Tools of the Trade Show
The words trade show and/or conference can invoke a lot of emotions. For some they are demanding, for others they are energizing, but the best is when they are a combination of both!
I recently returned from the 2017 ASCRS-ASOA where I attended on behalf of Pascale for clients such as: Diopsys, eSight, Lumenis, Paragon BioTeck, Ocular Therapeutix and TearLab. Prior to arriving, I was a bit apprehensive about what to expect. Throughout my career I’ve attended many industry conferences, but this was my first in ophthalmology and I found myself sweating the unexpected. I soon realized this was futile and decided to use my experience with other industry shows as a foundation for success.
The following tactics and how I made them my own at ASCRS will enhance any experience, whether you’re a trade show novice or a seasoned veteran.
PLAN: Preparation is the groundwork for any meeting and the most important step of all. In the past, I typically managed all marketing/PR activities for one client at a conference, but for ASCRS I had six and that meant coordinating almost 30 meetings. I knew planning was mandatory so I developed a detailed blueprint to ensure success before, during and after the meeting.
ADAPT: At Pascale, we pride ourselves on our adaptability. At trade shows one certainty is that there is a constant state of flux. Meetings get cancelled, locations get shifted and events and appointments typically start a bit later than scheduled. Being adept and nimble is critical, so I created backup plans to ensure fluidity, which made going with the flow much easier.
OBSERVE: Being familiar with your environment is a key step in being efficient and effective onsite. I did an initial walkthrough in advance of the show floor opening to familiarize myself with relevant locations and gauge travel time. On a more philosophical level, I made sure I was listening carefully to those around me and several of my casual conversations sparked new ideas!
ENGAGE: It sounds like a cliché, but there really is no substitute for an in-person meeting. I found meeting with clients and editors at publications like Advanced Ocular Care, Millennial Eye Ophthalmology Times and Optometric Management to be invaluable and served to strengthen those connections. I also introduced myself to those I may have only emailed in the past and those face-to-face encounters definitely took relationships to a new level.
INFORM: The end of a conference means effectively summarizing the experience in a way that shows value. If you stay on top of that while you’re onsite, it makes things much easier when you return. I created a template that outlined activities and I updated it while I was at the conference. This meant I didn’t miss any details and it made my reporting process simpler and more concise.
Every industry is unique and so is every conference or meeting, but going back to the basics will help you stay focused and have fun. ASCRS was a phenomenal experience and I can’t wait for the next show!