In today's digital era, congress booths play a crucial role in engaging and educating visitors about treatments, patient challenges, and the latest advancements in the healthcare industry. To ensure a successful booth experience, healthcare brands must adopt strategic principles that prioritize visitor needs and tailor engagements accordingly. Additionally, incorporating tactical principles can enhance the overall impact and effectiveness of the booth. In this article, we will explore three strategic principles and eight tactical principles for digital engagement at medical congress booths.
By providing personalized recommendations, interactive tools, and informative content tailored to the brand’s audience’s interests, digital engagement can effectively engage and inspire visitors to learn more about its treatments and patient challenges.
Some visitors may be more scientifically minded and interested in the data, while others may be more humanistic and interested in the patient experience and outcomes. Additionally, some visitors may be introverted and prefer one-on-one interactions. In contrast, others may be extroverted and enjoy participating in group activities or interactions that are likely to draw attention from other attendees.
The concept or theme should be developed to support the brand’s key messages and audience interests. A well-developed concept can create a memorable and impactful experience for visitors, leaving a lasting impression and reinforcing the desired message. For example, “Fresh Air” could be set as a unifying concept for a respiratory-TA-focused booth, and all content, designed elements, and engagement activities should be expressed through the lens of this concept.
90% key topics of Interest, 10% fun attractors / ice-breakers: Most engagement should be informative and educational content tailored to visitors' needs and interests. However, it's also important to remember that visitors may become overwhelmed or disengaged if the booth is too serious or clinical. This is where the remaining 10% of digital engagement efforts come in - fun icebreakers or interactive activities that can draw visitors in and help them relax and enjoy their experience.
– e.g., VR for conveying a patient experience in their own environment
It’s essential to have a reason for using a specific technology. This means leveraging technology to provide experiences that are impossible or difficult to achieve in other ways. VR, augmented reality, touchscreen experiences, holograms, and apps all have specific strengths in communicating certain ideas or feelings in a particular way. Using these technologies to their strength makes the communication more effective and will not come across as gimmicky.
Communicate in unexpected ways
Using interactive tools, gamification, or storytelling in unexpected ways can create an immersive and engaging experience that differentiates from competitors’ booths and can help to convey complex information in a more digestible, memorable, and entertaining way, making it easier for visitors to understand and retain key messages.
This principle should be applied with a light touch to avoid being seen as overly frivolous or chaotic.
Getting e-permission from visitors makes it possible to continue the conversation with the visitor after the congress. As incentives for e-permissions must be of little or no monetary value, incentives can include providing access to exclusive content, digital premiums like customized photos, valuable apps, special in-booth experiences like one-on-one meetings with KOLs, special immersive experiences, or even donations to a cause.
HCPs like to find out about the opinions of their peers, particularly around current hot topics that might be the subject of a congress. By leveraging in-booth polls and surveys via touchscreens, as well as polls and surveys accessible by virtual congress attendees, brands can collect valuable insights and display the attendees’ opinions in real-time online and via large attractive displays. A report could also be generated after the congress with KOL or patient views added, which visitors can receive in return for providing their e-permission.
Offering virtual attendees the opportunity to engage with physical attendees creates a sense of community and engagement that extends beyond the booth, providing a valuable and memorable experience. This can be achieved through interactive tools like polls accessible in-congress and virtually, live social media feeds on screens in the booth, live chat or video conferencing, or interactive booth experiences accessible to both virtual and physical attendees.
Using relevant and creative hashtags, brands can encourage visitors to share their experiences on social media, create a buzz around the booth and extend its reach beyond the physical space. Additionally, brands can use hashtags to connect with visitors before, during, and after the event, providing a way to continue the conversation. Hashtags should be displayed prominently throughout the booth and incorporated into interactive tools or installations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the way audiences approach high-touch experiences at medical congress booths. Visitors may be more cautious about physical contact and proximity to others, leading to a desire for low-touch or touchless experiences. It should be made clear to visitors that screens, panels, etc., are sanitized regularly, and AR and VR headsets are sanitized after each use.
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