Podium

Digital trade fair

Bette Future Days, the digital trade fair

Dorothea Koch
Julia Freymark
Sven Rensinghoff, Marketingleiter Bette
June 21, 2021

They are location-independent, environmentally friendly and economical. Digital trade fairs demonstrate innovative power and are part of the event options of the future. As providers of creative impetus and long-standing partners, we supported Bette through its first digital trade fair, Future Days. How was a connection between people and the brand successfully established? Julia Freymark talks to Brand Strategist Dorothea Koch and Bette’s Head of Marketing, Sven Rensinghoff.

Early on, the pandemic showed that real trade fairs as we know them are shifting into the digital space. How did you approach that challenge?

Dorothea Koch: With a lot of creative brainstorming, analysis and mutual trust. We looked at other digital trade fairs beforehand to get a feel for the possible formats. This was completely new territory for us, a real challenge. A direct adaptation of conventional trade fair concepts into the digital space was not an appropriate solution. In the end, several concepts with which Bette could present its new products were created: live show formats, online seminars and question-and-answer sessions.

Sven Rensinghoff: When several creative people meet, conflicts of interest can sometimes arise. That was not the case at all on this occasion. Stan Hema provided us with good, professional support with the branding, naming and sound. We complemented each other well and achieved a result with which we are very satisfied.

Sensory experiences play an important role at real trade fairs. The haptics, sensations or the sound of a bath stay in the memory. All that is missing at a digital trade fair. How did you manage to establish a connection between people and brands?

Dorothea Koch: We were very authentic in our live formats, where customers could ask questions directly and thus became part of the performance. During the question-and-answer sessions, you and your team, Sven, were able to spontaneously respond to people, and it was great to see how you became more relaxed with each show.

Sven Rensinghoff: Thank you, Dorothea. Yes, we had to get used to the camera at first. Ultimately, we presented ourselves not only as a brand, but as the people behind the Bette brand. And under those circumstances, it’s OK if little mistakes happen due to the excitement. That makes us all the more likeable and the audience more open. In the end, one of my colleagues had 25 conversations over the two days. More than at a real trade fair!

What do you see as being the advantages and disadvantages of the digital trade fair?

Sven Rensinghoff: It’s great that qualitative content remains online afterwards. This allows important contacts who did not have time during the trade fair to access the information afterwards. You lose the feeling of the event, but with the digital trade fair, we can communicate regardless of the time, more quickly and more regularly. The fact that we know the number of attendees is another advantage. After Germany, for example, the most registrations came from the United Kingdom. Despite everything, we missed the immediate customer feedback the most.

Dorothea Koch: I agree. In addition, the digital trade fair brings fewer direct customers, who play a major role in profitability. The trade fair is no longer the highlight of the year. The experience factor is missing. Unlike with the analogue trade fair, there is also no ‘take-away’ effect. The most important industry meeting of the year almost becomes a digital corporate presentation without any real contact with competitors.

What are you taking away from the experience?

Dorothea Koch: Learning, learning, learning. For me, the virtual trade fair is an ideal playground for experimentation. That means looking at what is going on, collecting honest feedback and not being afraid to implement it.

Sven Rensinghoff: Absolutely! But playing and learning alone is not enough. One thing we have found is that lead generation is also hard sales work, which is why we should make even better use of customer tracking. And the question remains as to how we can better remain in close dialogue with customers in the future, even if we do so remotely.

Stan Hema and Bette have created a platform ready for what lies ahead with Future Days. The first obstacles have been overcome, and the digital infrastructure is in place. What’s next?

Dorothea Koch: The Future Days work is never done. The digital space is an opportunity for Bette to have a presence not just once a year, but throughout the year. Once the pandemic is behind us, there will also be analogue trade fairs again, of course. But the digital trade fair will remain with us and continue to develop, because it has become an important part of brand communication.

Sven Rensinghoff: I see things in a similar way. The future of the trade fair will be a hybrid solution – analogue and digital. We have to manage both in parallel without any loss of quality. Although the amount of time we put into Future Days was high, the financial expenditure was lower than at a major face-to-face trade fair. In a year’s time, we will have a far slicker approach to the task we are faced with. Fundamentally, the online formats will continue to exist. Above all, video will become indispensable as a way to reach a large number of people quickly in the future. A live show is a different experience to just leafing through a catalogue. Digitally, you can still have the feeling of ‘being there’ – even if only via a screen.

Thank you, Dorothea and Sven, for taking the time to talk to us.

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Julia Freymark
Storytelling
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