Industry trade shows have been integral parts of business for many years.  They become annual pilgrimages for businesses and their marketing teams to advance their brand, connect with prospects and customers, announce new products and keep a pulse on the market.  They often take many months of planning to optimize the returns given their typical high cost and time investments.

While by no means a replacement of the substantial in-person and face-to-face impacts and other logistical and physical benefits that trade shows provide, digital B2B marketplaces can offer some surprisingly strong and similar benefits at a mere fraction of the cost and time.  They should be viewed as an augmenting channel, providing interim engagement and marketing opportunities, in-between the live events and by no means are a replacement of them.

How are they similar

The concepts of a trade show and a digital B2B marketplace are very similar:  Offer a common space where a large number of providers can setup and control their presence.  Assemble a large and focused audience of business buyers who can efficiently locate, view, and connect with a vast number of providers in a concise amount of time within that same space.

An important point to make on the digital B2B marketplaces that are referenced here, they are those that are true interactive marketplace platforms with substantive functionality, not the more simple business directories that are often very static and less interactive.

The benefits

Let’s take a look at some of the typically cited key benefits that providers gain from trade shows and see how digital B2B marketplace platforms can similarly provide:

1.New Sales lead generation

Providers can quickly and easily setup a presence on the platform (their digital booth in affect), which resides in front of a large and engaged audience of focused business buyers, assembled by the platform on their behalf.  Buyers are able to use the platform’s various digital tools to efficiently and quickly locate, review and connect with the providers, leading to new sales leads.

2. Elevate and broaden brand awareness

These platforms provide an additional opportunity for providers to provide visibility of their company and for buyers to experience and interact with the provider’s presence and brand.  This presence sits contextually within a targeted market/business segment environment and amongst other established and respected brands.

3. Direct visibility and interaction with your target market and buyers

These platforms assemble a very large and focused audience of business buyers for a targeted market or industry segment.  The platform’s strong marketing, social media and SEO activities and campaigns help to assemble buyers relevant to the providers and are not diluted with consumer or non-related industry buyers.

4. Market/competitor analysis and research

With the large number of providers assembled in a common space, providers can quickly and efficiently view others in their market, their goods and services and their market positioning.  This provides them the critical intelligence needed to continue to keep tabs on the market and how to better position themselves against their competitors.

5. Sit directly alongside the most respected brands

The common space created by the platforms provide a more “level” playing field, allowing both emerging and established brands to sit directly alongside each other.  This helps to provide important exposure, brand awareness and the ability to gather critical competitor intelligence as outlined in benefits #2 and #4 above.

6. Network and build relationships with other providers for new partnerships

There is often a broad base of industry providers gathered by these platforms, who offer goods or services that may directly supply or compliment another’s business, especially if the platform is for a vertical market.  Providers are also buyers and these platforms similarly allow them to also locate, review and connect with these complimentary providers to create new business partnerships.

7. Deepen relationships with existing customers

Arguably, this benefit is mostly attained by trade shows as they provide the critical in-person and face-to-face connections and are difficult to duplicate in a digital or virtual world.  However, these platform’s social and community features can provide an additional channel for providers to remain in front of and connected to their existing customers, beyond their own websites, in between these live events.

8. Educate your customers and prospects

These platforms offer rich multi-media, social features and more extensive and flexible description, external link and image functionality.  These can be used to provide customers and prospects with additional and interactive ways to highlight their differentiators, educate them on specifics of of their products or services, all from within the platform vs. having them to visit multiple different websites.

9. Announce and test new products

While trade shows offer that “wow factor” in announcing new products, these platforms can also be used to more immediately announce and promote new products in between the live events.  With the social and community features offered by these platforms, providers can interact with existing customers and prospects and gain desired feedback quickly.

Also, a great thing about digital B2B marketplace platforms, is they are open and available 24/7, 365 days a year! No tearing down the booth and traveling home!

Marketers should seek out and consider joining those digital B2B marketplace platforms that are focused on their industry and that offer the more interactive and value-add features discussed here. This digital space is advancing and maturing quickly with these additional and innovative channels offering a great return respective of the little-to-no costs and minimal time involved.

CannaMPx is a digital B2B marketplace and business hub for the cannabis and CBD ancillary goods and services market segment.

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