How to be successful with Matchmaking in a digital world

September 7th, 2020

We expect the tradeshow industry to bounce back and tradeshows to be open again but that digital formats and matchmaking will play a bigger role. Whilst we all do not have a glass bowl and the future is not always predictable, we think it is clear that digital will play a stronger role when it comes to tradeshows. This inevitably confronts us with the question: How can exhibitors prepare for the post crisis time with this high degree of digitalisation?

One key change that can be expected is a digitalisation boost to all matchmaking related processes. In the past, the core of B2B matchmaking was nearly always face to face. People need to look each other in the eyes to build trust and conduct business. This was the strength of the tradeshow industry. Whilst we expect tradeshows to continue to play a big role in B2B matchmaking we also need to acknowledge that business matchmaking is always a journey and that many aspects of this journey will move into the digital sphere.

This will have two effects for exhibitors who try to sell their products and services:

  • The timeframe of matchmaking will expand: Many touchpoints of the matchmaking journey will be conducted in a digital format long before or after a tradeshow. A business matchmaking process might expand in length of time and will have more touchpoints between the potential buyer and seller before a final business match is agreed
  • The ways and the environment of matchmaking will partly change: Touchpoints between potential partners will move into digital formats such as webinars, one-to-one online meetings, virtual product tours etc. more frequently

The environment will be partly location independent and companies who feel confident to display and present their products online will have a new opportunity to stand out and to reach a wider audience. But how can exhibitors shine in such a new environment? Please use the following tips to get prepared and make the most out of digital matchmaking:

  • Chose the right environment to offer your products and services: There are many online formats you may use: Webinars, blogs, videos to present yourself or your topic; 1:1 meetings with selected potential customers via virtual channels, networking lounges or panel discussions to build relationships, to name just a few. Choosing the right environment to present your product or service is the first important step to be successful.
  • Review whether you combine a live and a digital experience: to present food or wine products for example, products could be sent to pre-selected VIP buyers and these products are then presented in a webinar. The same can be done for all products that can differentiate through tangibility. Such preparation will enable you to provide a truly hybrid setup in your webinar in which you can present your product whilst the potential buyer can enjoy it.
  • Make your matchmaking partner(s) curious: Preparation of your digital presentation is key. You must create an eye-catching promotion so that people join your online presentation. What is unique about your webinar? Why should someone spend an hour with you? Promote your webinar as a first touchpoint to your future customers with a clear USP and a strong elevator pitch approach.
  • Conduct your digital matchmaking in a well moderated infotainment set up: Make the webinar itself extremely engaging and interactive. Create an infotainment concept that provides both insight about your products and an entertaining time for your audience. Research has shown that people lose online interest after a view minutes only. That means that the pace and interaction of your online format should change all 7 – 10 minutes to keep the interest of your potential customer at a high level. Presentations of more than 15 minutes are not recommended. Feedback rounds or polls every 10 minutes are highly recommended.
  • Lead the matchmaking partner to the next step: Don’t forget that your digital matchmaking meeting is often only one step on the matchmaking journey. That means that selling your product should be not your primary goal. Building trust, nurturing a potential client, creating curiosity should be your targets so that the potential matchmaking partner is willing to go the next step with you on the journey. This next step can be a meeting at a tradeshow, a next online meeting, sending a sample of product, and in the best case the closing of a business deal. Plan what you think is the best next step and design your digital matchmaking meeting so that you achieve that next step.
  • Finally, never stop reviewing your approach, always go the extra mile: However successful your online presentation was, never stop asking yourself what you could do better the next time. Digital is a fastmoving environment and you always need to tailor and improve you approach if you want to belong to the best 10% of online matchmakers.

We wish you all the success. Companies who take these tips seriously can gain real competitor advantage and use the crisis as an opportunity. A crisis is change, which means it’s time that you change as well.

Matthias Tesi Baur, MBB Consulting Group, exclusive for SIPPO