How do you create a compelling, engaging—and even fun—trade show exhibit about a sensitive medical issue, all within 400 square feet?

That was the challenge we faced with a pharmaceutical company at a recent industry trade show. By optimizing booth design and incorporating attendee engagement, we were able to develop an eye-catching, interactive, educational, and ultimately successful exhibit.

Our client earned nearly 200 badge-scans per day at its booth, which resulted in a high number of quality leads. And our work on the project revealed three keys to success for pharma companies at trade shows.

Don’t Fear Rules and Regulations

Trade shows offer pharma marketers a valuable chance to showcase their companies’ products and build awareness among key prospects. But they also require hefty investments, and competition for attention on the show floor is fierce.

While many pharma companies deploy visually impressive exhibits, too many leave a significant amount of creativity on the table and struggle to stand out to the key healthcare professionals at these shows.

Pharma companies, of course, can’t give away the promotional items and gifts that companies in other industries use to drive booth visits. But those rules and regulations don’t need to completely prevent marketers from incorporating engaging features into their exhibits. For example, companies can deploy tactics such as photo engagements and games that allow attendees to test their knowledge of a relevant topic.

To make the most of their trade show investments, pharma marketers need to push the boundaries that traditionally hem them in and work hard to incorporate features that up the fun quotient in their booths. This will enable them to generate meaningful buzz on the trade show floor and maximize booth visits. Our client understood this, and, therefore, we developed a booth that struck the perfect balance between high-level education and attendee participation.

Incorporate the Right Engagement Opportunities

The centerpiece of our client’s booth was a visually compelling backdrop for photos of attendees. For the photos, attendees held custom-designed props that featured pithy messages about the medical condition that was the focus of the exhibit. Attendees were then given a physical copy of their photos that included hashtags and the URL of a website with educational information about the condition. Over the two-day event, more than 300 photos were taken.

The success of this exhibit proved that even in highly professional environments like healthcare shows, interactive engagements can entice audience members and increase participation while also reinforcing the core messages and themes of the exhibit.

It’s crucial for pharma marketers to determine the best engagement tactics for their booths based on a detailed understanding of audiences and goals. In some cases, bleeding-edge technologies such as virtual and augmented reality may work well. But our client’s exhibit proved that more traditional tactics can also be proven winners for pharma companies at trade shows.

Prioritize Space Management

Space is always at a premium at trade shows. But even if a company has a small footprint, the design of its booth must still communicate its high-level messages to a broad audience while also allowing for more in-depth education and one-on-one meetings.

We designed our client’s booth to meet the multifaceted needs of the initiative. The front of the exhibit featured compelling visuals. We used dynamic, scrolling graphics on an LED wall to display key messages and draw attendees to the booth.

The booth also included two work stations where attendees could explore the website and watch a video that offered more detailed information about the medical issue. Further, a private medical-affairs section of the booth with a café table and stools offered a space for private conversations between company reps and attending physicians.

It’s also important to capitalize on a booth’s vertical space. A company may have limited real estate on the show floor, but a noticeable vertical presence can help its exhibit stand out. For this client, we created a large banner above the exhibit that prominently displayed the website URL and company logo.

How to Rethink Your Approach to Trade Shows

To successfully improve their trade show strategies, pharma marketers need to start with a clear sense of show-specific goals and messages. From there, they need to identify the right partners to execute projects. The ideal partners are companies with deep experience in the exhibiting space and the pharma industry that can bring a strategic and goal-oriented vision to the table.

And marketers should be willing to push the envelope and go beyond what they think is possible. By prioritizing engagement using tried-and-true tactics and also strategically designing the booth to optimize the attendee experience, pharma marketers can ensure their companies and products remain in attendees’ minds long after they leave the trade show floor.


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