Virtual Trade Shows — the perfect venue?

By | May 6, 2008

Clearly simulations have a great place on Web sites, CD’s, etc. but in the past couple of years, I think the resurgence of virtual trade shows can provide an almost perfect venue for marketing simulations. I am in the process of vetting this idea, and have discovered a few things along the way.

First, from a technology point of view, the main software systems seem to all be Flash 8, so for me, that’s great news. I am in the process of updating my libraries to AS3, but realistically it will take a couple of months since that activity has to go on in the background (i.e., while I do the work that puts food on the table!).

Second, I’ve discussed the prospect of creating sims for various manufacturers, and while they are interested, there are some “trade show” goals that might get in the way. Almost invariably, the marketers want visitors to contact the booth sales people, naturally. So the marketers want visitors to be able to try things out, but not be too independent. I’ve found the message that resonates most being using interactivity to enter a prize drawing, or something that takes 30-60 seconds for someone to do, the endpoint being contacting a salesperson. This makes the most sense, since the ultimate goal of the show is the lead generation.

Third, surprisingly, I got an under-whelming response when I asked about tracking user behavior. I would have thought that understanding what people are doing in the booth would be a high priority. I don’t know if this response is due to my limited sample, my inability to ‘paint the picture’ for them adequately, or some real reflection of the market’s interest. I imagine their interest will be consistent with how much marketing intelligence they conduct ordinarily, and some industries will lead others. The question is how to sort through all these factors and find the visionary industries and companies within those industries. My impression is that it would be more useful to look at company profiles rather than expect an industry as a whole to get it.

I will be participating in my first virtual trade show next month (, and I’m planning on running some interesting experiments.

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