Building products company constructs ‘sustainable’ virtual event

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Objective: In 2007, BlueLinx Corp., a distributor of sustainable building products, was looking to launch PureBlue, its new sustainability program.

In order to set an example of sustainability, BlueLinx elected to use a virtual event platform for the launch, thereby obviating physical travel and achieving a zero carbon footprint.

“[The launch] was around sustainability,” so it was important for the company to avoid carbon emissions and wasting resources, said Shiloh Kelly, BlueLinx’s National Sustainability Lead.

In addition to using a virtual event platform, BlueLinx needed a provider with an easy-to-use platform. “We wanted a place our clients could go in that was simple to use and easy to understand,” Kelly said.

Strategy: Last July, after researching various alternatives, BlueLinx began working with Unisfair, a provider of virtual events, trade shows and online job fairs.

BlueLinx collaborated with Unisfair in March to set up a two-day, live, online show. The event featured four conferences, 40 exhibitor booths and a resource center with consolidated information on the building products industry.

“Unisfair’s platform is nice because it’s very intuitive and flexible for those who aren’t tech-savvy,” Kelly said, explaining that vendors could set up booths on their own without requiring the help of an IT staff.

It’s a step-by-step process that’s designed for a marketer, said Brent Arslaner, VP-marketing at Unisfair. “The sponsor portal includes a booth wizard—just add your logo, insert your RGB colors and select a template.”

Results: The outcome of the show was overwhelming, Kelly said. About 500 people registered, and more than 1,200 people attended the live event. Attendees spent an average of more than 60 minutes in the show.

The virtual show will likely become an annual event. “We’re trying to give an entire supply chain the most information around sustainability and building green,” Kelly said. Currently available in on-demand form until June 24, the event is open to anyone who wants access.

Since the live show, BlueLinx has had 450 unique visitors and more than 2,300 downloads of literature. Next month, the company will focus on a different target market: builders and remodelers.

“The back-end database information [of Unisfair] is very robust and allows BlueLinx to continue from here,” Kelly said. “If you look at other [platforms] that try to do the same, they’re not nearly as slick as Unisfair.”

Arslaner added that the adoption of virtual events in industries outside of technology and pharmaceuticals “speaks to the fact that [they are] becoming more mainstream.”

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