Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Virtual Trade Show - the Recap

Last month I participated in Oracle’s Virtual Trade Show. This was a first for me. Although I’ve done plenty of trade shows in person, I haven’t done one on-line, and wasn’t sure how it would work. We had very positive feedback on the event, which was great. I’d like to add a few additional thoughts.

The pluses:
Immediacy. Since I had a scheduled chat, there were several people in the session firing questions. I enjoyed the focus on our topic, and the chance to interact real-time with these people.
No travel! There is value in meeting people face to face, but not having to go to Orlando or Las Vegas for what was essentially a one-day event was a nice change.
Access to experts. Since this was done online, I was able to keep my instant messaging open. That way if a question came up that I wasn’t able to answer, I had the whole team available to ask.
Sharing. With an online discussion, everyone participating could see everyone else’s questions. That way I could answer once and everyone could benefit. Similarly, participants could see other content that maybe they weren’t going to ask and may have sparked some other ideas.

The minuses:
No feedback loop. I couldn’t see if my responses were meeting people’s needs unless they asked follow up questions. It was hard to gauge if I was giving good answers to questions.
System issues. We had a system outage midway through my chat session. Fortunately Danielle from our team was in the same room and online so she was able to relay the rest of my answer for me.
I can’t spell! I wanted to respond quickly in the chat, but that meant that my thoughts went faster than my fingers, and resulted in atrocious spelling errors.

On balance, I think the virtual trade shows was a creative idea, and something we should continue to explore. Although there were system issues, the opportunity to reach customers without requiring travel either for our staff or for our customers was a great experience. Big thanks to the Oracle marketing team for trying out this new approach and letting me participate.

No comments: