So last fall, the IT security publication integrated its SC World Congress Conference and Expo (SCWC) with a continuous virtual trade show environment called SCWC 24/7 and committed resources to hosting monthly live events within the virtual environment. The brand also offered a compelling introductory pricing package to live-event exhibitors that would participate in the virtual trade show for 12 months.
Prior to the shift, SC Magazine's virtual trade shows were attracting about 10 exhibitors, while the SCWC physical event had 60. Today, SCWC 24/7 has 30 virtual exhibitors.
“We created an introductory rate on a cost-per-lead basis, and we guaranteed a minimum of 100 leads, knowing we would probably produce about 300 over the course of the year,” Torren said. However, his objective was not only to increase the number of virtual trade show exhibitors; he also wanted to educate exhibitors on how to use the virtual environment and create “champions” within their companies.
“Our clients look at virtual trade shows as a great way to drive leads, but we want them to be less passive,” Torren said.
The SC World Congress, launched in December 2008, was the first physical trade show and conference ever held by SC Magazine. With 60 booths, the event was considered a success, especially in light of the crash in the financial markets that had hit only a few months earlier.
Meanwhile, SC Magazine was developing virtual events. “We held our first one in June 2007, which was the only one that year,” Torren said. “In 2008 we did two, and six in 2009.”
In planning for 2009/2010, the team scheduled SCWC for October 2009 and decided to launch SCWC 24/7 the following week. “We advised exhibitors at the physical event to tell people that someone from their company would be available within the virtual environment to answer questions and continue the conversation,” Torren said. “Since it's a once-a-month activity, they should be able to develop a strategy to interact within the environment over the course of the year.”
Although the SCWC 24/7 virtual trade show is available continuously, each monthly virtual conference is a distinct event with a different theme and content. “Our investment each time is between one and two editorial sessions and between one and 10 vendor-led sessions,” Torren said.
The virtual conferences are planned in much the same way as a live conference, with editors offering ideas for sessions and SC Magazine's event team recruiting speakers, collecting materials, marketing the event and so forth. Like physical events, the virtual events offer attendees the opportunity to earn free continuing professional education credits, Torren noted.