Article tools: Share:

Exhibitor Success in a Virtual Setting

Español | Translation Sponsored by TCA

With the 2020 Tilt-Up Convention and Expo going virtual and taking place in The Aggregate, exhibiting companies were challenged to find new ways to present products and technologies to the industry. Despite being unable to gather in person, companies used this opportunity to connect with their key customer bases and develop new sales tools that will contribute to their success for years to come. (For more information about The Aggregate, please visit

From deciding to participate virtually to getting their teams accustomed to the new platform, exhibitors showed up with open minds to maximize the online space and their presence at the event. During the event, many exhibitors advanced their businesses by presenting new marketing materials and arranging individual meetings with potential customers. 

To further investigate their approaches, the TCA interviewed several exhibiting companies to learn more about their experiences. 

TCA: When you learned that the 2020 Tilt-Up Convention and Expo was going to take place virtually in The Aggregate, what made you decide to participate?

Connect-EZ: First and foremost, we knew we wanted to continue to support the Tilt-Up Concrete Association. But secondly, and equally as important, we valued the opportunity to be able to interact with our customers and peers during these unprecedented times.

Custom Rock Formliner: We understood that in order to have any kind of event this year, the decision to go virtual had to be made quickly or the TCA could risk not being able to have any [event] at all. We saw the demo of the virtual tradeshow and were excited that it might bring in both new attendees and more attendees due to eliminating cost and time of traveling to one location for the show.

GluDown, Inc: GluDown prides itself on being an innovative company and we felt that this opportunity aligned perfectly with our company culture of embracing new technologies. Also, we feel that there is a place for [a] hybrid model in the future where attendees can be a part of the event both in person and virtually, and we wanted to be at the forefront of this change.

Helix Steel: We wanted to remain connected to the industry and also support the TCA given all the support we have gotten from the organization over the years. Our goal was to begin bringing what we did at the 2018 demo to broader markets. We have a big gamer in our sales group (Erica Marr); she helped us get our booth set up and encouraged us to get into it!

Innovative Structural Solutions: We were unsure what would happen with the 2020 convention after the emergence of coronavirus. Initially, we were hopeful that it would proceed as [it] had been planned, but as time progressed it became obvious that an in-person event would not be possible. We received a call from the TCA, and they explained the situation and that they had settled on The Aggregate as a way to try and replace as much of the experience as possible. We were initially hesitant to participate as no one in our company had ever been in a virtual world. This was also our first year being a part of the conference, and we had been really excited to have the full, in-person experience. However, we quickly saw the great effort the committee was putting forward to provide education, networking, tours, etc., and this helped us feel confident that the experience would be worthwhile.

White Cap: We have had a long relationship with the TCA that has benefitted us over the years. We feel that TCA has stood by us and worked hard to help everyone grow together. We wanted to support TCA in this critical time. Knowing that TCA was choosing The Aggregate as their virtual platform was just icing on the cake. We knew that it would encourage more interaction then a conventional virtual event.

TCA: What changes did you make to prepare for the virtual event vs. an in-person event?

Connect-EZ: We improved our graphics and developed several short video clips. We spent time exploring the virtual world and becoming comfortable as avatars.

Custom Rock Formliner: We worked on our PowerPoint/video presentations and prepared to have discussions with attendees [who visited] our booth from our remote offices.

GluDown, Inc: We prepared new training and product videos that could be easily sent to attendees and people who visited our booth.

Helix Steel: We actually sent physical mail to every member with a sample of our product. Although we could have potentially done this through the gift box that the TCA sent out, we wanted everyone to receive our letter, brochure, sample, and invitation to our booth separately. We also invested in the promotional video submission; we wanted to be sure that we would be highlighted in unique ways that were not necessarily advertisements. Finally, I worked on an AIA/RCEP-accredited presentation to try and provide value to those who needed continuing education—trying to give back, not just sell. Additionally, we arranged to work with Tilt Wall Ontario to highlight Helix applications in walls.

