Whether it is
observational or primary research one can plainly see that along with
everything else we are exposed to in today’s ever modulating
environment, healthcare exhibiting is changing. What can we learn from
this uncertain environment? There are some best practices that standout
and should be noted in planning your next convention.
prompts visitors to take time out of their convention schedule to come to
(a) the exhibition floor in general and (b) to stop and visit your
exhibit, specifically. Understanding HCP’s motivation is critical.
takes proactive engagement to get visitors to become involved in your
exhibit’s interactives and exhibit elements.,
Interactives that are unstaffed don’t work no matter how high-tech.
Unqualified interactions are merely information dumps with no lasting
impact on the attendee or the exhibitor. No behavior change will occur.
order to affect change in use, prescribing, purchasing or recommending
there has to be new learning.
Graphics that are audience focused and benefits driven, generate attention
and booth visitation
Sponsorships that have attendee interaction have higher memorability than
Educational & medically relevant promotional products that are taken and
not given, yield nothing, but increased exhibiting expense
Promotional products that are over-attracting and nonselective create
clutter and congestion in the exhibit.
prearranged appointments at your events – you start the conversation
before they arrive at the meeting.
combined with convention exhibiting extend your strategic reach.
A. What prompts
visitors to stop at your exhibit – understand their motivation?
The top five reasons why HCP’s stop at healthcare
exhibits are: (1) happenstance – the visitors are walking around the hall,
seeing who is there and stop by chance. They see something of interest – a
graphic – an interactive, a rep engagement, a challenge, a demonstration
that attracts them as they walk by the exhibit. (2) To see what is new –
they are on a mission to take in what is new and plan their stops
depending on who promotes new products or offerings in their exhibit. (3)
Name recognition – they recognize your name and stop to see what you are
offering that might be new or different from the past since they are
already familiar with your brand, your company or even your offerings. (4)
Product interest - they have an interest in your product or service and
have it on their agenda to stop to learn more about it. And, (5) they
have specific questions about specific products or want to see a demo of
You need to know why
attendees visit your exhibit so you can plan the exhibit more
strategically. If you understand their agenda, you can focus your exhibit
and the interactives to selectively attract those visitors you really want
attendees a reason to stop
your demo out in front and make it visible
a design and configuration that makes your selling stations and booth
elements easily recognizable and accessible.
Determine what type of communication(s) resonates with your audience so
you can deliver a “call for action” to which they will respond.
your hierarchy of graphics to communicate, who you are, what you do and
what are you offering so that attendees will self-qualify themselves.
It takes proactive engagement to begin the process
Shortly the world of
healthcare exhibiting will be changing with the new PhRMA Guidelines. No
longer will exhibitors have the “neat and nifty” promotional products that
have been a “crutch” for reps to engage visitors over the years. Some
startling statistics will frame this most critical element:
70-96% of attendees are engaged by a rep immediately up entering an
exhibit. Some initiate the dialogue with a rep.
7-14% are acknowledged, but not engaged
2-10% are ignored
Nothing in an exhibit happens unless an attendee is engaged. That
engagement starts 15-30 feet away. It starts with the attendee looking at
the exhibit – the exhibit’s #1 role is to attract visitor’s attention.
Then the staff’s eye-to-eye contact that shows interest or at least
acknowledgement, a smile that communicates openness, a nice firm, warm
handshake that is not a bone-crusher that delivers the message of
confidence and finally a verbal welcome that initiates the conversation.
the preparation weeks before the show, not just the night before the show.
staff that have good exhibiting skills. If you don’t select the staff,
provide a checklist of characteristics you are seeking to those that are
doing the selecting.
expectation during your preshow briefing regarding engagement.
the preshow briefing provide hints, tips and techniques to help the staff
overcome staff reluctance to engage by becoming more comfortable in this
a booth walk-through before the show opens so that everyone is familiar
with the exhibit elements that will create a positive attendee experience.
the exhibit floor traffic slows, engage even more actively. Even though
the seminar programs are in session, there are qualified prospects and
current customers on the convention floor. Many attendees chose to come
to the exhibit floor when it is less crowded. Take advantage of this
positive engagements. Starbuck cards are great rewards.
C. Unstaffed Interactions
No matter how high tech the interaction, unless staffed they don’t
resonate with attendees. Adults learn best when they have an experience.
Whether it is an e-detail, an electronic quiz or challenge, interactive
case studies, or a product demonstration, it cannot exist on its own. It
needs rep assistance to meet and greet, identify the attendee’s agenda,
and the use the experience to engage the attendee in the solution.
the question: What is the role of the interactive?
enough staff to cover all the interactives all the time.
the staff to use the interactives so they can communicate at a higher
level or to uncover attendee agendas.
the interactive “edu-taining” so they learn at the same time they are
D. Unqualified Interactions
Unless you have
qualified the attendee with whom you are speaking, you are just conducting
an “information dump” on someone who cannot help you achieve your
exhibiting objectives and will waste your time. 16-37% of attendees have
no role in the purchasing process.
Understand the prospect profile – whom are you seeking among the net
attendees at a convention.
what characteristics make an attendee qualified and determine if they
possess them before entering into an extended dialogue. It OK to be
cordial and friendly, but to spend an extended period of time with someone
who is unqualified to meet your objectives, doesn’t pay in the end.
attendees are not qualified or at least qualifiable, disengage positively
and look for a qualified prospect.
E. Graphics need to be benefit oriented
The role of graphics
is to be the magnet for attracting visitors’ attention to an exhibit.
