Rationalizing Events – Decisions and Investments

For many businesses, events provide an essential channel for connecting directly with customers and generating revenue. Events give businesses the opportunity to show their thought leadership and extend their brand presence. They also provide opportunities for employees to learn and connect with peers. Alternatively, some businesses see events as total boondoggles; not recognizing them as a valuable investment for the employees or for revenue generation.

No business wants to waste time or money towards events that do not provide some value. Yet, time and time again, businesses invest in the wrong events and miss out on the right events. Hence, event activities feel like waste and mis-use of budgets and resources.

Continuing to invest in events using the old mindsets will not help businesses be more strategic and increase their return on investment (ROI). Here are just a few examples of how the event decision mindset needs to shift and evolve:

Old mindset (O): All of our competitors are there…
New mindset (N): What evidence or information do we have to confirm that we this particular event is the right event for us and our business? If all of our competitors are there, it is going to be a very noisy event, what do we need to do to differentiate our products and brand? How much will we need to invest? How does this event impact the rest of our sales and marketing efforts and event strategies for the remainder of the year?

O: Our customers are there…
N: What evidence or information do we have to confirm that we this particular event is the right event for us and our business? Are the customers that are going to the event considered decision makers? Influencers? They will be bombarded by other people (eg competitors) wanting their time, what do we need to do pre-event to make sure that they spend their time with us?

O: We have always gone to that event …
N: What evidence or information do we have to confirm that we this particular event is the right event for us and our business? Are we investing in the right way? Should we increase or reduce our investment? How does this event impact the rest of our sales and marketing efforts and event strategies for the remainder of the year?

O: I earned going to this event…
N: What will you bring back and implement with your projects and team? Who will you pro-actively seek out for conversations and networking? What could you do to help extend our company’s brand?

O: There’s not enough budget to…
N: If these are the right events, what are other ways that we can get value out of these events? Can we use the public agendas to target new customers? Can we review the exhibit hall floor map to gather competitive intelligence? What type of budget will we need next year to ensure that we are at the event and investing at the right level?

O: We didn’t have time to measure or collect data…
N: We don’t have time to waste budget and resources.

To HIMSS or Not To HIMSS? Find the Answer With 5 Questions

What’s reality vs perception?

The decision to exhibit at HIMSS or any other large trade show is usually made a year in advance. Do companies really know how to work a large show to get the most ROI? Is it really just about deep pockets? Are there other less expensive ways to have a competitive edge? This blog outlines the 5 questions to answer to HIMSS or not to HIMSS.

What is so magical about HIMSS? Does it really produce results? What’s reality vs perception?

With an estimated 40,000 attendees, the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Meeting is among the largest trade shows focused on healthcare information technology.  This year HIMSS will take over the Orlando Convention Center from February 19-23.

In many ways, HIMSS is no different than any other massive trade show. But, is HIMSS really the mecca for making HIT deals happen? Let’s look at the numbers.

There are over 1,200 exhibitors scheduled for this year’s exhibit floor. But, …

  • only 50% of the exhibitors are returning from 2016
  • only 25% of the exhibitors exhibited in 2015 and 2016
  • only 80 of the exhibitors go back to 2014
Based on the Lodescore Analytics database, HIMSS has churned through 3,000 exhibitors on its exhibit floor in the past three years.

Is HIMSS a bad trade show?

Why do companies decide not to exhibit at HIMSS? What does the churn really represent?

Not enough return on investment
Companies invest millions of dollars on concrete floor space, booths, and entertainment for 4 days of HIMSS exhibit time. It would be very difficult to justify this kind of expense without measurable return on investment from new partnerships and measurable new revenue.
Companies are flaming out
Healthcare is slow to evolve and change. It’s a $7 Trillion market. Huge opportunities for innovation and technology. Many start-ups run for the prize, but flame out before they get beyond the Valley of Death.
Not the right trade show or do not do the pre-work
HIMSS might not be the right event for a company. Even with 40k attendees, they may not fit the customer profile or have the decision authority to buy. Also, the exhibit floor is massive and many first timers are not prepared, don’t pre-seed or pull traffic to their booths, and drown in the sea of logos on the exhibit floor.

So, do you HIMSS or not? Here are the 5 questions to inform your HIMSS decision:

1. Are you a true start-up that is looking for its first customers?
You will get lost at HIMSS. You could get a badge and go guerrilla, but it probably would be best to find other smaller, more targeted HIT events that will cost less time and money.
2. Are you a start-up with tech partners?
See if your partner will allow you to hang and use their booth for demos and potential client meetings. If not, go guerrilla at HIMSS and focus on other smaller, more targeted HIT events. NOTE – Not all pavilions are the same. The Intelligent Health Pavilion does a phenomenal job showcasing tangible use cases and qualified HIT solutions. It doesn’t matter where it is on the show floor – just go. Then, there are pavilions filled with kiosks and are the lowest level entry for start-ups. I have never seen them get good foot traffic and  they usually turn into ghost towns by end of Day 2.
3. Are you a start-up with customers?
Go guerilla. Pack your schedule with customer meetings/dinners. Analyze the education program. Identify speakers that match your customer profile and then plant yourself in the front row during their presentation. Be prepared to recognize something specific about their interests when you introduce yourself following their presentation.
4. Are you a company between $1M-$15M?
DO NOT EXHIBIT. I know that it is so tempting and your marketing company will be chomping at the bit. But, you will be a small fish. You will be located on the side walls and will not get the traffic that you hoped for. Save up until you can get into the middle and/or the aisles to run with the big companies. Invest your money towards guerrilla tactics – send more employees and work the show beyond the exhibit floor. Work the educational programs, plan customer meetings and dinners, entertain like a King. You’ll probably spend as much, but if your tactics are focused and customer-centric, it will deliver the ROI that you need to grow revenue.
5. Are you a company >$15M?
Do a 20×20 foot booth (or bigger) and hand out Jelly Belly’s, Starbuck’s, or branded bottled water (my favorite!). Location matters; use the McDonald’s vs Burger King strategy and try to get near a cluster of your competitors. Their traffic becomes your traffic. Just think of that qualified lead visiting the booth next door and you lure them as they are leaving. Pre-plan meetings and find ways to show off your C-Suite executives through off-site events and dinners. Finally, make sure that you actually do something with all of your badge scan data. It’s unbelievable statistic but a reputable badge company shared with me that 80% of badge data is never touched post event. How’s that for effective pull-through tactics?