Innovative Structural Solutions: We obviously had to adapt a lot of our marketing materials and our approach to interacting with attendees. We researched what opportunities would be available at the conference and tried to find ways to participate in as many of them as possible. We also spent time before the conference making sure that we could use the platform in an efficient manner. With the change, we were really excited for the opportunity to have as many people from our company participate as possible, and so we also spent time arranging our schedules to maximize our regular workflow so everyone could attend lectures and networking events. 

White Cap: We tried to prepare content for our booth that would have a greater impact, including preparing a special video for job-site disinfection and worker-COVID protection. Since there was no travel involved, we had associates from all over the country participate.

TCA: How did those changes help you succeed in the virtual setting?

Connect-EZ: All and all, we were able to navigate the venue pretty seamlessly. Since we had been in the expo hall multiple times, we had the ability to assist others. Jennifer spent time at the information desk and this allowed her to “see” a lot of people during the show. 

Custom Rock Formliner: The virtual setting was remarkably easy to navigate, and we spent some time in the days leading up getting used to the “new world.”

GluDown, Inc: In a virtual space you need to provide information that is easy to digest [and] share, and [that] can be quickly referenced in the future. Our new videos are a 24-hour training and sales tool for us.

Helix Steel: The mailings did attract people to the booth. We also had several people come to the booth after our presentation with Tilt Wall Ontario who were familiar with them and interested in working with us in a similar way. When attendees visited our booth, we used that opportunity to set up individual meetings in world, where we were able to secure more formal meeting[s] with a certain individual or the entire firm. Since the TCA event we have secured meetings with several large firms interested in tilt and other applications, in part due to the awareness we generated at the booth and in the presentation.

Innovative Structural Solutions: We were able to come up with some fun marketing ideas, which we are continuing to use outside of the virtual world. Our team members all felt comfortable interfacing with the program, and we made lots of contacts and learned a great deal from the lectures. 

White Cap: We tried to tie in current topics and subject matter to get more engagement with the contractor community. In addition, we were able to include more of our specialists from across the country to attend seminars and be there to answer questions.

TCA: As far as virtual-event platforms go, how would you compare The Aggregate vs. other online platforms you may have experienced?

Connect-EZ: Although nothing beats an in-person event where you can see people, gauge their reactions, and shake their hands, The Aggregate was well done. The graphics were of a high quality and the world and avatars were realistic.

Custom Rock Formliner: The only other platforms we’ve been involved in are Zoom-type meetings, which have a hard time keeping participant[s] [engaged] for more than an hour or so at a time. The short exhibit hours over four days in the exhibit hall worked great because our staff could get all their other work done while focusing a couple hours in the middle of the day in the exhibit hall with attendees. We saw a lot of familiar faces and met a lot of new potential customers. It was a very productive event for us. I hope we can keep some element[s] of the virtual event available for people that cannot justify the cost or time of the travel to subsequent TCA conventions.

GluDown, Inc: We only attended events produced by The Aggregate this year, however, we felt the layout was great and it was easy to use.

Helix Steel: It’s way better than a static Zoom-type platform for a trade show in my opinion. There is no way to engage customers efficiently with a static event unless you are in a meeting with them already for some other purpose. I think the static system is OK for something like a committee meeting, but not an event like this. It is interesting how the trade show floor works almost like a real trade show…I actually chased after a prospect I wanted to talk with when he passed my booth!    

Innovative Structural Solutions: For better or worse, this was the first virtual platform anyone from our company had ever used, so we have nothing to compare it to. It worked well for what our needs and expectations were. 

White Cap: It is by far more engaging and interactive than any [others that] I have participated in. It adds an element of fun to an otherwise dull experience. But it still would not have worked if not for the tireless efforts of the TCA to bring the added energy and engagement it needed to make this event work. My experience with other virtual events has not been very positive. They lack so many of the things that you miss from an in-person event. But when I was first introduced to the avatar-based platform, I knew the TCA was on to something unique. It was a way to stand out from the myriad of other virtual events and Zoom meetings [that are] so representative of the current times.

For more information about the 2020 Tilt-Up Convention and Expo, and to view a full list of exhibiting companies, please visit

Leave A Comment

Get Connected

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Connect with us on LinkedIn
Subscribe to us on YouTube


About us

TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.