What is an online exhibition?

Due to Covid-19, traditional trade shows have been cancelled. This has caused lots of problems for the trade show industry and has led to the marketing of ‘online exhibitions’ as an alternative way to get information about your company and products to customers.

Can an Online Exhibition Replace a Trade show?

The simple answer is that it can’t, it’s just a webpage with information on it about your products and company (and those of your competitors) that people can find by searching online.

The only way to make it more like a real trade show would be to make it interactive with public video conferencing and having people available online to respond to customer inquiries, but this is not very practical.

In the internet age it’s more important that they find your company website and contact details directly than through an online exhibition that features lots of other competitors as well.

What’s the difference between an online exhibition and a marketing website?

There isn’t much difference. An online exhibition is a website, it’s just one where multiple companies are listed rather than being focused on one.

This does mean that it can be attractive to potential customers who want to see information on lots of companies in one place, but it also means that they have a lot more choice than if they find your company website because it is high up on their search results.

In practice customers will go to your company website regardless of whether they found you in an online exhibition or not.

 

So why are people trying to sell me ‘exhibition space’ at online shows?

Trade show organisers are trying to replace lost revenue. Calling the online service an ‘exhibition’ is just branding and marketing by the trade show organiser to try and get companies to keep paying them for services that they are familiar with and used to spending significant amounts of money on.

The fact that the services provided in online exhibitions do not provide the value of physical shows is not something that is of much concern to trade show organisers, but it is something that should be of concern to you as a business trying to sell products and services.

The ‘online exhibition’ branding takes advantage of the fact that companies are used to paying for face to face exhibitions and trade shows that are expensive because of the overheads in organization, space and facilities to charge much more than it actually costs to do online.

Will customers be more likely to find me through an online exhibition or through my website?

Customers are searching for products not exhibitions. So your website is more likely to be shown to searchers than the exhibition website for product searches, if it is properly set up and has great content.

How your website beats an “online exhibition” website.

Your website and the online exhibition are both just websites to Google.

Google is mainly focused on website speed, location and content when they decide what website to show people who are searching for products.

If your customers are in the USA or Europe and your website is there too (And contains well written content) your website will beat the “online exhibition” every time.

Try it:
Go to the google search bar and type your product name then hit enter and look at the results, no exhibitions visible…

Customers are also less likely to find you in an online exhibition as trade show organizers are not website specialists and generally do not have the skills and experience required to make the online show easy to find in web searches.

Should I pay for an online exhibition if I already have a great website?

That’s a very good question.

If your website is properly optimized for searchers to find you and has the right sort of design and content then there is no point in paying to be part of an online exhibition.

If you are very keen on the ‘online exhibition’ idea then you can just have a website that is a few pages that contains the sort of information that you would provide at a real world show and provide that link to exhibition organizers.

It’s probably more sensible to just have a well designed basic website that is well optimized for searches. There will probably be some customers who have bought into the ‘online exhibition’ brand, so will look for it as a term – if you want them to find you directly then having your own ‘exhibition’ page should achieve that without paying to join a specific online exhibition.

There must be some benefits to online exhibitions that make them worth paying for?

It’s hard to think of a benefit compared to simply investing the money in your own website and marketing content.

If customers are searching for products, they will find products first, not exhibitions.
Updating your website and making the product content easier for the search engines to find is a better way to invest your money.

If I’m not going to spend the money on an online exhibition, what should I do with it?

There are some things which are worth investing in, but you need to make sure that it is really investing in your company and delivering inquiries and not just ranking.

What Can I Do To Get More Inquiries?

  • Invest some of the exhibition budget in your own website. Get professional advice on how you can make it better to help you get inquiries for your products directly.
  • A professional marketing and web design company should be able to advise you on the type of content and structure you need to achieve your goals.
  • You will also need to invest in Google ads and SEO to make sure that your products are easily found by customers.

Which Marketing Services are a Waste of Money?

  1. Expensive paid marketing platforms which show your products and those of your competitors. Alibaba, GlobalSources etc.. If these platforms have a free option, you should take it, but don’t invest money in these as there is too much competition.
  2. Online exhibitions. As I have explained, you can do much better yourself, so please don’t waste your marketing budget on someone else’s website, invest in your own company instead.
  3. SEO services which are not about adding website content are not good and you should avoid them. Most SEO companies just connect your website to their own “cloud” of websites to create lots of “backlinks”. This is done to trick Google into thinking your website is popular. If you don’t have the content in your site though, then when customers visit it, they still won’t be impressed and won’t contact you.

I hope that this article has helped you to understand why online exhibitions are probably not a good investment for your company. If you have any questions about the content here, please let us know.

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