For decades, companies that sponsor and/or exhibit at traditional insurance tradeshows have followed the same routine:
- Shell out exorbitant attendance or booth fees and travel expenses.
- Wrangle the necessary staff to attend and to cover the office while you’re away.
- Only to return to their offices with a stack of business cards from people you barely remember.
How many of those new contacts do you follow up with? How many end up in a pile or a folder somewhere near your desk, but never hear from you again? Why is that?
The truth is that traditional networking techniques are going out of style as the wave of technology connecting professionals swells. And what’s more: People expect to connect virtually; they’ve steadily made it a part of their businesses. It’s time for the insurance industry to catch up!
Break the Cycle!
The insurance industry has recently seen an alternative to the trade show tradition: the Virtual Insurance Marketplace (VIM). The VIM tradeshow can be accessed over the Internet, making it so that neither you nor your staff has to leave the office to exhibit. And you don’t have to sacrifice that crucial face time, since networking is all conducted virtually.
A common question about traditional tradeshows is: How can I see the impact we’ve had? By being an exhibitor at the VIM, you get real, measurable results to substantiate your participation. You can see the number of people who visited your booth, downloaded your materials, clicked through to your website, and more. Try to pull comparable stats from a traditional tradeshow and you’ll find them to be sorely lacking.
But Does It Work?
Direct Connection Advertising & Marketing, the vehicle behind the Virtual Insurance Marketplace, has studied the numbers from the 2010 show and offers the following:
- Of 812 registered, 466 attendees (unique visitors) visited 875 times with an average length of visit of 33 minutes.
- Those visitors each stayed logged into the show to visit booths, see videos, download brochures, and watch presentations.
- 90% of the attendees watched at least 1 video and downloaded at least 1 brochure.
Each exhibitor is allowed to present their information in a variety of ways, just as they would at a traditional show. These might take the form of videos—most highly prized—document downloads, contests, chat with company reps manning the show or hits to their websites. Depending on how rich your booth is in its presentation—again, like a traditional show—you will see a higher rate of interactivity from visitors.
Let’s look at three example companies from the 2010 VIM. We can see from Figure 1 that Company C attracted nearly twice as many attendees as Company A. It’s important to compare those numbers to the way that each company presented themselves to the attendees. Figure 2 highlights this comparison in more detail.
We found that while Company A drew in the most sign-ups for their contest, Company B attracted the most click-throughs to their website and generated nearly double the downloads for their documents. However, Company B truly missed out by not offering a video to their visitors. Company C offered some form of interactivity in every area they could.
When we get into the specifics of the behavior attendees trended toward as they moved around the show, we get a better feel for how these statistics really help determine what you should be including as an exhibitor, what you should look for as an attendee, and overall, where the value really lies with a virtual show.
Perhaps one of the most valuable traits of a virtual tradeshow is that attendees can log in as many times as they like, at their convenience, over a period of time and interact with the exhibitors. We can see from Figure 3 that most tended toward mid- to late morning. What a great time-saver when it comes to planning!
In all the years that insurance professionals have poured their time and money into tradeshows. it has been difficult to quantify these valuable variables from a traditional tradeshow and even harder to prove the true efficacy of the traditional tradeshow. The virtual tradeshow platform offers an advantage here.
But Wait—What About Follow Up?
So you’ve exhibited at your first show, you’ve connected with a few hundred new colleagues, and you want to know how virtual tradeshows will help you better organize those new contacts, follow up with and market to them. At the end of the show, you can download a .CSV file with your attendees registration data, including their names and email addresses. You can do the same for anyone who participated in your competition or attended a presentation. Upload that to an email marketing program, enter them in your CRM, imagine the possibilities….
Insurance trade show attendees have typically wandered from booth to booth over a few days, speaking to other professionals and gathering information about innovations and products. At the end of the show, they would have various materials from the exhibitors. Attendees of the Virtual Insurance Marketplace can save exhibitors’ information directly to their computers, and that includes contact information, minimizing the amount of time they’ll spend following up from the show to organize what they got from the show.
Changing your perspective on the insurance trade show is all it takes to have a forward-thinking approach to reaching your market, networking with your peers, and publicizing your products. Take advantage of the outstanding opportunities offered in the Virtual Insurance Marketplace from February 8-10, 2012 and see how the virtual trade show experience can boost your insurance business.