Pharma Marketing USA Virtual

Sep 29, 2020 - Sep 30, 2020, Digital Conference, Networking & Exhibition

The Marketing USA Conference Virtual is the business-critical event that will enable you to harness technology and data to deliver unprecedented digital marketing efficiency and a best-in-class customer experience.

Virtual Trade Show Best Practices: Intelligent Medical Objects and HiMSS

A new way of thinking and acting is needed for virtual marketing in the post COVID-19 world, says Paul Schrimpf of management consultant Prophet



 
Many B2B companies are scrambling to fill the void of canceled trade shows due to COVID-19. Trade shows tend to garner more than their fair share of a one’s sales and marketing budget and these trade shows often play an even larger role at smaller organizations, where building awareness with a relevant audience is paramount to growth and success.
 
What should they do now? How do you recreate that experience? What have people tried? What’s working?
 
There are many ways to effectively redirect trade show funds to drive demand.
 
Let’s break down some of the best practices in virtual trade shows.
 
A Look at Intelligent Medical Objects (IMO)
Intelligent Medical Objects is one of these companies dramatically impacted, after the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HiMSS) conference was canceled. As Kristi Annes, VP of Marketing, puts it, “Tradeshows provide nonquantifiable benefits, so the loss of a key trade event can be devastating to lead generation and pipeline strategy.”
 
HiMSS canceled its conference just three days before it was to open. For IMO’s marketing team it came as a relief as its leadership had decided to withdraw their exhibit hours earlier. 
 
That same day, they went to work repurposing their efforts. “We recognized that our clients couldn’t afford to think about what might have been. While the rest of the healthcare technology world was scrambling to try to recreate HiMSS, we stopped chasing our tails trying to look back,” says Michael Klozotsky, Chief Marketing Officer. 
 
 
From there, Annes and her team decided to take a different approach. “At a show like HiMSS, where there are 1,300-plus exhibiting vendors, we knew the 45,000 attendees were likely to get bombarded with new requests from vendors to join this webinar or attend that virtual hangout. We made a conscious effort to not contribute to the onslaught of outreach that would inevitably happen.”
 
In less than three days, IMO reimagined their entire tradeshow approach. IMO’s repurposing of its tradeshow efforts is emerging as a best practice, and here are a few of the reasons why:   
 
Understanding customer needs creates shared value
“It was important to give our customers time to regroup, cancel travel plans, and adjust their schedules,” says Annes. The cancelation of HiMSS was, by definition, a shared experience. “Our ‘No Travel Required’ campaign leaned into that, highlighting the hassles and annoyances of business travel, particularly when everyone at that time was on the phone with a travel company, airline, and/or hotel.” 
 
This is important to underscore. Many B2B companies are asking themselves how they will be able to talk about their products. This is a miss. Nobody wants to attend a webinar just for a product demo—you must start with what is important to growing your customer’s business, and then demonstrate how your product helps drive those goals. As Klozotsky puts it, “If you’re asking a customer to make a six- or seven-figure investment, you better believe they have expectations that you will understand their business goals and priorities.” 
 
Agility equals survival (and sanity!)
The tipping point for the U.S., as it relates to COVID-19, happened over two weeks ago, and we’re still hearing of large bureaucratic organizations holding meetings to align on objectives and seek approval on how to respond. IMO created a new communications plan in less than a day, and an entirely new campaign in just three. As Annes puts it, “We are not beholden to layers upon layers of red tape or corporate bureaucracy. If it takes an eternity to get approvals on your campaigns, you lose the ability to move quickly.” 
 
Measures to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 are evolving daily, but companies continue to respond slowly, exposing their lack of agility. Just because your enterprise is big doesn’t mean you can’t be agile. Medtronic and Phillips are two examples of large global B2B enterprises that are out-maneuvering companies a fraction of their size during this crisis. Annes also mentioned that it’s important to, “leave room in your marketing plans (and your budgets) for unforeseen events. And fortunately, our executive leadership team is beyond supportive of taking creative approaches to engage our customers.”
 
Today is an opportunity for digital engagement 
Don’t just stuff a tradeshow booth online. Your consumers of content will no longer be attendees at a convention center. They will be experiencing this content during their day, in-motion, or when killing time. Your content needs to be flexible and adapt to the new ways people will consume it, says Annes, “B2B buyers are people. They all consume content differently and giving them different ways to consume your content is a good thing.”
 
IMO’s “No Travel Required” campaign landing page has four different calls to action. It then expanded to a fifth call to action when they announced the release of 136 new COVID-19 diagnosis terms and the launch of two new value sets within its IMO Precision COVID-19 Sets solution. “Content must be repurposed into different formats—for example, turning a whitepaper into a webinar presentation, infographic and a blog post—gives your customers options for consuming it in a way they most prefer.”  
 
To that last point, don’t forget why these trade shows are canceled. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. If you run your prior-planned content without acknowledging that, you’ll come off as tone deaf. Not only did IMO address COVID-19 through content, it also showed empathy in its approach.
 
Its recently released COVID-19 sets are free of charge. What was empathetic and relevant a few weeks ago has completely changed. Things will continue to change and be unpredictable. Annes's team is anticipating that, “We expected shifts and edits to happen, and it's baked into all our marketing plans. The more we anticipate hiccups, the more we’re prepared to shift gears and adapt to new learnings.”

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Pharma Marketing USA Virtual

Sep 29, 2020 - Sep 30, 2020, Digital Conference, Networking & Exhibition

The Marketing USA Conference Virtual is the business-critical event that will enable you to harness technology and data to deliver unprecedented digital marketing efficiency and a best-in-class customer experience.