TRICKS OF THE TRADE
Our Experience for Your Use
This website was created created and co-founded by us – Sarah Breymeier and Ann Dosen.
Both of us have spent nearly ten years in the podiatry industry, attending dozens upon dozens of podiatric meetings and trade shows.
Therefore, we want to put our experience to good use!
Below are some helpful “tricks of the trade” from us to you… enjoy!
TRICKS AND TIPS FOR VENDORS
TOO MUCH READING?
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You register to exhibit at a meeting, then a couple months before the conference, you receive the Exhibitor Service Kit. So many words. Material Handling Fees?! What?!
Many larger conferences outsource the handling of shipments to a third party (GES, Freeman, etc).
While sometimes it’s required to ship to their warehouse and pay their fees, make sure you do your due diligence and explore all your options.
It may be possible to ship direct to the hotel, or to the business center and pay a fraction of what the material handling fees would be.
A word of caution- be prepared to learn the hard way a time or two. Make sure you check the hours of the business center to be certain they can accept your return shipment on a Saturday or after hours.
As you attend the same conferences year after year, make note of the most efficient and economical shipping method for each one.
Watch the video below to hear Ann discuss quick tips for effective, efficient, and economical shipping of trade show display materials.
TOO MUCH READING?
Scroll down to watch Sarah discuss her Vendor “Trick of the Trade” on video.
Trust me… I get it! When official exhibit hall hours are over all I want to do is hop on my plane and get home to snuggle my puppies!
But one thing we all know… the more face time you have with your current and prospective customers – the better.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gained a new client/customer as I am packing up my booth – not to mention the extra/optional days when I am one of only a handful of vendors still in the exhibit hall.
With the expense you and/or your company has invested in the exhibitor fee on top of the travel and entertainment costs… why not go all in and make the most of your valuable time and dollar!
Your bottom line (or maybe your commissions) just may thank you!
Watch the video below to hear Sarah discuss the importance of taking advantage of every single exhibit hall minute.
Have you purchased a sponsorship package for a conference your company has attended? You know the ones- a list of “benefits” that really do nothing for you, in an effort to have your logo listed among the other event sponsors for just a little bump in visibility?
Have you written the check that goes along with it? It’s not pretty.
Next time you consider sponsoring a meeting, enter into the conversation with more of a negotiating frame of mind. Come prepared with a few ideas you’ve seen and ask that they be switched out for line items that don’t mean much to you.
Maybe your goal is to relaunch your brand and so visibility is your #1 priority. Ask for logo floor decals, column wraps, rotating ads in the elevators and do away with the items you don’t need such as welcome bag inserts and ad space.
Sponsorship packages are not one size fits all. Consider a custom approach. You never know the possibilities unless you ask.
TOO MUCH READING?
Scroll down to watch Ann & Sarah discuss this Vendor “Trick of the Trade” on video.
Every company knows that the exhibitor expense must produce ROI. So you send your all-star sales team and hope they produce results!
Yes. Keep doing that. But… meetings also provide a unique opportunity to utilize the skills of other team members.
Often, once the sales rep closes an account, the points of contact become your customer service representatives… and they can build lasting relationships! So bring them along and let their loyal fans meet them in person.
Your happy customers will be excited to see the people they know and they may even bring their colleagues to the booth giving you an opportunity to gain a new customer simply by letting your current customer talk you up!
Simply put.. don’t forget about the personal advantage you have at a conference. No communication is richer than face-to-face communication… so maximize the opportunity with your A-team!
Watch the video below to hear Ann & Sarah discuss how to pick the right people for your tradeshow floor/booth.
Trade shows – those of us in the industry continue to claim that they’re getting harder and harder, however, we all feel that there is a big risk in not investing dollars in them at all.
After traveling to countless podiatric trade shows over the last ten years for different companies and for myriad of goals, it appears that the experience and the perceived success ( for the most part ) is simply a state of mind.
For example, if you ask around to those of us “veterans” who have been exhibiting for years, the excitement has dwindled and the days seem long; the return on investment just doesn’t seem to be there. However, if you ask a novice, the complete opposite energy and feedback is provided. The new sales reps have positivity, energy, and hope!
Regardless of which side of the coin a podiatric supplier falls, the long and short of it is that a trade show presence is necessary to maintain current business and to acquire new business.
The nature of podiatrists (especially those in private practice), is that they are typically the sole decision-maker of their business. The exceptions are the practices that have empowered practice managers. Even in these cases, the practice manager isn’t going to make a radical change without consulting the physician. They are the decision makers… and they’re busy. Finding time to read and respond to sales calls and emails is not a part of the daily routine.
