Medical Tradeshows – a thing of the past or way of the future

April 10, 2018

medical trade show trulife

Medical tradeshows have long been extremely popular with both practitioners and medical device companies over the years.

The biggest events draw visitors in their thousands from around the world and offer companies the opportunity to learn more about industry developments, meet with current  and potential business partners, and explore what competitors are developing,

There are several leading tradeshows in the medical field that have traditionally been a must-visit for companies in the industry.  However, the landscape has become densely populated and new expos and tradeshows are popping up all the time. In this article we explore two questions that we believe need to be considered:

  1. Has the increase in the number of events had a knock-on effect on the effectiveness of the long-established tradeshows?
  2. Has the growth of internet-based communications diminished the need to physically attend tradeshows?

Tradeshows – Are attendances dropping?

From shows such as Medtec in Japan and Germany, to Hospitalar in Brazil, HLTH: The Future of Healthcare in the USA and the China International Medical Equipment Fair. The list of events happening in all corners of the globe each month is extensive.

Given the abundance of shows, deciding which ones are most relevant and provide the greatest return on investment has become a priority. Tradeshows are expensive to exhibit at and can take up a lot of a company marketing spend; from attendance fees to transport and accommodation, the total outlay can be significant. That is why it is important to see a return on this investment.

At Trulife we have considered this carefully and exhibiting at larger, more established medical tradeshows such as Medica and Arab Health is still a priority. The scale of larger tradeshows means that they are often more effective when looking to meet a broad spectrum of customers from different regions.

While the attendance at Germany based Medica has fallen slightly to 123,500 from the 2016 figure of 127,781, the number of exhibitors has increased 5,119 to 5,148. It remains the number one medical device show in the world with visitors from over 70 countries in 2017. These statistics prove that this show has to be considered.

Arab Health also owes its strength to its diversity of exhibitors and delegates. In 2017 it hosted 4,072 exhibitors with a 5% increase in visitor number. The increase in attendance at the Dubai show likely owes to the rapidly growing Asian medical device market.

For Trulife, it is ultimately through their scale that tradeshows such as Medica or Arab Health remain extremely worthwhile and provide an excellent platform to meet up with customers – old and new.

The Growth of the Internet

In our experience the pros to attending tradeshows are many, particularly meeting our business and end users in person. This allows us the perfect opportunity to tell the Trulife story and explain more about our latest products and our passion for providing innovative solutions that impact positively on people’s lives.

In Trulife we believe that cultivating relationships is one of the most important elements of our business. It gives us real opportunity to gain knowledge about the patients and practitioners experience using Trulife products.  We manufacture in Ireland, the UK, Canada and the USA and we maintain a global presence through a network of more than 300 distributors in over 100 countries.

Attending tradeshows often presents the best opportunity to meet our customers and suppliers, providing us with an opportunity to better understand each other.  It also gives customers selling the same product in different markets the chance to learn from each other.

Sometimes the feedback we have received down through the years has contributed to improvements to our prosthetics, orthotics, seating solutions and pressurecare ranges, as well as sparking ideas for exciting new additions. This feedback along with understanding trends taking place continues to be invaluable in helping us grow.

While we have highlighted the benefits of selectively choosing the tradeshows to attend there is no doubt that online communication has unrivalled benefits in terms of communication. With the proliferation of information available online it is important to actively engage in a mix of online communication that is right for your company.

For Trulife this incorporates search engine optimisation, email marketing and content marketing, keeping our social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) fresh to engage our audience. Making sure we maximise our touch points with our customers to help to keep them engaged and allow us to communicate with them effectively.

A 2016 survey conducted by Microsoft on media consumption revealed that people’s average attention span had dropped to eight seconds, down from twelve in the year 2000. So, to keep people interested it is necessary to engage them and attract them in new and exciting ways.

To do this we have updated our website a number of times over the last few years in terms of design, usability and content. For instance making our site mobile compatible, an extremely important update as research has found that 51% of global web traffic now originates from mobile devices. We also added a Distributor Enquiry Form to our site, produced greater articles/blog content and improved our SEO ranking through organic site optimisation. Since implementing these changes the numbers of leads and new customers acquired through online engagement has risen steadily which gives credence to investing further in this area.

Ultimately the question companies may need to answer in the future is whether to invest money in their website and SEO instead of shows?

For the moment – we believe that getting the balance right between attending certain tradeshows and perfecting your online presence is the key in the medical device market.

Is a dual approach the best solution?

In 2017 the number of international leads received through our website equated to approx. 50% of the overall leads acquired through other channels; at a fraction of the cost.                                        We fully expect the number of leads and new business acquired through online channels to grow further in coming years.

It is important to note that you can improve your exhibitor success by utilising digital marketing methods – re-contacting leads from previous years and letting them know about new products etc. Promoting your company on the tradeshows online portal, as well as on your own website and social media pages has improved both the traffic to our homepage and visitors at an exhibition.  Illustrating that combining both online marketing and attending key tradeshows where invaluable face-to-face meetings take place is the best option.

In summary, we have demonstrated that trade shows are still relevant; however it is key to measure your success / failures every year to enable you to determine the continued effectiveness of exhibiting at tradeshows for the following year.

Events Trulife Will Be Attending in the Coming Year

Medica 2018 – Dusseldorf, Germany; 12-16 November 2018

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