Brand Building

Measure What Matters: Taking Conference Exhibits to the Next Level

“Do I have a deal for you! You will need to invest a significant amount of money, as well as major time and effort from your marketing and sales organizations, and your MLR team. However, the results are going to be great! In fact, the results are going to be so great that we’re not going to make any measurements because that will take too much extra time and money.”

Most marketers wouldn’t go near a deal like the one above. However, many pharma marketers do exactly this when it comes to their conference exhibit efforts. They develop and deploy expansive convention booths at considerable expense and effort, then pull sales representatives from the field to work the booth. At the end of the meeting though, the only success measurement is an anecdotal evaluation of whether the booth was well attended or rudimentary measures of how many people were scanned.

I believe that the money, time, effort, and potential opportunity costs involved in conference exhibits require that brands set clear objectives for what they intend to accomplish with an exhibit and then closely measure their ability to meet those objectives.

Begin With the End in Mind
It might seem obvious, but the first step for creating a successful convention booth is to set specific objectives. These objectives are important both because they should drive the exhibit experience and because they will drive your measurement plan. The following are some questions that can provide some guidance in setting exhibit objectives:

  • Have you engaged your target physicians?
  • What’s the most important thing you need to accomplish?
    • Drive awareness of a new therapeutic option?
    • Education about a disease state?
    • Delivery of a specific message? (I suggest that this goal be on every exhibitor’s list).
  • How do you want to answer the question from your managers on whether the exhibit effort was a success?


Measure What Matters
Once you’ve set specific objectives, you need to commit to measuring your success against the objectives and optimizing your efforts to improve performance. Fortunately, digital technology now offers the ability to efficiently deliver answers to questions like those listed above. In addition, this information can be delivered in a more targeted way (eg, down to the level of the individual HCP). As an example, information delivered by Cadient analytics for conference exhibits includes the following:

  • The percentage of booth traffic that was on the brand’s target call list
  • Overall engagement level with target HCPs
  • Specific experiences HCPs engaged with while in the exhibit booth
  • Exactly what parts of the brand message HCPs saw in a booth experience (think CVA detail experience with a rep)
  • What messages or information did HCPs take away (what they learned) as a result of a specific experience

There are at least two major advantages to having this type of information. First, these types of data will allow you to answer questions about the success of the effort in a compelling, specific, and data-based manner. This should be our goal for all our marketing efforts.

The second advantage of having these data is the opportunity to customize interactions with HCPs based on what you know about their experience with your exhibit. Our analytics can provide data down to the individual level. Individualized data can be leveraged to customize attendee experiences both during and after the conference, including in the following ways:

  • More in-depth engagements for identified high-value attendees
  • Real-time exhibit experiences adjusted based on what an attendee has seen or quiz/survey results
  • CRM follow-up based on what an attendee has seen or quiz/survey results


Delivering the Real Deal
In conclusion, making analytics a key part of your conference exhibit planning will result in a data-based measure of your success, provide insight on optimizing your exhibit presence, and allow a deeper level of engagement with your customers. Yes, this approach takes extra effort and expense, but the payoff is significant. That’s a great deal for everyone involved!



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Bob Holloway
As Sr. Vice President of Marketing Strategy, Bob Holloway oversees the continual evolution of precision-driven strategies, programs, and partnerships at Cadient. With nearly 20 years of marketing and advertising experience in healthcare businesses, he has worked on a wide range of Rx and OTC drugs. Mr. Holloway has helped lead convention strategy development and implementation for brands in a number of therapeutic areas, including CV, respiratory, rare diseases CNS, women’s health, and GI.

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