Setting Up a Booth at Medical Conferences

August 8, 2013
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medical booth

What is the rationale for investing in a booth at a medical conference?

There are quite a few reasons companies mention for placing booths at conference.

medical booth

What is the rationale for investing in a booth at a medical conference?

There are quite a few reasons companies mention for placing booths at conference. Some of the reasons to participate in them:

  • Finding distributors or resellers for your medical device – Locating a medical device distributor at a show and signing a distribution agreement within months of it could affect your bottom line and can be measured. Note, however, that to communicate with a distributor of a specific company in a certain country, you can access exhibition grounds as a visitor and do not need to set up your own booth.
  • Generating leads to sales — If your device is commercially available or is close to launching, you can use the exhibition to get leads to sales. These may be early adopters of technologies or leads referred to you by your international partners. Note that only deals signed within a predefined timeframe of the medical exhibition may count as “exhibition leads.”
  • Generating leads to clinical studies — You might be looking to meet physicians who could be interested in conducting clinical studies using your product (physician-initiated or registration studies). Chances are that physicians will not come to any off grounds meetings or workshop, as doctors tend to be extremely busy during the conference. A small booth where they can see your product is the way to go. Remember to organize a mailing list months before the conference and try to set the meetings in advance. I learned that a breakfast meeting is a wonderful alternative to discuss activities or the design of a study protocol.
  • Getting the attention of partners — Meeting partners is one of the main reasons early-stage medical device companies state for placing a booth alongside a conference. Showing potential partners that you have market presence and that your booth is generating interest from potential clients has real advantages. Additionally, the ability to meet a delegation from this company at your booth has benefits. Remember that spontaneous partner visits are nice. Planned ones with communication materials that target partners, even better.
  • Meeting existing distributors for your device — Your product distributors have a place where they can hold meetings with doctors from their own countries. This has merit and is important provided your participation at the exhibition and your relationship with your medical device distributors contribute to generating additional sales. If not, find another satellite activity in which they would prefer to participate.
  • Conducting market research — Medical conferences are a great place to collect information that will feed into your strategic activities. Sometimes, the most effective way to conduct this market research is by holding your own booth and meeting physicians. This could be a cheaper way to get what you need instead of flying across the country for focus groups and setting up physician interviews where you would need to pay an honorarium for their time.

The problem with these great reasons—no real measurement of outcome

The problem: no objective measure of success can be obtained, and this means placing a dollar value on success rather than counting number of physician leads collected (irrespective of outcomes), number of distributors visiting the booth (irrespective of outcomes), the way the booth looked, and traffic compared with your competition’s (again, irrespective of outcome), and so on.

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The amazing thing is that there are some really good alternatives today to hosting booths. These are not only measurable but also can be used throughout the year as part of the lead nurturing process for the same price as hosting one booth at one meeting.

What do you think? Should ROI be used to measure exhibition success?

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