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Attending IFE's Online Expo? Here's How to Use This Virtual Event To Keep Your Pipeline Full In 2020

The global pandemic has transformed the billion dollar exhibition industry.

Forbes reports that, to date, over eighty million attendees have been forced to change their event travel plans because of cancelled or postponed events.

But not surprisingly, considering the robust resilience of those working in the franchise space, International Franchise Expo is making lemons out of lemonade. For nearly thirty years, their annual event has drawn thousands of people from around the world to meet with leading franchise brands in New York City. And now this career changing event is available to attendees online.

It’s not just a family affair, it’s a digital only affair!

And for those attending, this event could be the catalyst that takes you, your business, or your franchise brand to the next level.

(Make sure to attend FranchiseHelp's virtual sales workshop, hosted by our Director of Strategic Growth, Alfonso Flores. Check out -- Portal Lead Generation With FranchiseHelp: Realities and Best Practices for Increased Lead Performance.)

Whether you’re an entrepreneur in the stages of buying a franchise, or looking to grow your small business through the franchising model, you won’t want to miss this event.

We sat down with Tom Portesy and Sheila Fischer from MFV, the parent company that puts on IFE, to talk about how attendees can get the most out of this online experience.

How has the pandemic impacted the exhibition industry right now?

Everybody is doing virtual events in every space. There’s one a day it seems. And our goal is to leverage all our strategic partners so we can still do much of what we typically do at our expo, minus a few activities that are impossible with the current logistics.

Ultimately, the goal here isn’t to make money, but to keep people’s pipelines full. Hundreds of franchise businesses were counting on the IFE in New York to generate a significant portion of their franchise sales for this year, and thousands of entrepreneurs were planning to attend. They can’t wait to have those conversations. When the dust settles, we want this event to put them in a position where they’re ready to close those franchise deals, not start the process.

When did the idea for the online expo originate?

As soon as it became clear that a physical show in May wasn’t going to be possible, we got to work figuring out how to bring it online. We knew we could use our existing platforms to build the virtual expo, so we took the bones of, gave it a facelift, and the result was an amazing online experience that attendees, sponsors and partners are going to love.

Ultimately, our secret sauce isn’t the fact that we rent the venue and offer exhibit space in a physical tradeshow. Anyone can do that. IFE’s ability is bringing qualified attendees to our shows, leveraging hundreds of strategic partners to get all those people in the doors. Other virtual events in the past twenty years haven’t worked particularly well, so we’re committed to leveraging our unique advantages to make sure this expo is a win for everyone. Frankly, the vehicle is irrelevant, whether it’s online, in person, fax or smoke signals, it’s all about qualified leads. We provide that so people can sell franchises and have a strong return on investment. And the good news is, since it’s typically such a herculean task in this day and age to get thousands of people to attend an event in person, now they have no excuse!

What are the differences and benefits to the online expo versus the in person show?

We’re only offering two conference tracks, versus the typical five. You’re either buying a franchise, or franchising your business.

Here are a few of the offerings:

  • Search for the perfect franchise opportunity, in every industry and investment level
  • Learn from experts in virtual educational sessions and view live presentations
  • Download educational information to share with your internal team
  • Visit hundreds of virtual booths, making connections with key industry contacts

If attendees and exhibitors want to get the most out of this event, they can work with our dedicated team to create a custom virtual booth. We’ll show you how to upload videos, brochures, and educational materials to showcase your brand. We’ll make it easy to market your franchise opportunity globally to qualified investors. And we’ll give you the digital infrastructure to interact with qualified prospects interested in your opportunity in a safe way.

What do conversations and interactions look like from a franchisor perspective?

Your booth at the online expo will be similar to a listing on BeTheBoss, where all the relevant information will be available to attendees visiting your page. The page includes information about your opportunity as well as your digital brochure for attendees to read and download. Unlike the physical expo, the online show will be open twenty four hours a day to accommodate international visitors. But you won’t need to staff your booth twenty four hours a day. You’ll be able to schedule meetings and webinars on your own schedule and invite attendees to join you at those times, or take a sidebar off the expo and continue the conversation wherever you like.

As a franchisor, you also have the opportunity to leverage paid media opportunities within the online expo. There will be banners that can follow users through the site, in the spirit of remarketing. Part of the exhibitor registration and confirmation process offers ad buying opportunities, and there are also featured exhibitor placements. If a franchisor wants to make their brand more known, we’re offering them a platform to do so.

How can you maximize follow up opportunities after the show?

Our technology of the online expo is the baseline, but each person and franchise is going to have their own way of managing leads. Our job is to facilitate the connections and then get out of the way. We want to empower exhibitors to channel these conversations directly into their existing franchise development program, to maximize their contact rate and generate the most meaningful conversations.

Franchise industry folks are smart, resilient and persistent, and we have no doubt that this expo is going to help them fuel their sales efforts so they can hit the ground running when the world finds its way back to business as usual.

How optimistic are you for this coming year in the franchise world?

Our clients are going to find it extremely challenging to keep their pipelines full during this unprecedented time, so our purpose is to continually devise solutions to help in generating quality leads. This online expo is one of those tools. While economic uncertainty remains steadfast, one thing we do know for sure is that franchising will bounce back.

Franchises tell us that they are excited to be part of this new platform which gives them the ability to promote their brand and interact with potential domestic and international franchisees while everyone is safe in their homes.

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Thanks Tom and Sheila!

We’ll see you and everyone else in the franchise community at the IFE Online Expo. Make sure to register now and get your virtual booth ready!

Remember, attend FranchiseHelp's virtual sales workshop, hosted by our Director of Strategic Growth, Alfonso Flores. Check out -- Portal Lead Generation With FranchiseHelp: Realities and Best Practices for Increased Lead Performance.

Scott Ginsberg is the Head of Content at FranchiseHelp. He will be in attendance for the IFE Online Expo, wearing his virtual nametag.

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