As fresh produce marketers, right now we’re anxiously asking ourselves the same question… what do I need to do to plan for a successful virtual Fresh Summit?
This has been the hot topic of discussion for ourselves and our clients recently and even though we are all understandably sad that we won’t be able to come together in person this year, see each other’s faces and toast to a great year (is 2020 over yet?), it’s arguably more important than ever for us to put our best foot forward when it comes to selling our products. Why? The products we grow and sell are a huge solution to our country’s health problems, and shoppers’ sights are set on healthy eating to boost their immunity more than ever before. As our industry’s “Super Bowl,” we see PMA Fresh Summit as a pivotal opportunity for fresh produce suppliers to show up and position their products as solutions to the buyers who will get them into the hands of consumers.
During recent conversations with both our clients and with the Produce Marketing Association about how to prepare for this show, a few key things surfaced for us that we want to make sure every exhibitor is considering over the next few weeks:
7 Things to Consider As You Plan for a Virtual Fresh Summit
1. Stay aware of timing & deadlines
First and foremost, it is important to be aware that if you are Silver level sponsor or above, the buyer preview is automatically available to you. This is a time when buyers will be able to login and access the show before anyone else - including you.
Specifically, Produce & Floral Buyers can begin previewing exhibitor content from suppliers Sept 28 - Oct 1. Solutions Buyers can log in Oct 2 - 6 to peruse as well. That means that if you are an exhibiting sponsor company, you need to have your Marketplace page set up by September 25 to ensure buyers are seeing the content you want them to see.
And finally, the show will open to ALL attendees on October 7 to allow for adequate planning prior to actual show dates of October 13-15 when programming will take place. It is also important to note that the virtual show platform will remain open for meetings and perusal beyond the show closing on October 15.
2. Keywords are pre-programmed and essential!
Rather than all of your online connections being happenstance or pre-planned prior to the show, the Fresh Summit virtual platform employs a matching-making technology based on pre-programmed keywords you select when you apply for your Marketplace page.
You will notice when you register that there’s a lot more questions than normal in order to categorize buyers and suppliers. Here’s how it works:
- Personal & Company Marketplace Page Keywords - Whether you are completing an application for a company Marketplace page or registering as an attendee/individual, the keywords are pre-programmed and available for you to select the categories that best represent your company and/or your motive for attending the show. You will be matched with people based on the categories you've chosen.
- What you click on - behaviors - The algorithm embedded in the virtual tradeshow platform takes what people are clicking on as another source for creating relevant recommendations. It will be valuable to have your sales team understand this so they can “work” all of their individual recommendations to make connections and send people to their Marketplace page.
3. Find value in Exhibitor "Add-Ons"
If you are level Silver or above, know that you can “add on” 3 key opportunities to your exhibitor package. This means that if you are Silver and want access to the Fresh Ideas Showcase, but the full upgrade to Gold isn’t right for you, you can still add this to your package! Here’s what you need to know:
- Fresh Ideas Showcase - $1,000
If you have a new product or innovation you want to feature, you should certainly consider participation in the Fresh Ideas Showcase! This area of the show will include a listing of new products and each will have it’s own small page to feature additional information + photos and/or video.
- Featured Product Demo - $1,000
If you are planning to host a product demo and want to make sure buyers know about it, this opportunity is right for you. This add-on gets your product demo marketed as a part of the main show schedule for all attendees to see.
- Pitch Sessions - $3,000
Pitch sessions are 3 minute pre-recorded videos that will be included in a 30 minute topical video bundle that buyers can watch during the buyer preview week based on keywords they have indicated interest in i.e. value-added solutions, organic, etc. Subject matter is key here in terms of determining your video content. Buyers will pick what is interesting to them from a needs perspective and then choose the pitches that they watch. We believe these pitch sessions have a lot of value and encourage exhibitors to consider this add-on. Note that the pitch sessions are NOT included in any of the participation levels, so this MUST be added on to participate!
4. Refine your messaging
Is your messaging as powerful as it could be? As buyers browse the Marketplace pages freely and uninterrupted during the buyer preview weeks, your messaging will be key to making you stand out because you will not have that face to face conversation to fall back on! Make sure messaging speaks to product benefits, not features, to capture buyers’ attention in a crowded space.
Notice how in this example, the copy focused on the product benefit is a lot more attractive to a buyer looking for solutions to their problems than the copy talking about the product itself. Check out this blog post for more insight into how you can position your messaging for maximum success or download a presentation from our recent webinar titled, "Telling Your Brand Story."
5. Make your video imperfect
Don’t let the pressure of having highly-produced video on deck deter you from creating new video content for the show. With COVID restrictions still making hiring video crews difficult for many operations, it’s okay to record Zoom videos or even give imperfect smartphone videos a try. Your audience might love the approachable, raw nature of it too. This goes for the 3-minute video pitch sessions as well if that is something you are participating in. For these videos, you should aim for balanced lighting and clear audio, but beyond that, focus on clear, succinct benefits-based messaging and product examples to give a visual frame of reference. Your Marketplace page will have a featured area at the top of the page that is just begging for video content. Get to work or contact our team for some help!
6. Get creative with promotions
There will be opportunities to get creative and add a little extra incentive for buyers to engage with you during the show. Each exhibitor will have the opportunity to add content to a special area or tab for buyers. The official name for this area of the show is still TBD and PMA will share these details soon, but you can think of it as a “highlight hub” or an area where buyers will go and see a list of ads that will draw them in to click and visit your marketplace page for more info. This is where you could feature a call to action for a giveaway, a live demo, or even highlight a consumer promotion you want buyers to know about.
Keep an eye out for more information and training videos from PMA to detail how this part of the show will work.
7. Embrace alternative ways to measure success
As with any marketing investment, we always recommend you look at as many measures of success as you have available to create a clear picture of marketing and sales ROI. For a virtual show like Fresh Summit, this means not solely focusing on any one measure of success, like traffic to your Marketplace page.
In addition to the traffic to your company’s page, consider measuring the number of meetings or new connections made through the platform’s algorithm. Look at your website’s analytics to see if you received any traffic to your website from the show. You should also consider how many actionable learnings your team took away from the show’s programming and educational content. Because there are no “booths,” many of us have an opportunity to attend education sessions that we wouldn’t normally be able to attend due to set up.
Last week our team hosted a webinar to walk through the considerations we’ve outlined here, along with more details about the different opportunities PMA is presenting this year. Click here to download the notes from this webinar for more details.
Let’s face it, we're all disappointed about our current realities affecting our industry's inability to come together in October for Fresh Summit like we usually do. At the end of the day, you will need to weigh your options and choose the course of participation in the show that is right for your company, but we hope you will lean into and consider the sales opportunities the PMA is working to provide so that as an industry, we can continue to get fresh, healthy food into more hands!