To manage exhibitions is one thing, but to manage healthcare exhibitions has its difficulties. When healthcare professionals meet in their societies, it is most often in connection with an annual meeting or other event. On these occasions, the health industry is often invited as exhibitors and sponsors. This is in order to support their event financially, but very importantly to be able to share knowledge, develop new products and ultimately buy new equipment that can be used in the health professional’s daily life. But how do you ensure the best exhibition engagement?
The exhibitors find it difficult to figure out which exhibitions to attend, an exhibition booth is a huge expense, which is often not generating money, and it is most difficult to measure the effect of the booth. Furthermore, it is very important that the exhibitor has brought along the correct material to the exhibition. It’s all about knowing the participants – their customers.
It is a significant problem that conference participants have to move from one session to another. So much can happen in-between. Many are talking about virtual event attendance, but it is a myth that it will take over, as it is clear that human contact is most important.
For the exhibiting companies, it is very important to recognize that the exhibition hall is the only place to meet the conference participants, but more significant, the competitors of the exhibiting companies. Also, it is very important to know that the exhibition booth is not an event in itself. It is a valued part of the event.
More and more exhibitors use digital solutions at their booths. The exhibitors are extremely interested in exploring new opportunities to exhibit. If the customer contact can be created in other ways, the exhibitors are more than interested.
The sales flow?
First moment of truth: The first glance is the most important for the participants.
- Is the product recognizable?
- Does it capture their attention?
- If 1 and 2 is fulfilled, the potential customer will go and search for the products and reviews online
Second moment of truth: This is where they move toward ownership of the product, a real interest. This is where the real demand for the product is, and where the sale is.
The exhibitors are ALWAYS BEHIND THE BUYER. It is the participant, the customer group, the buyer, who is ahead in knowledge, wishes and needs. When the exhibitor has recognized this, he can create the good, real contact with the possibility of development and sale of the product.
The buying process has changed significantly.
Word of mouth is strongest.
Therefore, there are 10 significant steps for a successful exhibition.
- Identify your communication challenges: Where is your brand in the overall landscape – who are your competitors, and what makes your brand?
- Undertake an educational needs assessment: Who is your audience, how well do they understand your therapy area and brand, and where are the leaning gaps?
- Understand your audience’s personas: How and when do they access scientific information in their clinical practice? Are they tech-savvy or do they prefer to use more traditional tools?
- Analyse the communicational vehicles: There is little point in building a fantastic iPad app, if your audience is already using a professional website to learn about the latest developments in their field.
- Identify appropriate events and sponsorship opportunities: Challenge the status quo and only just attend the same congresses, if you see value in it. Are there other congresses, where your attendance will add further value?
- Prepare a detailed plan and seek input from all stakeholders: Ensure that the congresses, commercial, medical, and purchasing teams are offered the opportunity to give input to your plan by sharing their visions and goals. Once you have shown them that you listen to recommendations and needs, they will feel ownership of the product. When they know the industry is listening, the sales flow will succeed.
- Agree what success will look like: The exhibiting company must agree on critical success factors (CFS) and set Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that will provide tangible results.
- Measure everything you can: Ensure that your digital and other multichannel activities gather metrics about how your audience understands your messages.
- Provide feedback: Analyse these metrics and share key learnings to empower your global and local teams to follow up, and seek their feedback as to how the market responds.
- Brief your agency: Share all of this information with your booth agency to maximise the design, activities and impact of future events.
How to boost/empower/fuel your booth personnel?
Train your staff and establish booth captains, to whom these 10 points are core values.