How Interpower builds its pipeline through virtual events

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Interpower Corp. manufactures power system components, selling products to engineering, technical and industrial professionals with a marketing mix that increasingly favors digital channels. “The customer is more in charge today than they ever have been in the past,” said Ralph Bright, VP-marketing. “They want their information when and how they want it, and it's our job to figure out the best way to spread the information across the board.” Time-strapped engineers no longer browse print publications or brochures, he said—and increasingly, they do not have time to browse the aisles of broadly focused face-to-face industry events. “Attendance has gone down across the board at the live shows,” Bright said. The company still invests in face-to-face marketing, but it also has added virtual events to its portfolio. Interpower exhibits annually at eight to 10 virtual events produced by IHS GlobalSpec, a digital media company that connects industrial marketers with buyers. The online events offer an advantage over the more-general audience of in-person events, Bright said. “For a live show, we have to bring in everything and the kitchen sink. For the online show, it's more targeted, more surgical and strategic,” he said. “We know that the people coming to the event are looking for power supplies.” The company builds virtual booths that serve as a source of targeted information, helping engineers quickly find and download the materials that they need. Interpower records an introductory video and stocks its virtual booth with educational materials such as white papers, product specifications and how-to videos. The company also directs customers to its website, where they can explore blogs and other digital content. Technical experts who might not be available to travel to events often log in and join the sales staff in the online booth. “The vice president of product development and all of our technical support specialists can be at the booth answering tough questions,” Bright said. “If it were a live show, we'd have to get back to those people with answers.” The virtual events each can feed up to 500 new leads into the Interpower pipeline, Bright said. “I can track them through my customer relationship management software and know how much business I got from the show,” he said. The company will invest in a single-sponsor webinar on the platform next year, Bright said, and has increased its level of sponsorship at the virtual events that it attends. “It has become a prominent part of the marketing program.”
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