Recently, one of our residents approached us with a problem. At the beginning of the year, they planned to show off their product at various local trade shows.
But then COVID happened.
With most trade shows being cancelled, how can startups get their product in front of the right eyes?
We did internal research and talked to our business consultants to find alternative product presentation methods.
Those methods helped our resident to get their product out there—and they might help you too!
Read on to find where and how you can present your product without attending a trade show.
What are trade shows, and why are they important?
A trade show or trade fair is an exhibition at which businesses in a particular industry promote their products and services.
Before the world closed down due to COVID, trade shows like EPHJ and SIAMS were the go-to address for startups and established companies looking to showcase and demonstrate what they have to offer; get in touch with industry partners, customers, and the media; check out their rivals; and explore market trends and new opportunities.
Most importantly, trade shows are one of the most important platforms to present a newly developed product.
Although trade shows aren’t currently held physically, you still need to reach potential buyers, investors, industry partners, and the media.
To achieve this goal, use our list of the 6 best trade show alternatives in 2021.
6 best trade show alternatives in 2021.
Leverage your social media presence.
Most companies are far from exploiting the full potential of their social media accounts. They post a few pictures and a quote or two a month and leave it at that.
If that’s you, it’s time to step up your game. Almost everyone uses social media in one way or another. It’s up to you to find out what platform your potential customers and business partners use and how they use it.
Step-by-step guide to leveraging your social media presence.
- Decide what platform(s) to use. Where do your potential customers hang out? LinkedIn? Twitter? Both? None of them? Whatever your social media platform, your potential customers frequent, you want to be there.
- Complete your profile. When someone reads your post, visits your page, and finds nothing but a name and a logo, they won’t stay. You need to take the opportunity and tell them what you do, how you do it, and why you do it.
- Post regularly. The most successful social media accounts post several times a day. You don’t need to match that frequency, but try to post at least once a week. Always make sure that what you post is interesting and the social media algorithms will love you.
- Engage with the community. Social media isn’t very social when you just dish out statements, is it? Comment on others’ posts, answer the comments on your posts and use direct messages.
- Bonus tip: Promote your blog posts. You put much time into planning and writing your blog post. It’s great content that your potential customer wants (and needs) to read.
At trade shows, people can come up to you and ask questions about your product. On a website, it’s a little different. The reader has to find all the info themselves, or call you, or fill out your contact form.
The sad truth is: Most people don’t fill out your contact form.
Instead, try employing a chatbot on your website that uses AI to answer your readers’ questions. Prompt the reader with the question: “Can we help you?” and they will be quick to jump into the conversation with your bot.
If your bot can’t answer a question, you can have the message sent through to your computer or phone so that you can answer it yourself directly.
Step-by-step guide to employing chatbots.
- Sign up to a chatbot provider. We again recommend HubSpot’s chatbot.
- Create your flows. A flow is the questions and the corresponding answers of a chatbot. Take your time to think about all the questions your potential customer could have and the best answers to each one.
- Add the chatbot to your website. You will need to copy a bit of code and paste it to your website. Chatbot providers like HubSpot have great guides on how to implement a chatbot.
Publish blog posts.
Just like you found this blog post while looking for a solution to a problem, millions of people do the same each day. While you were reading that previous sentence, Google handled approximately 120,000 searches. Chances are, your product is the answer to some of those 120,000 searches.
While your blog is a great tool to get in front of people, you need to keep in touch with them. Your primary goal is to have your readers turn into customers. So make sure they can get in touch with you easily or leave their email address so you can keep them up to date via email.
Step-by-step guide to publishing blog posts.
- Create a blog page on your website. Website builders like WordPress, Wix, or Joomla, include a blogging function. If an agency made your website, you might need to ask them to add a blogging function. An alternative would be to create your blog with special software like HubSpot or WordPress.
- Think about who should read your blog. This is your ideal reader and the person you will be writing for. Since you’re reading this blog, you are probably our ideal reader, for example.
- Come up with topic ideas. You, as our ideal reader, are reading this article because you want to learn about alternative ways to promote your product. What does your ideal reader want to know? How can your product help them?
