Justifying convention spend is often a tough job. One major hurdle is that conventions as a marketing channel are often misunderstood. Much of the misunderstanding stems from the perception of conventions as a boondoggle—parties, late nights, and mini-vacations. It’s a stigma that, no matter how hard we try, is taking a long time to die.
What do statistics show?
But in point of fact, recent research from Kantar Media’s “Sources & Interactions Study,” September 2015, Medical/Surgical Edition, found that 87% of the more than 3,000 doctors surveyed had attended at least one meeting, conference or convention in the past year.
According to Kantar:
- Exhibit halls appear to be a good opportunity for marketers.
- 97% of the physicians who attend these meetings visit the exhibit halls.
- 67% spend at least 30 minutes or more at the exhibits, with the average being 60.9 minutes per physician (Remember, these are healthcare conventions of all sizes, a fact that influences the averages.)
Qualitative data is equally important as quantitative data
In addition to quantitative reasons for a robust convention program, there are qualitative reasons as well. In spite of the fact that e-marketing and e-detailing have become important promotional and educational channels, the ability to interact face to face with both reps and clinical staff allows the conversation to be much more interactive and in-depth.
Human interaction elevates the education process
The face-to-face interactions at conventions bolster the activities within other channels. As highly trained and motivated as sales reps are, more and more practices are not allowing sales calls or are placing restrictions on rep visits. The good news is there are rumblings of e a backlash from physicians against these restrictions, but until there are substantive changes, the interaction at conventions is the single opportunity for face-to-face dialogue.
And the word is “dialogue” because the marketing intelligence collected as a result of these visits provides a snapshot of physicians’ current prescribing habits and behaviors as well as attitudes toward new therapies in treating diseases. This feedback is critical for marketers who are concerned with crafting the right message for the market.
The future for healthcare conventions is bright
Sharon Langan, as quoted in an article on MeetingsNet entitled, “5 Questions about the Future of BioPharma Meetings” says:
The 21st Century Cures Act is a huge advancement for patients, personalized medicine initiatives, and expanded access to life-transforming treatments. Ultimately it will be a boon for life sciences. It’s about targeted therapies and treatments…It calls for an accelerated pace and faster track on approval of some drugs and devices. So consider this: As healthcare gets more precise, and with the Human Genome Project, there is a need for more robust genetic testing and diagnostic capabilities. Conversely, the market for rare diseases and orphan products will expand, and not just for cancer treatment. This poses a massive need for more physician education, because physicians are ultimately tasked with recognizing symptoms, qualifiers, and conditions when diagnosing their patients with rare conditions. From a meetings perspective, in order to bring that science and physician education forward, I see a lot of need and opportunity.
Advances in medical science will propel the meetings industry as more physicians recognize that meetings will accelerate their learning.