I am back from 2017 Ontario Veterinary Medical Association conference!
Said to be Canada's largest gathering of animal healthcare professionals, this annual event is an opportunity to network with some of the giants in the veterinary industry and to learn from top scientific leaders in the field.
One of my corporate clients had extended an invitation for me to attend. I was given an opportunity to observe and appreciate their team, up close and personal, as they went about their conference business.
From day one, I saw the field team leverage their presence in three distinct ways: 1) At the corporate booth 2) At an evening educational event and 3) In casual client contact during coffee breaks and lunch.
I watched them engage and interact with their customer audiences using some brilliantly basic communication techniques and ultra-modern presentation tactics. As an "instruction-o-logist" (person who studies instructional technology and educational principles), I found it all to be quite fascinating.
Granted, other companies were probably doing some of the same activities. But my clients' booth was one of the busiest. During every product presentation, the booth space filled up quickly. Visitors crowded inside - often spilling out onto the carpeted alleyways.
I was witness to some skillful medical communication, professional education and digital presentation activity.
Could this get any better? Yes, in fact.
After the first full-day at the trade show, the entire team headed out to host their evening educational event.
At a busy trade show with hundreds of North American companies vying for face time with veterinary professionals, it is unusual to have a sold-out learning event. A gifted speaker was on hand to deliver some very practical insights on periodontal disease prevention.
All week, the company had managed a significant waiting list for this session. A number of elements could explain the large draw, including the quality of teacher, creative program design, strong participant recruitment tactics and impeccable event logistics. Customers felt welcome, the meal was well received and the presenter entertained and captivated the audience for more than 90 minutes.
It was a resounding success on all levels - with even more people showing up to the booth, the next day.
Seeing this team in action (working their plan and collaborating to manage the project) was a highlight of my consulting career. They have a blueprint and minute-by-minute "play book" for the next time they run such a creative and sophisticated CE event.
And now the most valuable work begins. The art and science of post trade-show sales involves:
Promptly following-up on any leads
Leveraging the speaker's take-home messages (the repeatable / educational sound bytes that participants can use in their clinics)
Converting the professed interest of customers into actual sales (increased product familiarity and usage)
Using the conference activities as reasons to follow up, repeat messages and engage customers, after-the-fact.
Following up after a trade show or educational event is never easy - not for any company and least of all one with numerous projects on the go.
But this team is skilled and agile. And it was my honor to support them.
* Missing from this photo is a toothbrush! I learned that periodontal disease can be prevented with daily brushing and prescription-quality dental chews. It's a compelling argument for teaching pet owners to be proactive, at home.