- Write regularly. Most likely, you aren’t the only one talking about what you’re talking about. Not every article you write will climb to the first page of Google. That’s why you need to know your keywords and keep creating.
- Capture email addresses. Make sure that you can keep in touch with your readers. You can let them download your content in return for their email address. Or you can bluntly ask them to sign up for your newsletter.
Once you gain traction through your blog and your social media, you will want to keep in touch with your readers and followers.
You want to keep them up-to-date with your product development, invite them to virtual events like webinars and shows, and convert them to paying customers.
That’s where email marketing comes into play.
Step-by-step guide to writing emails.
- Whom are you writing to? You won’t send a personalized email to each and every person on your list. But you may be able to group people into categories. Doing so allows you to target the right people with the right content.
- Choose a headline. Just like writing a headline for your blog posts, you need to write a headline for your email. The headline will go into the ‘Subject’ field and should make people want to open your email.
- Write your email. Write something that benefits your reader. Create a connection between yourself and them.
- Call to action. Do you want them to click a link? Send you an email back? Register for an online event? Whatever it is, tell your readers what you want them to do.
Host webinars with live Q&As.
One of the key aspects of trade shows is the on-stage product and company presentations. By hosting your own webinars, you can gather an unlimited number of participants for your presentation.
What’s even better is that you don’t face any restriction by the host. You can show off your product in any way you want. And in the end, you can host a Q&A for as long and thorough as you choose.
Step-by-step guide to hosting webinars with live Q&As.
- Get comfortable with the format. Join one of our free webinars. (Nice side-effect: You might find your potential business partners and customers right here.)
- Create a webinar. Go in-depth into a problem you know how to solve. Show your webinar attendees how they can solve this problem and how your solution can help with it.
- Get online. You can host your webinars with tools like Zoom or Google Meet. Make sure you know how the software works before your webinar starts.
- Promote your webinar. Sometimes it’s hard to get noticed online. People don’t walk past your booth, you have to draw attention to yourself. You can do this with paid advertising, using social media, and leveraging your email list.
- Gather information. Before someone can register for your webinar, they have to give you some information about themselves. Ask for things like company, industry, organization size, and any other information that could be valuable for your sales team and email marketing efforts.
- Hold the webinar and Q&A. Once you fill your virtual seats, you can hold your webinar. Make sure to deliver value to your attendees and stay online after your webinar for a live Q&A.
- Record your webinar. Making your webinar available online might be a good source of knowledge for your next customer.
- Bonus tip: Attend webinars of others to network. Campus Industrie 4.0 is great if you speak French. If you speak German, visit Switzerland Global Enterprise. And if you speak English, we have the right online events for you. In case you don’t find what you’re looking for, sign up for even updates that matter to you.
Cold call your prospects.
Sometimes we forget about this basic, yet effective strategy.
Cold calling is a tedious process with a low success rate. Nonetheless, it always brings in business to those who do the work!
Step-by-step guide to cold calling your prospects:
- Know your prospect. The more you know about the person on the line, the better you can sell to them. Learn about their workday, pain points, and interests.
- Know your offer and hook. When you have this data on your prospect, you can present your offer in the best way possible. Let your prospect know how you can improve their life and then hook them with a great deal.
- Don’t have a script. You can’t talk the same way to every prospect. Think about what you want to say before you call but don’t have a standard script.
- Have a long list of prospects. Invest time in researching potential customers. Compile a big list that you can print out and go through—number after number after number.
- Make the call. You will have to deal with a lot of rejection, and that’s not easy. What matters is to make the next call. And then the next. The win will come.
Want to turn your cold calling skills up to 11? Read our cold calling sales tips for entrepreneurs and learn about the one best cold calling opening line you’ll ever read.
6 best trade show alternatives in 2021 — Downloadable infographic.
Our six trade show alternatives will help you get the right eyeballs on your product while staying at home—or in a coworking space.
We haven’t talked about the closest alternative to a physical trade show: the virtual trade show.
Although virtual trade shows have been a thing in Switzerland for some years, it’s never become prominent. We are waiting to see if COVID changes that. If it does, we will tell you all about how to succeed with virtual trade shows. Stay tuned!
For now, we wish you fun and success with your product presentations!
If you’re stuck, read our definite guide to finding new customers.