top of mind.

4. Tailor your follow-up content to cater to them specifically, rather than simply adding them to your newsletter email list.


Journey Based Advertising

Journey-based advertising is a #digital advertising strategy where you tailor your #ad #targeting and ad #creative to align with the buyer’s journey. Whether you’re new to advertising or looking to expand your efforts, with journey-based advertising you can build #brand awareness, expand your reach, and drive revenue.



There’s quite a bit of thought required to plan and execute a successful trade show, so while in-person trade shows are on the back burner and slowly re-opening, consider a virtual trade show!


You’ll be able to start understanding your audience a little better, figure out messaging that resonates best, help your trade show team prepare, and begin to understand the follow-up process and what methods work best when doing so. When you are ready to hit the gas pedal on your first in-person trade show, you’ll already have so many things checked off your list to get you started, and Skyline Exhibits will be there to help you through the rest. We offer exhibit management, exhibit design, installation and dismantle, and asset management programs, all while ensuring that your trade show runs smoothly.

Let us know if you have any questions about getting started in the trade show world.





This post was first published in


Topics: Exhibit Design, Brand Exhibiting, trade show planning, trade show planning and logistics, post-covid exhibit design

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Create a calendar for event marketing.

1. Work with your designer to conceptualize any infographics, Twitter cards, Pinterest Pins, social display ads or other visuals for your campaign. The free software from Pablo makes the process easier, with more than 600,000 images and two dozen fonts you can use to create social media graphics.


2. Add your event to your email signature. Make use of our own Trade Show Selector Tool to do your research for various industry-specific trade associations.


3. Create an event page on LinkedIn, Facebook, and/or Eventbrite, as well as on your own website or use other technology as cited in this article.


4. Submit the event to the relevant industry directories, so that it shows up in various listings.


5. Create a highlight reel from last year’s event, and pepper it with verbage from your Chief Marketing Officer and the VP of Product Marketing. Upload it to your YouTube channel.

Re-purpose, it for Facebook and Instagram, and used a teaser for the next event.


6. Designate a social media leader to be the primary voice and driver for your messaging.


hashtags for events and trade shows

6. Find out what the show’s official hashtag will be, and come up with your own action specific brand hashtag. You might want to check out how we did it.



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1. Commit to doing X posts per day/week on each of your social platforms


2. Amplify your updates via promoted posts, tweets, and updates to reach new, lookalike audiences.


3. Send a LinkedIn InMail to prospects you’d love to see at the conference and expo, to alert them to your attendance.

4. Upload any and all email lists to AdWords, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and create Custom Audience campaigns to serve display ads to just these people.

5. Participate in any discussion groups on LinkedIn that are relevant to your event.

6. Start following the show hashtag several weeks in advance to stay up to date on what’s trending.



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1. Use Facebook live to capture and webcast the most exciting moments as they occur.

2. Use photos of attendees in your social updates. ID the people (with their permission) to encourage social sharing and interaction.

3. Utilize HootSuite or another social scheduler to post on your behalf when you are busy at the show.

4. Use the Twitter @ sign to engage directly with your sponsored speakers or other known social brand champions in attendance.

5. Engage in social listening to see what topics and events attendees are interested in.


6. Respond to other attendee questions, rather than just inviting people to come to your booth.







1. Go through any leads you gathered, and connect with those people on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, or like their business page on Facebook.


2. Follow up with your leads and connections via email.

3. Post an event summary on your blog, with photos of the show highlights.

4. Create and share a Twitter Moment of the event highlights.


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5. Most importantly, nurture your social leads and build your network year-round, rather than being a fair-weather user.


6. Effective social media usage means being an active and engaged part of your social community!


7. Social media for commerce - Instagram announced that they are rolling out  in-app payments, meaning that you can buy from the photo directly, without having to leave Instagram to visit a website - a boon for mall business owners


9. Design connectivity points to inspire the heart and educate the mind of your connected customers


10. The brand longevity depends on how adaptable the brand is. Listen, learn and change based on the needs of your connected customers.