APRIL 2024
meetings & organizations newsletter
This Report Just Made It
So Much Easier To Prep
Let's All Win With
a Few Freebies
Help Me Solve
the Poster Mystery
Draw Them Away from the Screen and Into the Hall
Having worked with several different organizations and types of people while putting on a meeting, it is often a point of contention with how the meeting should be marketed, how much should be budgeted for marketing, and who is in control of the marketing decisions.

Marketing tends to be one of those topics that everyone thinks they're really good at; however, I have found that people are usually just really good at throwing out insane ideas and wrenches in plans that actually make sense (excuse my pinch of bitterness in this arena).

Beyond the aspects mentioned above, it is critical to nail down a marketing timeline in order to maximize the dollars that are finally allocated. Trying to implement meeting marketing with a large amount of cooks in the kitchen with a last-minute plan is giving me anxiety as I type about it.

When you scroll down to the "Articles Worth Sharing" segment of this newsletter, you will see an article titled:

As I was reading it, I was stoked to find the following statement/statistics:

"To market to HCPs effectively ahead of a convention, both the organizers and exhibiting firms should communicate in detail with attendees at least five weeks ahead of the event. The proof:

  • 29 percent of HCPs begin planning their convention schedules at least eight weeks out
  • 23 percent start planning five to eight weeks out
  • 24 percent start planning three to four weeks out
  • 23 percent start planning within two weeks of an event"

This is incredibly helpful information!

While the highest percentage is 29% at 8 weeks (minimum) before the event, this statistic shows that SEVENTY PERCENT don't start making their decisions until the event is two months away.

So what can we do with this information? Here are some tips from me to you as someone who has good and bad experiences as the meeting marketer, as well as having understanding of the stresses experienced by the meeting administrators who consistently panic when registration numbers are next to nothing until the final weeks' surge.

FIRST: As I'm typing this in real-time, I had a flashback to an article I have previously created on this exact topic. I just looked it up and it was EXACTLY three years ago that I created a "Marketing Your Meeting - An Implementation Timetable Checklist."

A lot has changed in three years and I can say that the checklist needs to be updated! SO - Good news... you will be equipped with an updated checklist next month. Not only have meetings changed drastically in a short time span, but the statistic above provides essential information that force me to shuffle various suggested marketing tactics around.

SECOND: Just because the majority of decision-making and planning doesn't take place for attendees until the last 2 months before an event, does not equal time to slack off. Instead, this allows us to take a deep breath and reconfigure how we spend the time BEFORE the heavy registration dates hit. For example, details still must be fleshed out much earlier for the other key audience in the equation... exhibitors!

The good news is, you now can do less multi-tasking of creating communications programs for two audiences at once, but give each audience its necessary/required attention for maximum results in both commercial support and physician attendance.

THIRD - Stay off of your marketing coordinator's back. I say this with the "chillest" tone possible. Again, the timing information reported above does not mean that everyone gets to take a vacation and check out until 8 weeks before the meeting. However, it does mean that the team needs to appropriately focus on the metrics that matter at any given time.

If your registration numbers are not close to the final number you're used to seeing from year to year, avoid having a freak-out session; and definitely avoid ripping into your marketing director/team. Instead, determine what has been done on the commercial side and figure if communication needs to be ramped in that arena; and simply determine if you're on your standard registration trend year-to-date. Instead of demanding a magical influx in registration numbers in an instant, simply ask your marketing team what their plans are for the coming weeks so that those final weeks do end up filling out the way they are expected to.
Thoughts? Questions? Email Me!
Sarah Breymeier: beheard@podiatrymeetings.com
If you've read my previous articles, you know that I start a lot of these the same way; by beating a dead horse that is one of a few foundational challenges for every meeting. So I'm going to do it again...

Costs. Costs are rising and nobody seems to be getting anymore money from either end. So why would I ever suggest giving away some commercial real estate away for free at a meeting? Well, because exhibitors are needing more bang for their buck.

Costs are rising for exhibitors in every aspect of meeting participation and aren't seeing a relative increase in ROI. They also don't want to cut meetings out of their marketing budgets completely; so they need to make smart choices when choosing which meetings to plan for.