Therefore, trade shows give vendors a unique opportunity to not only create awareness, but create interest, and ultimately close a new account. Trade shows are, point-blank, a necessity in the podiatric space.
The difference in what makes a trade show successful from a decade (or more) ago in comparison to today is the communication strategy. Selling just doesn’t work anymore.
Wait. What? Selling doesn’t work? No – it doesn’t. It is repellent.
Hard selling is the quickest way to find your trade show booth empty, depressing, and a big waste of money. Instead, education, awareness, and good old-fashioned customer service is where trade show success now lies.
So know your stuff, answer any questions your customers and/or prospects may have and let the relationship take its course. The right matches between physician and supplier always seem to find their way.
TRICKS AND TIPS FOR PHYSICIANS
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You’ve been there… the meeting check in line on the first day of a meeting – it’s a nightmare. The line to register is long and the lecture you wanted to be in the first row for is probably almost over by now.
Often I will see attendees arrive on Day 1 after driving in the morning of. It seems to make sense if you live relatively close… no need to spend money on an additional room night. But, if your time and your budget can manage it, bite the bullet and stay the night before Day 1.
You will eliminate morning stress by checking in for the meeting (and the hotel) the day/night before… you won’t miss any lectures… and you can take a little time for you by treating yourself to a nice dinner.
Vacation time can be hard to find, so give yourself a moment to relax before a long weekend of excitement and learning begins!
Watch the video below to hear Sarah discuss the benefits of staying the night before Day 1 of a conference – even if you live nearby!
TOO MUCH READING?
Scroll down to watch Ann discuss her Attendee “Trick of the Trade” on video.
You’ve identified which lectures you want to be sure you attend. You get there on time and feverishly take notes recording the groundbreaking content you are hearing. The lecture ends and you run off to the next. NO!
Take a minute to introduce yourself to the speaker, ask him/her a direct question, exchange contact information. Communicate on social media. Then, when you have a question come up in your practice, you will feel comfortable reaching out to him/her for a quick opinion.
Continue the learning process outside of the seminar. Who knows, maybe you will develop a relationship that leads to adding him/her to your advisory board or reconnecting whenever you are on the road.
Watch the video below to hear Ann discuss why you should spark up a conversation with seminar faculty members.
TOO MUCH READING?
Scroll down to watch Ann and Sarah discuss their DPM “Trick of the Trade” on video.
As an exhibitor and sales representative myself, I know how depressing an empty exhibit hall can be. BUT, it’s nobody’s fault! Sometimes there are meetings where physicians are not ready to put themselves in the market place.
I’ve also witnessed the “hard sell” exhibitor… you know the kind… the one who basically throws a lasso around you and pulls you into the booth space. Not fun. Plus it leaves an icky taste in your mouth… and likely deters you from wanting to visit the hall again.
However, I urge you to always take at least one strong, focused lap around the exhibit hall. First – it is possible to avoid the reps that are relentless; simply look down and keep walking. And then, when you look back up, you just might see something that intrigues you.
It may be a new piece of equipment… it may be a new, innovative wound dressing… it may be a company that provides practice management solutions that you’ve never considered before.
Until you’re there… you don’t know what you don’t know. New, surprising products and services are always popping up. So put yourself in the excitement of it all and see if there’s something you didn’t even realize could take your practice to the next level!
P.S. There’s also usually yummy treats in the exhibit hall too…. so BONUS!!
Watch the video below to hear Ann and Sarah discuss why attendees should browse the exhibit hall even if you’re not shopping for anything specific.
We know you typically attend the same podiatry conferences each year. It’s nice to catch up with old classmates or colleagues and friends you’ve made along the way.
But- consider attending a new conference that you haven’t been to yet. Pick one that focuses on a specialty that interests you: practice management, wound care, sports medicine, derm, MIS, etc.
Not only will you meet a new group of people, but you will also learn new content that you may not have been exposed to at the other meeting. Ask around for recommendations or check our meeting calendar to see what’s available.
There’s no way around it – you’re going to register for meetings and get your credits. If you take a look at our meeting calendar, there’s no doubt there are SEVERAL that you can choose from.
So how do you choose? What are the factors that force you to say, “that’s where I want to invest my education dollars.”
You may choose a meeting that’s close to home. If you don’t need a hotel room because you can commute during the few days… bonus. You may also choose a meeting because it’s just the one you’ve always gone to. But what if saving a few bucks or maintaining tradition keeps you from gaining a truly useful experience?
