By Joe Cogliano
The tradeshow season was just about to go into full swing in the spring of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began to wreak havoc across the United States. By summer, virtually all face-to-face events — a mainstay for water and wastewater solutions providers to connect with industry professionals — had been canceled for the year.
The lack of events upended the marketing plans of most companies, forcing them to dive into the unfamiliar territory of virtual formats.
Water Online responded with its inaugural Virtual Water Expo, which took place in four sessions over two days in August. The sessions, which averaged about 500 attendees each, showcased presentations from nearly two dozen leading water and wastewater technology providers. It covered a wide range of topics and solutions including treatment, fluid handling, remote monitoring, digitization, and more.
Because of Water Online’s extensive reach, presenters were able to introduce solution specifics to a highly targeted audience during the live event and collect valuable lead information on those attendees. Additionally, an on-demand option to view the event remains online and available for sharing through social channels.
With the pandemic yet to get fully under control going into the 2021 tradeshow season, live events are likely to be disrupted again. But with so many platforms offering virtual events, how can water and wastewater companies get the most exposure for their marketing dollar?
Here are five key areas in which Water Online virtual events offer significant advantage and value:
- Platform. Water Online is a recognized name in the water market with an extensive subscriber list of water and wastewater professionals and the ability to promote events through its website, newsletters, and social media. Because it’s an established and trusted brand, Water Online attracts an engaged audience.
- Organization. With its extensive editorial knowledge, and with a critical mass of companies as presenters, Water Online can organize themed sessions that position each presentation to reach the target audience that make the most sense. At the 2020 event, there were four distinct sessions aligned with four distinct audiences.
- Technology. Offering a virtual event with a host in one location and 23 presenters across the country was a massive production, but Water Online was able to pull it off. An entire team was dedicated to preparation for weeks leading up to the 2020 expo and the final product came together with relatively few issues. When there was the occasional technical glitch, the professional production team made split-second decisions that kept presentations flowing.
- Host. It’s not enough to just attract an audience. A virtual event needs a charismatic, quick-thinking host who can handle the Q&A portion of each presentation, keep the event moving, and make a connection with the audience. Water Online Publisher Travis Kennedy fits that bill.
- Reporting. After the 2020 event, presenters knew exactly who was in their audience because Water Online post-event reporting supplied the names, organizations, and titles of attendees for each session.
Virtual events will never replace the intimacy of face-to-face events, which allow for browsing, random conversations, running into people you haven’t seen for years, or seeing a piece of equipment up close and asking questions. However, as the world returns to normal during the next few years, many experts believe the future of tradeshows will be a hybrid of in-person and virtual events.
During this transition, Water Online will continue to adapt its virtual events to continue to play a pivotal role for water and wastewater solutions providers.
Click here to contact Water Online for more information on its next Virtual Water Expo.