In a medical equipment trade show, every medical device manufacturer wants your prospects’ attention. How will you stand out?
We discussed six influential concepts in Six Ways to Persuade People and Grow Your Business, a review of Robert Cialdini’s seminal marketing book. Here are some strategies you can use to make your medical equipment trade show work harder for you.
The event. Your medical device company wants to prospect risk managers attending an upcoming industry conference. You decide to host an event and your company’s brand awareness is relatively low. Why should prospects come?
After a day-long conference, why would you go?
- For free food and drink? Maybe.
- For subject matter that sounds vital for your job? Perhaps.
- For networking? That might do it.
Free food and drink. No such thing as a free lunch? Well, no, there isn’t. We can serve you appetizers and drinks for a few hours and charge you nothing monetarily. But what kind of boor comes, swills free beer, and leaves unwilling to entertain a little conversation with one of our sales reps? Reciprocity, in a food-for-conversation trade, works. Cialdini lovingly posts reciprocity as chief among the concepts of persuasion.
Subject matter. Relevant subject, interesting speaker. These fall in the social proof camp: can you see yourself getting something out of the event? If yes, attend. If no, don’t.
Who else is going? Far and away my favorite and, really, the reason I’m writing this article. This is social proof at its best and you can leverage it in so many ways.
First, let the prospect know who else is coming. Using variable printing, list on the invite the names of each of the other invitees from the prospect’s company. Once you get the logic down (email me for a sample), it’s easy for the moderately EXCEL-proficient user to prepare a matrix suitable for the mail-merge process.
Think about it: If, on the Junior VP’s invitation, she sees the CEO, CFO, VP of this and that, and she were invited, might she be intrigued? “Hey, I’m invited to an event with the CEO,” she tells her husband. Perhaps at work she’ll ask around, “Is Jeff going to this thing?” It gets people in the office talking about it, always a good thing.
Second, let the prospect know about six relevant companies that are also invited. That’s relevant because the prospect (a) might want to network – who knows? – maybe a job change is afoot; (b) might have an opportunity to win some new business; or, (c) doesn’t want the competitor having information she doesn’t. (I’m sure there are other reasons.)
For example, let Welch Allyn know Medtronic and GE Healthcare (competitors, potential employers, respected companies) will be there. Let them know representatives from Henry Schein and PSS (distributors) will be at your event. The Welch Allyn team really should make an effort to be there.
Scarcity. If you consult one, your medical device marketing consultant can source fancy stationery and plaster “exclusive event” all over the invitation – but that’s insufficient to communicate scarcity.
You can include a self-addressed stamped envelope and an RSVP (akin to a wedding invitation). You can asking them to call or mail their RSVP along with their dietary restrictions (will we have enough suitable food if they don’t reply?), and we will follow up with an outbound call to each prospect. The room will only hold so many people so “We want to make sure the bar is properly stocked,” etc.
The RSVP serves a secondary purpose. On it, you can give three options:
- Yes, I will attend.
- Yes, I’d like to attend but can’t. Please call me with a synopsis of the program.
- Yes, I’d like to learn more but prefer you join me and my colleagues at [company name, variably printed]. Please call me to arrange an on-campus visit.
You can also leave room for the respondent to add the names of other interested parties in the medical equipment trade show.
Postscript. About your low brand awareness: You can deliberately leave your company name off the outer envelope. Use fancy papers. Affix a live stamp. Could be a wedding invitation for all they know. They’d better open it up. Then, stand back, and let the reciprocity, social proof, and scarcity perform their magic.
Thank you, Mr. Cialdini.
Click Six Ways to read Part I of this article.
Also see: Using PR to reach investors and physicians
Also see: Selling devices into primary care