Ask yourself this…
ARE YOU SELECTING MEETINGS THAT FEED YOUR PASSION?
No matter in what area of work anyone spends their daily lives, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Luckily, physicians are in a unique position where they are FORCED to continue their education vs. just showing up to work and going through the same motions every day; “doing it the way we’ve always done it” until retirement. Ultimately, you can turn this obligation into a mandatory reason to become further inspired or re-inspired to grow your skill set and your practice.
You may not even realize that there are niche meetings that can feed your passion, your strengths, and inspire you to create a practice that specializes in the types of patients you want to see every day.
After you’ve asked yourself if you are selecting meetings that feed your passion, ask a second question… what types of patients do I want to see on a daily basis, and where can I elevate my skill set to be the leading practice in my market?
There are many niche meetings that can help hone the skills you desire to keep both your practice thriving and your brain engaged. A few that come to mind include:
AAPSM: Sports Medicine
AMIFAS: Minimally Invasive Surgery
Bottom line, if you’re going to invest in something, invest in what will inspire you and will have a greater chance at helping you achieve practice growth.
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED THIS?
Brainstorming for Meeting/Conference/Event Planners
As a third party collecting feedback from both exhibitors and DPMs about their meeting experiences, we want to share ideas with meeting planners to continue to produce positive reactions!
Reviews are important when making buying decisions for everything from a printer on Amazon to your choice of restaurant for dinner tonight. Keep reading to learn how to boost your rating and why it matters.
There is no escaping the occasional bad review, but with a good amount of positive reviews, they will balance out and give potential attendees and vendors a fair picture of your conference.
It’s basic math.
1.0 + 5.0 = 6.0
Think about when you’ve purchased a product. If you have a negative experience, you are more likely to seek out a platform to write a review so the company knows you are dissatisfied and to warn other potential buyers. If you have a positive experience, you likely won’t go through the trouble of writing a review unless it’s super easy or there is something in it for you. Same goes for your attendee writing a review of your seminar. If they hate it, they will find a way to let their voice be heard. If they love it, they may not take the time to tell anyone how great it was.
You need to actively solicit reviews from your attendees. We know that 92% of solicited reviews are positive. Why would you want to miss out on the opportunity to spread the good word about your event?
Having a customer review strategy in place will be an ongoing part of your attendee retention. People feel most confident in a review when the event has a minimum of 11-50 reviews.
Here are some ways to gather reviews to boost your rating and credibility on our site.
- Send an email to your audience asking them to take a few moments to review your seminar on our site. Include a link to make it super easy.
- Offer an incentive. Consider a small trinket or entry into a sweepstakes for a larger prize. Work with us to choose a winner based on who completed surveys.
- Include a request in your on-site program with instructions on how to provide feedback through PodiatryMeetings.com
- Mail a postcard
- Post on social media with a link to the survey
To help you collect positive reviews, we’ve created a downloadable resource with a quick and simple message you can use to ask for reviews.
With many meetings moving to the online space in light of our current situation, you may be considering converting to a virtual meeting rather than cancelling outright.
Virtual meetings are a wonderful resource and learning activity, but I have one small tip for meeting planners, especially if this is your first time hosting a full-scale educational meeting online. Record your sessions in advance.
If this is your first time streaming lecture content, whether a single webinar or a full-scale event, do not attempt to live broadcast every lecture.
I suggest recording your main sessions in advance or have each speaker submit their recordings by a certain date. You can review and edit, then make them live at specific times during the actual meeting dates.
Another way to promote engagement is to have each speaker log in at a specific time, at the tail of their pre-recorded lecture, and host a live Q&A available for attendees. This is also when you can take attendance for CME purposes.
Additionally, if you plan to offer credit for your virtual sessions, be sure to review the CPME guidelines specific to internet-based educational activities. Many requirements are similar, but there are a few nuances you should be aware of.
Email Ann at email@example.com if you would like more information about CPME guidelines for virtual meetings.
Creating new ways for sponsors to generate stronger awareness at your meeting can be a huge challenge! Sometimes it may seem like all the ideas have been tried, right?!
We’re still going to give it a shot, though!! Maybe circling back to some ideas you had previously can generate new life, or you may think of something that wouldn’t have worked previously, but may have the potential today!
Consider throwing out the old sponsorship packages and try something new. Here are some ideas:
Offer only ala carte options. List each benefit individually with it’s own price tag and let your vendors create a package that fits their budget and marketing goals.
Create packages that offer both branding and something tangible. For example: specialty signage and other visibility plus special event tickets (they can give away or use for themselves).
