10 Last-Minute + 1 Bonus Pre-HIMSS Marketing Tips
A guest post on pre-HIMSS marketing tips by Judy Volker.
Ah, the last week’s push to HIMSS… the time when event marketers feel the adrenaline rush (and maybe even have some sleepless nights) that comes with knowing the efforts put toward planning are about to come to fruition. The curtain is coming up on the stage, and you’re turning the script over to the team responsible for staffing the show.
Whether your company’s presence is a booth in a sea of 10’ x 10’s, an anchor exhibitor, or something in between, here are 10 last-minute pre-HIMSS marketing steps to leverage your all-important HIMSS investment.
#1 Hold a final ‘rehearsal,’ a staff huddle, to ensure everyone is on the same page relative to the 10-second elevator pitch of what your company does and why it matters to the guest. Why should your guests care? You’ll note that we call visitors to our space guests – because we’re here for them and that’s how to make an experience memorable.
While you want your booth message to be consistent, you also want to be sure the staffing team is comfortable personalizing the booth message based on personalized ABM targeting and engagement strategies.
#2 Ensure everyone clearly understands and buys into what criteria constitute a contact, a qualified lead, or an opportunity. And no, as much as we might wish it so, a scanned badge from someone who walked by and grabbed a pen is a contact, not a lead.
#3 Have you designated someone responsible each evening for documenting and prioritizing staff conversations? If there has been a request for information or assets, there’s nothing like ensuring it gets into the requestor’s in-basket the same night!
#4 Begin daily social posts on your company page. Utilize staff to repost on their pages with the goal of a minimum of two social posts per team member leading into the show.
#5 Set up your upcoming on-site social cadence – stay in the spotlight during the event. Engage in on-site social conversations, post candid shots, share booth highlights, and perhaps most importantly, share knowledge!
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to communicate or reinforce with your team your event marketing follow-up plan. Everyone must understand that their staffing duties continue after the exhibit closes. Follow-up is equally essential to the success of your event as pre-show and at-show responsibilities.
It seems intuitive that follow-up is important, but consider that energy gets zapped after four or more days of event activities, and everyone is moving on to the next priority. This includes not just your staff but your audience as well. ‘Read the room’ when it comes to event follow-up. Too much too soon can be as much of a turn-off as too little too late.
Does everyone on your team understand their role in follow-up? Sales, marketing, product owners, etc. What constitutes low, medium, and high-priority follow-up? How does the call to action differ depending on ABM targets?
#6 Study the attendee list (if you have it) and use it as a last push to personalize your ABM reach outs to book an on-site meeting. If you don’t have an attendee list, use your database to reach out with a ‘whether or not you’re attending HIMSS’ message. It’s not too late to task your sales team with reaching out to the top 10 accounts they’d like to meet with at the show.
#7 Hire a car/van service and offer your most valued clients transportation service to/from the event. You can also use it to transport your staffing team. A disadvantage of HIMSS in Chicago is the shortage of hotels within walking distance of McCormick. Bus rides can take close to an hour or more pending traffic. Better yet, have a magnetic car sign with your company name/logo made up to put on the side of the car/van. You now have an inexpensive rolling billboard.
#8 Start a ‘countdown to HIMSS’ on your HIMSS microsite or landing page. If you don’t currently have a microsite or landing page, setting one up isn’t too late. Directing attendees to your event-specific page is an excellent call to action.
#9 Review the HIMSS Sponsorship opportunities for still open and easily/quickly executable sponsorships. Contact your HIMSS salesperson – depending on the sponsorship, there may be an opportunity for rate negotiation. (Hint: Don’t sponsor ‘consumable’ events where no one cares or remembers who sponsored, e.g., receptions and meals. The exception is if it’s an event a high percentage of your target audience might attend, and you can leverage the event as a relationship-building activity.)
#10 Use the opportunity to reach out and schedule conversations with people not attending the show. Play off on the ‘Staycation’ theme. Offer the same giveaway or drawing opportunity you may have planned for HIMSS to those who book a high-value meeting with you. This leads to your bonus tip in keeping with targeting those not going to HIMSS.
Your Bonus Tip…in parallel with all your in-person engagements, offer a similar experience for those who are not attending the show. Provide the benefits of HIMSS without the hassle of going there. Chicago is known for its iconic food products, so depending on the opportunity and your budget, you might consider offering a ‘taste of Chicago’ through Lou Malnati’s famous Chicago-style pizza, Wildfire steaks or desserts, Garrett Popcorn, or other well-known Chicago experiences where the products are available for shipping. This could be part of a drawing/raffle; anyone who books and attends a meeting during the HIMSS timeframe would be entered to win. This expands your engagement scope beyond the on-site HIMSS attendee and gives you the opportunity to nurture the HIMSS message well beyond the event.
Whether your team is two or two hundred, you and your team have invested time, effort, and financial resources into this event. Take this last week to make that final push of preparation so that when the curtain comes up and the lights come on at HIMSS, you know you’ve set the stage for a great experience!