Amusement Expo, the largest arcade-focused trade show in the US, has postponed for a second time due to COVID-19. Normally held in March, the show was moved to early May, and now has been pushed to June 28-30th 2021, in Las Vegas.

If you sell to the amusement trade, read on.

Research from Firestone Financial this year shows 69% of operators use trade shows to discover and buy new products. And while 2/3 say they plan new purchases in the next year, and 45% say their budgets are the same or higher than 2019, more than half say they have no intention of going to Amusement Expo 2021 or any other live event next year.

What’s a marketer to do to connect with new customers? Less than 24% of sales emails are opened. It takes on average 18 calls to connect with a buyer. Amusement Expo and other trade shows were one of the most efficient means of finding people who want to buy your product.

Amusement Trade Show

Virtual events have let us down so far

I’ve helped launch dozens of products at Amusement Expo and other shows over my 35-year career. When I realized back in April that trade shows would be gone for a while I started working on a solution.

Virtual events held the promise of making up for live events. But while the education programs have been great, exhibitors and sponsors tell me they’re not getting leads. In fact, most of them have told me that virtual events have been a waste of their time.

I have found a solution

I suspected back in April that Amusement Expo 2021 would likely be postponed into the second half of the year. I’ve run a bunch of test events, including a launch of the new Star Wars VR game with VRsenal, and the Virtual Orlando Social Crawl in November. My team has studied the data, interviewed attendees and exhibitors, and have created a model for what I believe will lead to successful trade show exhibitions for any company willing to follow the program and do the work.

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Part of the problem has been the companies’ approach to exhibiting at virtual events. Since they cost less, they invest less time, effort, and energy in them. You reap what you sow.

But the biggest challenge is we don’t have best practices to follow to generate engagement, leads, and sales at a virtual event. On Thursday, December 17th, that’s going to change.

A Five Step Plan to Trade Show Success

I am holding a free virtual event from 9 AM Pacific/ Noon Eastern Time, where I will teach you how to succeed in exhibiting and sponsoring virtual events. There are five components to the plan.

  1. Entertainment and Giveaways – You need to have fun, engaging, and rewarding activities programmed for your booth to attract traffic.
  2. Product Showroom – You need to have a decent video setup where you can actually demo your product, answer questions live on camera, and engage with interested potential customers.
  3. Keynotes and Panels – You have to run some kind of thought leadership program in your booth. Could be special guest keynotes, or a panel of your customers.
  4. Dinner and Drinks – just because it’s virtual doesn’t mean you cannot entertain your best prospects and customers.
  5. Digital Retargeting – also called remarketing, this is where anyone who engaged with you at the show sees your ads everywhere they go on the web.

Come to my free Real Engagement at Virtual Events program on December 17th, where I will give you specific examples and tools to run this program. I will also be moderating a panel with some of the industry’s top sales and marketing executives about their experience with parts of this program.

  • Yoni Koenig, VP Sales, and Marketing, VRstudios
  • Jeremy Pond – COO, VRsenal
  • Maya Plots – Senior Manager of Integrated Marketing, Player One Amusement Group
  • Brian Duke – Senior Sales Partner, Semnox
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ShowUp while waiting for trade shows to return

This event is completely free. It is my hope that if you were planning on exhibiting at Amusement Expo 2021, you consider using this program at the ShowUp social convention and trade show on Feb 1-3 to kick off your 2021 sales pipeline. But even if you don’t participate in ShowUp virtual events are here to stay. When live events come back in real life, event organizers agree that every show will have a virtual component. To be an effective marketer, you will need these skills.