Offer a virtual sponsorship for companies that are unable to exhibit due to their schedule and staffing or budget reasons. A virtual sponsorship can include signage and logo listing in various places, a promo item or handout in the welcome bag, and an email shoutout in your pre-conference marketing. Use the message, “Can’t exhibit but still want to have a presence?”
Redesign your sponsorship packages to suit your vendor’s goals. Consider a “Brand Visibility Package” focused on creative signage and logo displays, or a “Tech Lover’s Package” with charging stations and branded promo items, or a “Presentation Opportunity Package” with a sponsor message during a meal time, or a “Social Media Package” with a live social media wall, hashtag, promotion on social media and email marketing… You get the idea.
Bottom line… eliminate the thought “We’ve always done it this way” and start getting creative! Be sure your sponsorships offer both value and awareness.
As you know, many of the conferences and seminars in the podiatric industry are run by organizations or associations. Additionally, associations are also often run by a rotating group of members, elected to fill a position for 1 or 2 years. The quick turnaround of individuals in leadership positions in these associations and organizations can make it difficult to “copy and paste” from one year to the next.
With new leadership comes new ideas to run your organization’s meeting. While new ideas are highly encouraged and often lead to positive change; there are certain meeting aspects that need to be “copied and pasted” from year to year; and hitting those marks can become less efficient given the re-training of new people every couple of years. In addition to filling a leadership role, most members who are involved in helping with meeting planning and implementation are also busy, practicing physicians. This can create even more stress and distraction from the goals of the main event.
One way to ensure a smooth transition from one leadership team to the next, is to outsource the tasks associated with the annual conference. This ensures that each yearly event maintains the same basic flow and strengthens crucial relationships (like those with sponsors and faculty) year after year.
Deciding to outsource a project can be a bit of an overwhelming decision. You might find yourself drowning in questions like:
How do you find the right person or company?
How do you get started?
What tasks do you delegate?
How do you manage efficient communication?
So, let’s break it down.
Finding the right person or company.
Look to your network. Ask others within your organization if they know of anyone that can take over conference related tasks. If no names come up there, broaden your search to your peers within the podiatric industry. Do they have anyone that comes to mind? Be sure you select someone that is familiar with the podiatric industry as it does have a fair amount of “quirks”. If your annual conference offers continuing education credit, look for someone with experience in CPME standards for CME activities.
Ask yourself which you need to delegate. The first thing is to have a “Discovery Call” with your selected third-party where you provide some background about your organization, it’s conference and any struggles that come to mind. Your consultant will have questions as well and this all leads to a conversation that gives a birds-eye view of what is needed and where the “pain points” are.
I always suggest starting with the task on your plate that you’ve been putting off, or that you consider to be your most “pain-in-the-butt” task. Once this is complete, it will give you a sense of accomplishment and it will have allowed the consultant an opportunity to see the systems and processes already in place within your organization and perhaps to offer recommendations for improvements.
Moving forward, be sure to have clearly identified roles and responsibilities. You want to be sure you never have more than one person working on the same action item. It’s just not efficient and leads to confusion within your organization.
Managing efficient communication.
In addition to clearly defining roles and responsibilities, discuss expectations regarding method and frequency of communication. Will there be weekly update calls or emails? Will there be daily updates for specific projects? When you send an email to your consultant, how long will it be before they will respond? Who within your organization needs to be included on items related to: site selection and logistics, speaker selection and agenda, exhibits and sponsors?
Be as clear as possible from the beginning and adjust as necessary. Typically, when you first get started with a consultant, they will wait to receive guidance from you and let you set the pace for level of involvement.
Finally, you must decide if outsourcing is a good fit for your organization and its goals. Therefore, it’s critical to break down the pros and cons so you can have a balanced view and can make the best decision.
Pros and Cons of Outsourcing
Allows the organization to focus on the core aspects of their mission while delegating specialized tasks to an expert.
Eliminates the cost of any “wasted time” because consultants typically charge by the hour and only bill when they are actively working on a project.
Ensures a seamless transition from year to year.
Carries both positive and negative feedback into future years for continuous improvement.
Communication can be difficult if standards are not in place.
Some organization leaders will find it difficult to not have direct access to a consultant at all times.
Examples of Tasks to Outsource Related to Meeting Planning
Marketing (digital and print strategy)
Print and promotional materials – selection, design, ordering
CECH/CME related requirements
On-Site assistance at the registration table, as a runner, exhibitor liaison, etc
Managing exhibitors and sponsors
Registration process and badge printing
And much, much more