If you were lucky enough to secure a booth on the main floor of HIMSS this year – congrats! With the smaller venue in Las Vegas, many first timers and even some established companies are exhibiting in the lower level (former parking garage) at the Sands Expo.
If you are on that lower level or a first-time exhibitor, here are some tried and true suggestions to make the most of your HIMSS experience:
- Start planning ASAP. You won’t be able to cover everything if you wait until after the holidays. Remember HIMSS is early this year: February 29 – March 4, 2016.
- Finalize your messaging theme. There are going to be 45,000+ attendees and thousands of exhibitors at HIMSS. To break through the noise, you need to choose messaging that’s sticky and memorable, not only for your potential customers but for analysts and media as well. Make sure all content, giveaways, and promotions use the same messaging and theme.
- Create a media and analyst contact lists. Get your press release written and approved now. If you are arranging media interviews, now is the time to reach out to your contacts before their schedules get booked. Make your requests on-point, clear, and most of all, polite.
- Think creatively about booth draw. With a first-timer’s budget, you may not be able to give away a Ferrari, but you can come up with some compelling reasons for attendees to visit your booth. Trade publications often run sweepstakes you can get involved in. You can also invite customers or thought leaders into your booth for a designated date and time. Starting in January, send out email blasts promoting the experts in your booth and encourage sign ups to meet them.
- Dedicate at least one person to post live on social media during the show. LinkedIn and Twitter are the two most important social channels at HIMSS, but you may want to consider unconventional channels such as Pinterest if you have a highly visual product. Always take your audience into consideration when creating a social strategy. Research the channels your prospects spend time on and get involved in the conversations. Live social media posting is a great job for a new hire or intern as long as the rules are spelled out clearly before the show. Don’t assign this task to your sales team as they should focus on customers and prospects.
- Don’t be overly paranoid. So many companies spend thousands of dollars to strut their wares, but won’t talk unless an attendee’s badge has a health system name on it. You never know WHO is visiting your booth. Oftentimes hospital executives don’t use their real names or company designations on their badges. I visited a startup’s booth last year and because the president was so forthcoming and welcoming, I was able to connect him to a media friend of mine and the company got some great coverage. You should always know before the show what you can’t say, but more importantly, plan for how much you can actually share (and share as much as you can).
- Double check with your booth vendor/rental company that everything is on schedule. Nothing adds more stress than last-minute changes or issues with your booth.
- Print your collateral. Always print more than you think you need. Bring the digital files saved on a flash drive in case you need to make any last-minute prints at the show.
- Finalize your videos. Make sure you use videos or looping presentations on YouTube. Well-done, creative videos help draw attendees into your booth and give visitors something to engage with if they have to wait for a company representative.
Best of luck at HIMSS 2016. See you in Vegas!