Graphics need to be attendee focused so that the expo visitors can relate
to them, deliver information about who the exhibitor is, what they do and
what they offer. When they do this, then graphics help self qualify
attendees so they engage in the process of getting one step closer to
Attendees only notice exhibit graphics that are benefit oriented – the
messages are focused on them and not the exhibitors.
graphics that are designed for exhibits, not for print or other media and
then adapted to your exhibit. They don’t work in this medium.
Graphics need to be:
lingering question the attendee wants answered therefore visits the
enough fonts to be read from the aisle
goal in creating a graphic is to make every other graphic in the hall look
second best. This will create longer term memorability.
Learning something new
convention research, we know that in order to affect change, attendees
need to learn something new – a new message related to results from a
trial or about a new indication. We know that 62% of pharma convention
attendees and 73% of device convention attendees learned something new.
Depending on the convention and the therapeutic area, the new learning has
been reported as high as 90%. This means that the staff must determine
what is on an attendee’s agenda – why they stopped and what was their
objective in visiting the exhibit.
your staff to communicate your differentiators in response to attendee
qualification. Attendees remember what is different and that becomes
their basis for decision-making.
the precon make sure everyone is up-to-date on your competitive advantages
– these form the basis of communicating with attendees.
your staff to determine the depth of the attendee’s understanding about
your organization, products and services, and then relate to them
something they don’t know. Sometimes this may be something they learned
or were exposed to in the past, but have forgotten.
for what’s NEW – that is why they are attending.
Sponsorships that are interactive are memorable
We live in a world of
messaging that is chaotic and at times cluttered. The average adults
receive between 1500-2000 messages a day. Most of these messages are
missed because adults tend to tune-out what is not of interest or
immediately applicable. This is true of convention sponsorships. Banners
& posters many times get overlooked. They blend into the background. When
asked about sponsorships, 41% of pharma attendees noticed a sponsorship
but only 15% indicated it influenced their decision to visit the sponsor’s
exhibit. But, those sponsorships where there is attendee interaction
generate brand awareness and memorability. Cyber Cafes are interactive
and highly memorable. The one exception seems to be bus wraps that are
static, but memorable due to repetition of viewing and the fact they are
moving vs. a static banner.
Cafes work where the brand is at eye level, on a screen saver, on the
screenie and on a note pad, as well as part of the overhead location
Here Maps, although static required attendee interaction to use. Branding
should be at eye-level since the attendees are focused on the map.
Overhead branding is not in the attendee’s line of sight and is often
attendees in all the convention activities see conference bags. Studies
have shown where there is sponsor’s logo on one side and the convention
organizer’s logo on the other side, 47% of the time your brand will be
facing out making it a walking billboard.
are trying to drive traffic to your exhibit, find another vehicle.
Sponsorships build awareness, but don’t necessarily prompt visitors to
stop at an exhibit.
types of sponsorships are most recalled ?
Conference bag ins
Times they are a
changing. With the new PhRMA Guidelines on promotional products, we will
see a completely different environment. Fewer and fewer domestically
based attendees are visiting exhibits solely to receive the promotion.
They stop due to product interest, ask and get answers to specific product
questions, see demonstrations, learn about what’s new. With the
guidelines requiring promotions to be “medically relevant” we will see a
shift in the exhibit’s emphasis – maybe more scientific and less
ready for 2014 – have medically relevant “thank you’s” for stopping to
participate in your exhibit
it, don’t let it be taken. It has little to no value when taken
under control. If out for the taking, it has little value
Something useful and functional makes it a desired promotion
promotions that have a high-perceived value – they will keep it and use
your selection based on a connection to your company or brand and
“post show deferred thank you”. Select those attendees where you want
enhanced memorability and send them a “medically relevant” promotion after
Events give you strategic reach beyond your exhibit
47% of exhibitors (GPJCo/MPI)
participate or hold events that are in support of their exhibiting
strategy. Why? They are a controlled environment where the content, the
attendees and the brand messaging is controlled by the sponsor. They can
be a hospitality or an educational event. They increase the depth of
person-to-person relationships that accelerates the sales cycle by
providing more points of contact between you and those that control your
top line – Sales.
event in conjunction with your convention exhibit
- Extend your stay
for one day to include a users meeting, focus group, private demo or field
on a narrow set of objectives for your event
both customers and prospects
your staff for the event – different skill sets are needed for events
- Come prepared to
(1) be interested in other people and (2) have something interesting to
- Focus on the
attendees and their personal interests
- Be prepared to
talk about vacations, books read, movies seen, articles read
- Stay away from
politics, religion or sex
- Take notes – have
a 3x5 card available to jot down notes of what was learned in each
dialogue after disengaging, so that at then end of the event, you can
summarize what the potential return on the investment on the event was by
summarizing what was learned.
both current and potential customers – events are a great place for
peer-to-peer communications where your customers will sell your
Trade shows and
conventions work when you plan completely. That means asking
yourself four key questions: (1) why are you exhibiting, (2) who is your
target audience, (3) what do you want to communicate to those qualified
attendees and (4) what is your measure of success? They work when you
execute aggressively and enthusiastically. That means working the
convention every moment it is open even if the traffic is slow. You never
know where the next opportunity will occur. And, you have to stay up,
fresh and alert since every attendee thinks they are the first visitor you
have talked to all day long. They work when you follow-up thoroughly.
Every qualified opportunity you uncover at a trade show or convention
deserves to be followed, but you need to assure that there is enough
information captured from the interchange for whomever is following up on
the contact so they can pick up the conversation from where the booth rep
left it. Trade shows and conventions are very efficient, effective ways
of interacting with both current and potential customers when following
some of these best practices.
© 2013 by Marc