We are all aware that life has changed dramatically in the past several months due to the spread of Covid-19. For those of us in the dental world, including dentists, dental technicians, assistants, hygienists, manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and dental salespeople, one thing has been made very clear. We are all going to be attending dental meetings virtually for some time.
The format of the meetings is evolving from the most modest type, offering lectures, webinars, and product demonstrations through Zoom or similar platforms, to those that involve virtual booths and even virtual happy hours.
Whip Mix has been very busy preparing our presentations, designing the backgrounds, shooting photos of new products, videotaping (is there still such a thing as videotape?) segments for the virtual booth, and making sure we have the right people manning the “booth” and standing by to answer all of your questions. Though we have offered webinars for years, like most companies, we have never been part of or hosted a virtual trade show meeting with all its complexity. So, we needed to educate ourselves.
We knew it would be necessary to redefine how we appear, present, and create a user experience on a computer screen. It’s quite different from when you are standing face-to-face with potential customers. We needed to promote not only our lectures and demonstrations as we would in a conventional trade show, but the actual booth itself. How would it appear to the visitor? What products would be featured that would, or would not, be shown during a live booth experience. And, how do we maintain our corporate identity on a small screen?
Of course, when attendees visit our booth, it isn’t by chance that they come across us as they mosey along in an aisle. In a virtual show, they would locate us in an exhibitor listing, click on our company logo, and find themselves looking at a rendering of a physical exhibit layout (some are more detailed and realistic than others). Once there, there are several ways we can enable the visitor to learn about our offering. One way is to have them click on representative pictures/drawings of our displayed products or presentations which bring them to a page that reveals pictures and a description, and perhaps a promotional offering. Another way is for them to click on our booth’s name logo which will bring them to a similar page of products that can be clicked on and explored.
Since we aren’t actually there with the attendee, we realize that it’s critically important to keep the level of engagement up to what everyone is used to at live shows. For example, in addition to brochures and other forms of literature, we would need to offer a way for the attendee to actually “speak” with one of our company representatives. This can be accomplished by email, live chat, Zoom, or even telephone to answer questions and talk about the products, all with the “click” of a mouse.
It’s easy to get lost at live trade shows, especially when trying to find the breakout rooms in a large venue. Attendees can follow maps in a program book or find their way by physical hall signs to help guide them to the various lecture halls and rooms where presentations are offered throughout the days of the show. Often, host staffers are even around to help attendees find their way around the venue. The same thing can happen at virtual meetings, only through software.
Like them or hate them, virtual meetings are here to stay – at least for a while, so we are resigned to make the most out of them. We all can’t wait to visit with our dental friends in person again, even if that means exchanging our pajama bottoms for real pants!