The reality is that HIMSS is what you make of it. Your success and decisions will depend on many factors. Ultimately, businesses need to be smarter about where, when, and how much they invest. They need to critically assess customer and competitor activities and tie them to quantifiable ROI. Lodestone Logic is the only company that provides a suite of productivity tools, data tools, and consulting services to simplify these processes and help you to have a competitive edge.

If you are heading to HIMSS and want to learn more about our Conference Optimization Services, let’s meet up in person. Send me an email at info@lodestonelogic.com.

Here’s to happy HIMSS-ing!

Dreamforce Hangover – What’s your ROI?

Dreamforce is an absolute dream for 170,000 people this week. A giant tech party , including a U2 Benefit concert, spread across San Francisco. Check out the campus map if you don’t believe us. However, the “Dreamforce Hangover” begins the minute that everyone heads to the airport. How much did you really spend? Do you even know? Was it worth it? What is your ROI?

How much should a company plan to spend when they are heading to Dreamforce? It depends.

We threw together some assumptions and calculations, and it’s probably a low-ball estimate…
A company that is a Titanium sponsor needs to budget $3.6M for direct costs and $250k for their employee’s time at the event.

To generate a positive ROI, all of the investments and time tied to Dreamforce will need to deliver almost $4M in new revenue. That’s a quite a distance from the $1.5M base entry fee for that level of sponsorship.

Start-ups always experience sticker shock . They scrape together $25k, only to realize that they need to find an additional $30k to really “be there”. And, the kicker is that they don’t even get into the U2 concert.

And, no one ever loads in the value of “time”. We’ve included loaded FTE costs for being away from typical responsibilities and tasks. But, what we haven’t included is the “opportunity costs”. How many sales did you lose by having a rep camping a booth versus working their territory for that week? How many opportunities did you lose by spending money towards the wrong conferences?

We are human. Our resources – time and money – are limited. Our decisions have the best of intentions. We believe that new business will come. We have hope.

Yet, many sales and marketing people admit to making very large investments towards conferences and trade shows based on gut. They have no way of explaining why one show did better than the other. And, they know that they are missing opportunities, they just do not know what they are. They have never powered their decisions with data.

This is where Lodestone Logic is a strategic partner. We help our customers access event data and tools to –

  • Prospect and target like a rockstar,
  • Track competitors and customers,
  • Generate strategic business insights,
  • Be uber efficient AND effective, and
  • Increase ROI!

4 Tips for Rocking HIMSS 2016

HIMSS has been one of the biggest and most popular Health IT conferences for over a decade. Last year, Chicago recorded over 43,000 attendees, hundreds of presentations, and thousands of exhibit booths. With the anticipation of this year’s show in Las Vegas, Lodestone Logic, the leader of conference information, has put together a short list of tips to help attendees, speakers, and exhibitors make the most of HIMSS 2016:

  1. Know your objectives. Know your objectives. HIMSS is a huge show; We are tracking it at 1380 of sponsors and exhibitors and 620 of educational sessions and posters. It’s exciting with all of the crowds and activities, and very easy to lose focus on why you decided to attend. Make sure that you are constantly evaluating the best use of your time and attention.
  2. Attack the exhibit floor. Lodestone Logic profiles company activities across thousands of conferences. Our dashboards show that 18 of the top 20 HIT firms are at HIMSS this year. Want to know about their new products? Want to connect with their technology and data experts? You have to be strategic and plan which vendors you want to visit.  Don’t lose any time or shoe leather, map out your path and be intentional. Work from back to front or side-to-side for each of the exhibit floors.
  3. Wear Broncos Orange or Colts Blue to Peyton’s Keynote. Make the most of the educational sessions. With 4/5 stars, HIMSS has a solid educational program. It has many sessions about the trials and tribulations of EHR adoption, challenges of health data breaches, and connecting devices and data to improve the delivery of care. Don’t miss keynote sessions from Michael Dell, CEO of Dell and Lodestone Insight’s old hometown favorite, Peyton Manning.
  4. Measure. Measure. Make sure that the money and time that you invested towards HIMSS gave you an ROI based on your original objectives. If you went to learn, did you? If you went to connect with customers and create new sales, did it? If you went to network, did you connect with your peers and grow your network? Be honest. Was HIMSS worth it? If so, start thinking about next year. If not, contact us to help you find conferences that would help you better meet your objectives.

We hope that you enjoyed this post on how to rock HIMSS 2016. Lodestone Insights is tracking over 5,000 conferences in the life sciences, pharmaceutical, business, and technology sectors. We put information at the fingertips of business leaders allowing them to make more informed and strategic business decisions.