Coronavirus killed trade shows. Do this instead.

Medtech trade shows have a terrible ROI

Let’s address the elephant in the room: Trade show ROI is abysmal and getting worse. It’s so bad that many medical device marketing agencies have ceased tracking it. With COVID-19 cancelling trade shows for the foreseeable future, it’s an ideal time to reevaluate not only their effectiveness, but also whether there are more effective ways to market to customers.

Despite what event organizers have been reporting, trade show attendance has been steadily declining for years. This is particularly disturbing when you consider that Chinese attendance at U.S. trade shows has increased significantly over that time. Ten years ago, it was minimal. Today, Chinese presence accounts for about 40 percent of the attendance at medtech trade shows. However, despite this growth, overall attendance is still tanking.

Booth experiences are underwhelming

Those who do attend trade shows spend less and less time frequenting vendor booths. It’s easy to see why. The booths lack value. Most are nothing more than product showcases with salespeople outnumbering attendees by an absurdly wide margin. There’s no special experience, and branding opportunities are wasted.When attendees choose between an educational presentation from a peer or a product engagement from an exhibitor, they choose the former. The question needs to be asked: “Is there anything unique to be gained by experiencing the booth?” Judging by the paucity of attendees frequenting booths, clearly, the answer is no.

Exhibitors are missing the mark

Companies know that their trade show ROI is indefensible, yet they continue to invest heavily in them. One company flew 600 salespeople to their major annual trade show. The spend was astronomical. The booth was jammed with employees. Why did they do it?

Ostensibly, their trade show strategy was to market and sell to customers. But in reality, it was to market and sell to employees.

Yes, a big annual trade show makes a big company brand statement. Yes, it’s a pep rally facilitated by senior leadership. But isn’t the national sales meeting the proper event for engaging sales and marketing employees?

A silver lining

Trade shows are expensive for both attendees and exhibitors, and for both, the ROI is bad and getting worse. As the number of attendees shrinks, the reach gets poorer and poorer. And those who do attend are spending less and less time engaging with exhibitors.

It’s a classic example of spend more, get less. It’s like advertising on TV, where companies are paying more and more to reach fewer and fewer people.

COVID-19 has a silver lining. With everyone hitting pause on trade shows, now is the time to reallocate those dollars to digital. Give your customers digital experiences that provide everything they’d receive at a trade show, and much, much more. In fact, give them less of a reason to visit your booth, because you’ll be giving them a superior experience online.

Start by refocusing on the customer

The medtech product sales process is made up of many smaller individual sales, each corresponding to to a distinct stage of the customer buying journey. Perform the necessary market research, so you know each stage and know your customer’s needs at each stage. And know how your product uniquely solves those needs in a way your competition can’t match.

Once the buying journey is mapped, you can create digital experiences that let you win at every stage. That will propel your prospect to the next stage of the buying process, where you can simply wash, rinse, and repeat.

Give your CEO an ROI that matters
As you nurture leads and propel prospects through the buying process, score each step and quantify marketing’s contribution to a favorable outcome (e.g., a sale). You’ll transform your marketing by turning it outward and focusing on the customer. You’ll expand its reach and touch more prospects than ever before. And you’ll make it measurable, allowing you to justify a greater marketing spend, because you’re demonstrating your value.

It’s unfortunate that COVID-19 is here, but it could be the inflection point we need to titrate down our trade show investments and commit to creating amazing experiences online, where your reach is greater, and your ROI can be unlimited.

You don’t have to go it alone and you don’t have to wait long to get results. VIVO is a full service medtech marketing agency that knows how to shift to digital experiences. Our strategists can map out a step by step process that captures your customer’s behaviors and matches them with content that engages and persuades.

The time is NOW – make the call for a free consult!

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