how to maximize results at your next healthcare trade show

This article originally appeared on Forbes

By: Jill Collins, CEO

The healthcare industry made a strong return to trade shows in 2022, and many companies are looking to make an even bigger splash this year. After all, according to recent survey results, 82% of marketing decision-makers plan to maintain or increase event spending in 2023.

As the CEO of a healthcare and biotech branding agency, I understand that trade shows come at a significant financial and human resources cost. They also offer an unparalleled opportunity for companies to physically get in front of their target stakeholders. Trade shows will likely continue to be a staple of the healthcare industry, and organizations must ensure their budgets and resources are being spent on the right things to make the best return on their investment (ROI).

To optimize your trade show results this year, here are some key tips to consider:

Embrace virtual engagement.

The pandemic has opened a new world of opportunities, such as hybrid trade shows with streaming keynote speakers or virtual booths. Although many large in-person events are back, there is value in embracing digital formats and the flexibility offered. In fact, over 90% of marketers are either currently using or planning to use pre-produced or livestreamed videos as part of digital consumer engagement tactics. This can be a great way for healthcare companies to connect with their customers and create lasting relationships.

The metaverse is also becoming a commercial hub that I believe presents a great opportunity for healthcare organizations to tap into a global market. With 79% of active metaverse users having made a purchase in this space, we can already see the potential to drive revenue. Three-dimensional interaction with anyone in the world at any time provides healthcare companies an opportunity to reach more people and create more meaningful connections. Although we are yet to see widespread adoption of this technology, I am excited by the possibilities for our industry.

Engage with your audience before the event.

When participating in a healthcare trade show, it’s essential that your presence is promoted far ahead of the exhibit dates. Over 80% of marketers surveyed responded that increased brand awareness and booth traffic were achieved from pre-show marketing. Most organizers will offer a registration list for purchase, which contains invaluable data for pre-show marketing and advanced targeting. Delivering tailored messaging to a primed and engaged audience to encourage them to visit your booth or attend sponsored activities are a great way to increase overall engagement.

A 2018 Deloitte study found that, on average, people across all age groups check their phones 52 times a day in the United States. Leaning into this and maximizing reach on digital channels such as social media, made more effective with geotargeting for a broader base, will help ensure your targets are aware of your presence in advance of heading to the show. More personalized tactics such as direct mail or email invitations through your internal contact list can be used to invite targets to prearranged meetings or organized events.

Capture the attention of clinicians and scientists.

Focus on the science behind your product. When done correctly, this can set a brand apart from its competition regardless of booth size. Take the example of Augmedics, a company trying to increase awareness of its augmented reality surgical equipment. They leveraged experiential marketing to garner interest at in-person events instead of relying solely on promotional messaging or flashy imagery. This included live product demos and hands-on time in their booth to appeal to clinical audiences. Showcasing their offerings in a tangible and engaging way also served as a pathway to demonstrate industry thought leadership. Highlighting key features of your product or service by letting attendees experience it firsthand will draw attention to your booth and ensure that clinicians and scientists are taking note.

Stay top of mind post-trade show.

Following up on leads generated during the event is critical. Reinforcing your brand’s messaging long after the attendees leave the show hall is what can eventually convert these leads into customers. Ensuring that representatives individually thank each visitor for stopping by adds a personal touch that can help you stand out from other companies. Adding qualified leads to your contact database and enrolling them in your passive email newsletters or drip campaigns will continue to keep your company on their radar. With many potential customers concentrated in one city, geographic retargeting, also known as geofencing, is one such strategy that can pay dividends long after the trade show has concluded. Geofencing techniques, such as sending curated ads to trade show attendees after they have left the venue, can be a great way to stay top of mind via additional digital channels.

It’s important to assess the performance of your trade show and measure the ROI from each event. Make sure you’re evaluating critical metrics such as lead generation, sales conversions and customer feedback after each show. This will help you determine what works and what doesn’t, allowing you to refine your trade show strategy for the next event.

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