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4 Things Healthcare Events Can Learn from the Consumer World

In-person interactions are invaluable in the communications world. While our profession relies heavily on email, phone calls, and social media interactions, relationships are forged and deepened by face-to-face exchanges.

Having attended and hosted, on behalf of clients, many events in the business-to-business and business-to-consumer spaces, and across many industries (health technology, publishing, toys, natural foods, personal electronics – you name it), I’ve observed a stark contrast in the manner they’re conducted. The most noticeable differences are intangible. The look, energy, vibe, and general atmosphere are what set them apart. Healthcare events can be likened to business lunches – more casual than a board room meeting, but still buttoned up. Consumer events, in my experience, are more like happy hours – friendly, casual social gatherings.

Keeping in mind that events should feel like unique experiences rather than business obligations, here are four things healthcare organizations can learn from consumer events:

  1. Provide freebies, or “swag” as it’s referred to in the consumer world. Offering useful items event attendees can take home conveys that you appreciate their attention and recognize the effort it took for them to be there. Strategic giveaway items are also an opportunity to promote your company long after the event ends. If you’re a health technology company whose service is accessed using a mobile app, a branded power bank is useful and ties directly to your product.
  2. Offer a value-add. Individuals are more inclined to give you one of their most valuable assets – their time – if your event offers information or an experience they can’t get elsewhere. Will their attendance mean access to an interactive demo from the creator of the technology you’re promoting? Will they be able to tour a mock setup of your new facility and participate in a Q&A session with its designers? To amplify an event’s appeal, you need to offer more than a boxed lunch and flash drive loaded with press materials.
  3. Go the extra mile. While it may seem superficial, everyone likes to feel valued. Is your event in a location that’s difficult to reach? Consider providing car service or transportation reimbursement. Is the gathering in the evening? The availability of on-site child care may enable parent invitees to attend.
  4. Give without the expectation you’ll receive. While no event should be held without a clear purpose and measurable goals in mind, it’s unfair to expect anything of your attendees. Events should not be viewed as purely transactional (i.e. we host, you attend, and therefore, you award us your business). Remember that ulterior motives are easy to spot and relationships take time to cultivate. Instead of approaching your event with the mindset that prospects will convert to customers overnight, consider these ROI metrics: did attendees speak positively of your offering? Did they sign up to receive your e-newsletter? Did you schedule a follow-up conversation?

Regardless of what field you’re in and who you’re trying to reach, we’re all people. Appealing to your audience’s human side should be top priority when planning an event and will set you up for long-term success, regardless of your business objectives.

February 27, 2018
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