Competition in the healthcare conference environment is increasingly fierce; our research shows that while healthcare professionals favour events for improving their medical education, they rank an inability to visit all the exhibit stands they would like as one of their top three onsite challenges.
We questioned over 200 global healthcare professionals for The Science of Healthcare Congresses white paper and our study found that 91% of physicians consider the exhibit hall an important part of their congress experience, with 83% spending up to 10 minutes on a single stand.
With up to 200 companies exhibiting at a typical healthcare conference, capturing and holding the attention of time restricted healthcare professionals is a growing challenge.
Matt Foreman, our Head of Exhibits, shares his tips on how to cut through the noise in the exhibit hall to provide healthcare professionals with real value.
Everyone is a competitor
The exhibition hall is a hugely competitive environment and our research has found that, on average, physicians only spend 11% of their total onsite time there.
Depending on the size of the congress, there can be anywhere from 10 to 200 companies within the exhibit hall. They may not all be direct competitors to your product or service, but they are all vying for the delegate’s attention.
This underlines the importance of providing a meaningful and memorable experience and this can only be achieved through creating an active environment, rather than a passive one.
Start with a story
Healthcare professionals tell us that visiting all the exhibit stands they would like is one of their top three onsite challenges. To capture their attention and keep it, you need to tell them a story.
Decide what you want to say, work out what they want to hear, then create an environment that delivers that information on multiple levels and in their own language. We focus on how the four key elements deliver impact: architecturally, graphically, experientially and personally.
And don’t feel restricted to the exhibit hall. Our research has found that prior product knowledge and brand recognition are the number one factors that will influence a physician to visit a stand. We work on the principle of having a layer of engagement built around a story and that story starts even before the event itself.
Consider the three key elements
Position, presence and people – attract from afar, hook in your audience and have engaging staff on hand. An exhibition stand should never replace a conversation, it should be the conversation starter, so having the right representatives is key to delivering your brand message.
A high proportion of physicians - 48% - are looking to interact directly with healthcare companies and 91% of physicians rank the exhibition hall as the most effective element of a congress for networking, so make sure you have the right people onsite.
Make it memorable
Aim to get your visitors to remember one key aspect of your brand. Using interactive elements and incorporating technology can help imbed a message or position a product in a memorable way. In fact, aesthetic delivery and use of engagement technologies are key to attracting the audience – physicians noted this as the second most important element that would attract them to a stand.
However, don’t make the mistake of building everything around technology, the idea or story must come first. Without strong brand storytelling, you risk visitors remembering the technology involved, without the reason behind it.
Continue the conversation
Only 20% of healthcare professionals always experience company communication on activities at the exhibition pre, onsite and post-event.
There is no reason why the conversation should stop on the stand itself and these findings demonstrate the opportunity healthcare companies have to create a wider communications campaign. An effective post-event strategy continues to build relationships and that can help turn brand awareness into leads.
All statistics are taken from The Science of Healthcare Congresses white paper, available to download from here.