As we celebrate the return of live events, recent research has revealed that in the print sector, perhaps life will not totally return to pre-covid levels with regards to investment in live shows.
Going forward, a combination of live shows and carefully selected virtual events running in parallel, or in some cases instead of live events, is almost certainly the way ahead.
Is there a place for physical AND virtual events?
Clearly there is a place for live events and all they have to offer, but there is now also a place for high quality virtual equivalents.
OEMs and service suppliers are considering their future presence at trade shows after the Covid-19 pandemic forced a halt (and perhaps a rethink) to live physical exhibitions. Many have realised that exhibiting at large events may not necessarily be the best way to gather genuine sales leads. Perhaps tighter budgets could be spent on more effective marketing methods that can demonstrate a better ROI to generate sales leads.
In FuturePrint & Pack’s recent survey in partnership with Ricoh, 50.49% of those responding thought that “international trade shows have now become more difficult to justify in terms of exhibiting and visiting” and only 30.88% said that “International Trade Shows will remain vital for us and our industry”.
The future is Hybrid
Printing Expo offers a hybrid solution, it’s a digital marketing asset that showcases a company’s profile and products with the company’s marketing team having the complete freedom to be able to design and style a showroom to match their company branding. It also generates global sales leads by collecting not only the contact details of visitors, but also provides sales teams with key information such as what is the most popular products, videos or brochures to what route and journey each visitor took through the showroom and how many times they viewed each product or information hotspot. Information you would not be able to gather at a live event or even from a company website.
Virtual showrooms or stands hosted at Printing Expo and running in parallel to a live event can also be used to significantly enhance a presence at a live exhibition and boost visitor numbers. The live stand can be replicated virtually in advance of the event giving visitors the chance to see what will be on display, including 3D products and equipment, and book a time slot with the on-stand sales team to guarantee being seen when the exhibition is open. The visitor will have a conveniently appointed time with the product’s expert salesperson and the sales team will know who to expect and when. It will also be a pre-qualified sales lead as the prospect will have already expressed an interest by visiting the virtual stand and product, and the sales team can see how many times the prospect visited the product and which technical data or videos they viewed regarding that product. The virtual stand can also play a vital role post event as a vehicle from which to remind visitors as to what they saw, and perhaps more importantly, address visitors who were unable to make the journey to the physical event with the added bonus that sales leads and data can still be collected virtually.
Printing Expo: a show without borders or barriers to growth
Showrooms can also be customised to reflect a local market. HP have just opened the Japanese version of their pre-existing Digital Pouch Factory. Not only has the content been translated to Japanese but the showroom was given a localised look and feel. Visitors at Printing Expo can choose to enter the English or the Japanese version at the click of a button. HP have their own duplicate version of the asset to market themselves through their own marketing and URL.
Printing Expo Exhibitor Experience: Müller Martini
Müller Martini opened a showroom at printing Expo when it first opened and have successfully been using it as a sales tool ever since. David McGinlay, Sales Manager Müller Martini UK says “For me, the showroom is another excellent tool to use in contact with my customers and there is only positive feedback” David continues; “I know self-praise is no honour, nevertheless, I rate our online showroom as ‘Best in Class’. As far as I can see, there is nothing comparable in the graphic arts industry. As a member of several large graphic arts organisations in the UK, I hear different opinions about digital transformation in our industry when I attend industry meetings. However, I am convinced that our particular – not to say strange – times require new and, above all, innovative ways of working. That’s why I’m proud to be part of the pioneering partnership between Müller Martini and Printing Expo Online......”
Businesses are now also under pressure for sustainability and a drive towards a carbon neutral position. “Virtual exhibitions can reduce carbon emissions by 99% when compared to live events” was a conclusion drawn from a recent paper, ‘Making industrial exhibitions green’, based on the ISO 20121 standard comparing a V-EX platform (on which Printing Expo runs) virtual trade show with several live physical events. The number of webinars taking place recently has grown significantly, some are very good, and some contain interesting content but are greatly let down by the format and presentation. With some travel restrictions still in place or companies not wanting the expense or inconvenience of staff or clients not wanting to travel, Printing Expo offers an experienced team to run high quality webinars or virtual conferences with many tools available to enhance the event and to engage attendees such as live Q&A, live social media walls, live quizzes, and virtual networking as well as ‘live’ avatars of hosts and presenters. Two new studios with green screen and LED screening facilities will open in the new year with live streaming and pre-recorded content options plus live mixing from a top of the range editing suite. This will allow stand owners to produce high quality videos or webinars of themselves and guests as if they are sitting in or walking around their virtual stand or showroom. They could be talking about a product whilst standing beside it with the product manager and CEO and be viewed by a live and unlimited pre-registered global audience.
Live physical events will continue, perhaps in a changed format, but virtual events, conferences and webinars can sit alongside them and enhance them providing that they are of a high enough standard, engaging as well as being a fun experience. The virtual world has no limits as to size, design, and experience, for marketing teams the virtual world is an unlimited design dream where they can create showrooms that would not be possible in the physical world and which can draw in visitors as well as collect their GDPR compliant contact details and visitor statistics to pass along to their sales teams, globally.