How Successful is Your Product Theater?

Product theaters are certainly not new to the mix when considering marketing opportunities available at most tradeshows, including those tradeshows in the healthcare segment of the exhibits industry, as Jackie Beaulieu explains.

If you aren’t familiar, product theaters are dedicated engagement areas that provide a learning opportunity to reach a targeted audience, such as clinicians or HCPs. Quality time and meaningful discussions are the hopeful outcomes of producing a product theater. And while many organizations have sponsored a product theater, success is not a given. Some product theaters are successful and some, not so much.

 

As someone that has seen both first-hand, I can tell you that in my experience, the first step to success is to read up and ask questions on the association’s rules and regulations related to its product theater offering. Each association structures its rules differently, so it is not always a “one size fits all” product. Ask questions and make the exhibits manager your best friend. Word of warning, not having a comprehensive understanding the rules can make for a costly and unsuccessful venture.

The most obvious difference is that some associations market, register, promote and provide all the operational logistics, while other associations do not. Many associations essentially offer the meeting space and leave the rest for the sponsoring organization to coordinate and arrange. So be sure to find out well in advance what is required to be successful so there is ample time to prepare and promote the product theater to the desired target audience. While a product theater can be an extension of your exhibiting efforts, it will typically require similar efforts to those of a successful exhibit booth. Set goals, pre-market, create educational content, scan badges, and complete follow-up. Again, a bit simplified, but it demonstrates and highlights many of the very same tasks necessary to produce a successful exhibit booth program.

A product theater is an extension of your exhibit program and requires similar efforts to ensure success.

Product theaters are an ideal environment for education in a variety of formats. Depending on the needs of the sponsoring company, product theaters allow for company representatives, researchers or designees to discuss patient educational issues, research, products or to conduct demonstrations. All must have prior approval and availability is usually a first-come, first serve basis, typically available during the day during unopposed hours. Limited availability can make planning and applying for space in a timely fashion, an important part of securing a product theater.

Another important facet to consider are the marketing and promotional materials, both of which must follow the association’s rules as well. Most associations clearly state in the prospectus that all marketing and promotional materials produced by the sponsoring organization include a statement related to continuing education, as well as language that states the association does not endorse the product theater or anything that is related to it in an official capacity. Be sure all of these types of materials are approved prior to printing, and distributed through approved marketing opportunities designated by the association. In other words, read the prospectus and when in doubt, be sure to ask. What a costly and embarrassing mistake to find out at the last minute that a rule has been broken and materials can’t be used.

As alluded to earlier, a product theater is similar to the production of a successful exhibit booth. So it would make sense that additional items to consider related to a product theater are pre-show promotion, signage, speakers, audio visual, meals and lead retrieval. Each of these categories may need different requirements based on the association. Be sure to incorporate each into your overall plan for success. And, if you are giving away a meal, be sure to scan the badges so that CMS Open Payments requirements can be met.

The most important piece of advice is to determine if a product theater will provide the best forum to assist your company in reaching its predetermined goals. When that has been established, read the prospectus and ask questions. Don’t make assumptions. A product theater is an investment and usually includes very specific criteria set forth by the association. So while it is important to work with vendor partners that understand the unique needs of healthcare exhibitors, it is also vital to remember that when there are doubts…ASK! Be sure, either you or your vendor partner develop a strong relationship with the exhibits manager and make them your new best friend…that is a true investment that will pay dividends!


How to Attract and -Importantly - Retain Millennials

Baby Boomers, Generation X-ers, and Millennials all face one challenge; the differing views, values, and outlooks characteristic of each generation and how to effectively communicate between them. However, while generations past enjoyed the ability to disconnect, the world inhabited by Millennials has broken down all the boundaries of conversation, learning and, perhaps most significantly, business. Eric Troy explains how the workplace is evolving to incorporate the ideas of a new generation, and what you can do to keep these valuable young minds close.

In 2014, thirty-six percent of the workforce consisted of millennial employees. By 2020, this will have risen to fifty percent, while by 2030, an anticipated seventy-five percent of the workplace will be comprised of individuals born between 1982 and 1996. It is an inevitable future. Just as the Traditionalist generation passed the reins to the Baby Boomers, and they to Generation X, so too must the Millennials learn from their predecessors, and vice-versa.

You want the best the Millennial generation has to offer, but in order to attract and retain those shining representatives you must first ask a question:

What do they want?

Millennials see the workplace as more than simply a means to an end. They want to be involved with something bigger than themselves. They want to feel of value to the organization and not like just another cog in the machine.

  • They want to be involved with something bigger than themselves.
  • They want to feel valuable.
  • They want to progress.

How do you do that?

Show them what your organization does to engage its employees.
Company events where employees of all types congregate are a great way to show this upcoming generation that your company wants its employees to share more memories than their workday trials and tribulations.

These events show that there are open lines of communication between all employees, not just immediate co-workers. They help create a more cohesive and less daunting work environment which appeals to the team-oriented, collaborative views of Millennials.

Millennials are collaborative and team-oriented.

Inform them of training and development opportunities
Millennials are always looking toward the future and how they will shape it. They have grown up in a time of immense technological advancement, and have had to constantly adapt their minds to keep up with each new form technology has taken. This makes Millennials keen and continuous learners that not only thirst for new information, but thrive on it.

Be sure to make apparent the opportunities for further training and advancement your company offers to its employees. Let them know that you are willing to invest in their skills and that employment in your company isn’t just a way to pay the bills. It’s a place where they can better themselves and strive toward future goals.

Allow them to be casual (within reason)
According to the Society for Human Resources Management 2015 Employee Benefits Survey, 62 percent of organizations allowed casual dress once a week, while 36 percent allowed it every day. Why? Physical comfort creates a more welcoming workplace, and Millennials prefer an environment where suits and ties are replaced by jeans and fashionable gym shoes.

However, disciplined mindsets are also important for a successful business, so be sure to implement boundaries. No flip-flops and pajama pants!

Mix It Up
Variety is the spice of life, and as Steelcase reports, it’s not just a Millennial thing. People of all generations crave informal, casual and authentic spaces at work. Inspiring, breakout spaces can benefit the holistic well being of workers while helping to promote employee engagement. Add the occasional day when employees can work from home, and you’ll be right up there with the most desirable businesses. Oh, and don’t forget… free food. A few $10 pizzas can go a long way!

Inspiring spaces, like the BlueHive lunch room, create holistic wellbeing, as well as encouraging community.