I am not suggesting that you start giving away high-ticket items like program ads, signage, or any elevated exposure in comparison to other exhibitors; BUT, have you taken time to consider adding value for ALL exhibitors that is low-cost (or no-cost) to the meeting in an effort to (1) make your meeting stand out as a stronger choice to add to the calendar when cuts are being made and (2) send a message that your team genuinely cares about exhibitor success.

Obviously there are not a large amount of items that are cheap to produce, but I think there are some that can be transitioned from a paid-for add-on to a value-add at no cost. Consider these:

  • Exhibitor Bingo (or similar "games"). We see meetings solicit participation for these types of activities for an additional cost to their booths. Unfortunately, if all exhibitors aren't able to afford to participate, then the luster of the game with attendees isn't quite as appealing and the strategy to increase foot traffic ultimately dies. Let's let every exhibitor participate at no charge.
  • Registration Bag Stuffers. The meeting literally has no cost to produce the stuffers that exhibitors voluntarily provide. If there are shipping fees, then the exhibitor would be responsible for shipping the items to the meeting for stuffing. Most of the time a sponsor has to pay to get their item into a registration bag. The sponsorship fee is usually too expensive to make that item anything worth while for hundreds of attendees; so let every exhibitor participate if they wish. They can provide a small item to go into every registration bag. They feel like they are getting more exposure (win) and the attendees get more swag than they would if you are counting on a small list of paying sponsors (win).
  • Pre-Meeting Email Blast Shout-Out. Ok, this one is not super complicated, but it does take some explaining. But let's first acknowledge that it's LOW-COST. You already have an email marketing program (like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp); and these programs don't charge more for sending more messages out (they only charge more if you add more people to your recipient list). The concept here would be a two-step process.

  • When a DPM registers for the meeting, use a part of their registration form to inquire about what products and/or services they might also be interested in learning more about while they are at the meeting. With that, you would have categories (i.e. orthotics, EMR, marketing, laser, etc)

  • A week before the meeting (after you have been able to collect the data from most of the attendees) send an email out to those who selected "orthotics" (for example) and tell them which companies are going to be exhibiting at the show and supply orthotics - along with their booth numbers. You've given your vendors exposure to a qualified lead (win) and you've given the DPMs information they need to maximize their exhibit hall time (win.)
There are so many more ideas that we can come up with that won't break the bank, won't cause a massive amount of lost revenue, but provide significant value to your vendors who are making large investments to participate in your meeting. Exhibitors notice these things and if more meetings provided small bonuses, the appreciation and loyalty would definitely be reciprocated.
Thoughts? Questions? Email Me!
I'm going to be 100% honest... the poster area of an exhibit hall is one that I just don't have much to say about. The only thing I can say I know about the posters is that most exhibitors find no value in being near them.

I'm going to cut myself a little bit of slack for being in the dark about this conference staple, though, after reading this statement from the article I am sharing below:

"With medical conferences having so many moving parts, it’s understandable that something as basic as poster creation might not command much attention from event organizers."

Why is this???? They exist in every exhibit hall (at least as far as I can recall) and they seem to generate a little bit of a buzz, but never a splash.

Obviously the posters are a mystery to me. With that said, are there lost opportunities here? If they are allowed in the exhibit hall, does that mean there are no CME restrictions regarding sponsorships??? Is there a larger opportunity to gain commercial support for posters?

What am I missing?

While I'm looking for answers, my goal is still to assist readers in finding solutions for their meetings. So, check out the article below and I hope we can make POSTERS POP!!

Thoughts? Questions? Email Me!
We can't say it enough... and we all know it... 2020 changed everything. Online learning, while always available, became standard and the benefits have stuck with DPMs. However, we know that when attendees experience a meeting in person, they are engaged in a much richer experience.

As we continue to strive to find the magic formula to make an event a perfect combination of ideal results for both attendes and exhibitors, I found a recent article that helped to pinpoint many of the issues/aspects that go into modern meeting planning consideration.

The portion of the article below that I found most interesting is gaining some stronger insight as to what factors will push an attendee off of their desk chair and away from their homes/offices and into a convention center that could be a drive or a plane ride away.

Thoughts? Questions? Email Me!
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