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The Show Must Go On: Why Expos and Trade Shows Still Matter

As consolidation in the health care industry continues to define the future of its landscape, vendors of all stripes continue to seek access to the largest client, patient and supplier pools available. Whether communicating critical messaging, winning new converts, or simply keeping abreast of the goings-on of competitors, there’s few opportunities to accomplish as much as expediently as at a trade show.

Medical Dealer

The following are select quotes pulled from the original piece.

Key points from my extensive conversation with Matt Skoufalos:

As consolidation in the health care industry continues to define the future of its landscape, vendors of all stripes continue to seek access to the largest client, patient and supplier pools available. Whether communicating critical messaging, winning new converts, or simply keeping abreast of the goings-on of competitors, there’s few opportunities to accomplish as much as expediently as at a trade show.

When the biggest players spend on marketing, they spend big, which in the trade show setting means creating elaborate experiences designed to capture the interest of a handful of big decision-makers, said Brent Turner, senior vice president of solutions at Cramer of Boston, Massachusetts.

Turner’s clients look specifically to industry exhibitions as an opportunity to elevate the profiles of their businesses and generate high-value conversations with key prospects. The industry terminology for this strategy is called account-based marketing.

Instead of trying to fish for the market, they’re going to prioritize 50, 100, 1,000 of the top prospects,” Turner said. You go deeper. You try to talk to more people in the organization than you would elicit as your sole buyer or executive sponsor. Yes, the booth draws still matter; the interactive things you can do at your booth still matter, but the booth is becoming your outpost or your rallying point to get five or six people together and do something with them.”

In such an atmosphere, the booth must create an experience tailored for a broad audience; yet remain capable of sustaining high-level conversations with a handful of key clients.

Turner identified three popular trends in convention experiences: the use of novelty technologies; facilitating playtime,” or fun-first experiences; and creating irreverent or memorable moments. Few novelties are as popular as virtual or augmented reality technologies, and one customizable option many companies are using is Google cardboard. It syncs up a mobile application with a customizable cardboard viewer into which users place their phones. The effect is one of an immersive, virtual experience – say, transporting a client to a hospital room full of the company’s branded equipment, for example.

In VR, you can be transplanted somewhere else,” Turner said. A piece of cardboard becomes a piece of collateral that you can take into the world with you.”

Alternatively, augmented reality technologies transform the visible world with a digital overlay. Phones and headsets allow viewers to take in the surrounding environment with transparent screens that provide a synthetic physical experience. Some displays involve huddling up groups under domes that project a larger field of display, with a sales representative to help guide the engagement.

You put these two things together, and you’re talking about group theater,” Turner said. How do we put two or three people together at once to experience things? Augmented reality is like a group feeder where you’re in there with the people.”

Turner also described the playtime” convention trend, which involves creating a space for guests to unwind with an unstructured activity like Legos; its intention is to provide an alternative physical activity amid the hubbub of the floor. Similar to that is the trend of creating irreverent or sharable moments,” like the tiny room concept.

You take that emergency room and scale it down to a ridiculously small proportion. They can still see your products, [but now] you have a person crammed into a tiny room. They have a laugh; people take a photo and share with their colleagues. More people are seeing this fun, irreverent, skewed reality,” he said.

The tiny room trend is a carryover from marketing that’s worked in the consumer direct space, and Turner said it’s an offbeat idea that some brands might view as risky. So why would a client in the overly serious health care industry build a tiny room booth? Turner says it comes down to client-aggregation strategy: building a network of influence within the organizations to which a brand is marketing. And not everybody likes the same thing.

You’re giving people a little more of a cultural, entertaining moment, but it happens to be in your branded house: the idea of a pop-up, micro-experience on its own that becomes a destination beyond the destination,” Turner said.




by Medical Dealer

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re:

Brent Turner