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How consumer brands can use Chinese digital channels to support your virtual fair attendance

July 28, 2020 |   Ada Wang

Prior to coronavirus, trade fairs and exhibitions were important events where international brands could get their products in front of Chinese consumers as well as get to know their customers face to face. Unfortunately, these have been ruled out for the foreseeable future, with many of these events being forced to pivot online.

In the absence of these offline events, B2C brands must take advantage of virtual fairs to stay connected with their customers and remain front of mind. But just because you don’t have to leave the office or showroom doesn’t mean there still isn’t a lot of work involved in preparing for a virtual fair.

In order to get the most out of participating in a consumer goods virtual fair in China, your Chinese digital assets are particularly important. Here’s how best to leverage your Chinese digital assets before, during and after your next virtual fair in China to get maximum value from the event.

Before the event

Setup your Chinese digital assets

Thanks to the Great Firewall, none of your Western assets (such as your website or social media channels) are accessible in China. It’s crucial, therefore, to first setup your Chinese digital assets – most importantly your website and official WeChat account. Once you’ve setup your website and WeChat account, you can use these to promote your attendance at the virtual fair to your followers.

It’s also important to remember that all your marketing collateral needs to be digital as well. You may want to create webpages or even WeChat mini programs to showcase your product at the event. If you have the budget, you may want to take it a step further with videos or augmented and virtual reality. Remember, unlike at an offline event, people can’t try out the product for themselves, so you need to show your product in action as accurately as you can.

Engage with the organiser's official social media prior to the event

Most event organisers start using their official social media accounts (such as WeChat and Weibo) to promote the event in the months and weeks before the big day. Brands can use their Chinese digital assets to leverage this promotion, for example by sharing content from the event organiser’s account on your own account or using the official event hashtag to increase your brand visibility to their followers.

Purchase a media campaign package to drive traffic to your booth

Unlike at an offline event, at a virtual fair you don’t get the benefit of foot traffic. You may therefore have to work a little harder in order to drive traffic to your booth – and a helping hand certainly doesn’t hurt.

Most event organisers offer media campaign packages to help promote brands to their attendees, so if this is something your budget allows, we would strongly recommend considering it.

Incorporate your WeChat QR code into your virtual booth

In China, consumers typically require more touchpoints than Western consumers before they make a purchase. That’s why it’s important to grow your number of WeChat followers in order to maintain contact with your consumers. Be sure to incorporate your WeChat QR code onto your brand’s profile page in your virtual booth. Encourage your attendees to follow your official WeChat account as much as possible so you can continue to build on these relationships after the event.

Reach out to prospects prior to the event

Some virtual fairs, such as education fairs, offer live webinars or 1:1 virtual meetings so you can connect directly with other attendees. In order to ensure you make the most of the limited timeframe, it’s highly beneficial to try to book as many meetings as you can in advance, so that you can talk to as many people as possible. Use your digital assets to promote your attendance and encourage attendees to book their spots.

During the Event

Make the most of your assets

Here’s where you reap the benefits of all the time, effort and resources you spent preparing your digital assets, such as your website and WeChat account. Make the most of every opportunity to share these assets with attendees – send digital brochures directly to attendees, request that they follow your WeChat account, and direct them towards your website or WeChat mini program to show your product in action.

Participate in livestreaming to promote your brand

Livestreaming is extremely popular during Chinese trade fairs, particularly in the consumer goods sector, and this popularity has only grown in recent months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

If you decide to participate in the livestream section of the fair, consider how best to showcase your product. You can either get one of your own salespeople to host the livestream, or ask the event organiser to provide a KOL to host it for you – though this will of course come at a price. If you decide to get someone within the company to host the livestream, make sure you pre-plan your content to ensure your brand is well presented.

Offer giveaways or samples

Engage with attendees by offering giveaways or free samples. These can be great incentives to get people to, for example, follow your WeChat account during the event, or encourage them to ask questions during your livestream or webinar.

After the event

Send personalised follow-up messages

Post-event follow-up is vital, and the sooner the better – after all, the whole point of the event is to connect with people and build relationships. Be sure to send personalised messages to anyone you connected with on WeChat during the event.

Some hot tips for your post-event follow-up:

• Keep it short.
• Remind people who you are and what you discussed.
• Have a clear call-to-action (CTA) – for example, signing up to a loyalty program.

Create an event recap

Virtual fairs can provide a wealth of resources for content. Record any webinars, livestreams and 1:1 virtual meetings, and use this content to create an event recap video that can be distributed via your social media channels. Write a blog post about the event and post it on your website.

Continue to nurture your leads with engaging WeChat posts

Hopefully you gained lots of new followers during the virtual fair – but the work doesn’t stop there. Building relationships and trust takes time, and you need to leverage both online and offline channels to demonstrate your value. Be sure to produce engaging WeChat content on a regular basis so you stay top of mind.

Get started

As you can see, your Chinese digital assets, especially your website and WeChat account are key support tools before, during and after a virtual fair – in many ways, it’s not worth attending virtual fair without these assets to back you up.

But these assets aren’t important just for events – they will remain crucial for any brand looking to connect with Chinese consumers and grow their Chinese market, no matter what stage they are at.

If you are yet to set up your Chinese website or WeChat account, Sinorbis can help. Contact us today to find out more.

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