Recently, a few members of our team made the west coast trek to Los Angeles to participate in the annual spring ASCRS conference. The conference is an opportunity for ophthalmic professionals to learn, grow, and network with peers.
As attendees, we had a lot to take in, from the exhibit floor to the classroom. We had the opportunity to hear excellent doctors present on their life’s work and to see live surgery being performed with the industry’s newest technology.
Exciting new refractive technologies, such as SMILE from ZEISS, were available for education and hands-on learning. Healthcare regulation and reform were hot topics of conversation, as we all wait anxiously to see what emerges regarding MIPS and changes to the ACA. And, as always, we were all learning and hunting for new innovations in patient care, surgical offerings, and best practices in ophthalmology.
The biggest challenge for exhibitors at ASCRS is getting your product or offering to “cut through the noise.”
With hundreds of industry partners present on the convention floor, the biggest challenge for exhibitors at ASCRS is getting your product or offering to “cut through the noise” and reach new potential consumers.
So how do you set yourself up for success? How do you ensure that your product and your booth will stand out above all others?
Do it well
If you’re going to spend the money to be present at the conference, you need to do it well. How do we define “doing it well?” There are four key components:
- Focus on cohesive branding and materials.
- Offer pointed messaging that clearly outlines your value proposition and ideal customer.
- Have something “actionable” at your booth; something for visitors and customers to do immediately to improve their skill, practice, or thinking.
- Learn from your successes and mistakes. Audit every conference you attend and determine what worked and didn’t work from a booth presence perspective. Ask your loyal customers what they thought of your booth. Ask what others thought the best parts of ASCRS were this year. Learn, learn, learn.
If you “do it well,” you will shine at meetings like this.
Create space for conversation outside the exhibit hall
Some of the best conversations we saw happen at ASCRS happened outside of the exhibit hall and over a shared meal. Relationships and trust are built when real conversation is allowed to happen, and the best place to build relationships and trust is over dinner.
Relationships and trust are built when real conversation is allowed to happen, and the best place to build relationships and trust is over dinner.
Some options for holding these coinciding events include round tables or additional presentations. As you plan your event, create goals of the amount or type of feedback you hope to gain. In this way, you can measure the success of your event. Answers to these questions should affect your materials, your way-finding, your room set-up and your presentations.
Another exciting option at national events like ASCRS is to plan “experiential meetings” where you combine some form of learning or content sharing with a locally sourced experience. The goal of these events is that attendees would become actively immersed in your brand and product. For example, work with a local tour group to book a double-decker tour bus of the city. Before or after the event, offer some exciting new thoughts about your product or company. Because ASCRS has many vendors and meetings competing for the attention of doctors and staff, give people an added incentive to attend your experience.
Your booth layout matters
Depending on your product and presentation, the floor plan of your booth matters. In smaller booths, like a 10×10, the options are limited. However, there are still decisions to be made. Some questions you should ask yourself as you design the layout include:
- What’s the one message you want people to see and understand?
- Do you want a table separating you from your potential customers?
- Do you need a private space to meet with interested buyers?
- How does your floor plan affect your ability to draw in passersby?
- What will people be able to stop and do at your booth?
- How can your booth be unique and different from any other?
Answering these questions clearly before you begin working on your booth design will help ensure you create the ideal booth for your meeting goals, at ASCRS and beyond.