I love exhibit halls. My inner marketer always gets a thrill looking at the latest booth designs and watching how companies attract visitors. Even though I attend 40 conference each year, I’m constantly amazed at all the creative ideas that are on display.
The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Annual Conference is one of my favorite exhibit halls to explore. It’s small enough that I don’t have to rush from booth to booth, yet big enough to attract a wide variety of exhibitors.
At this year’s annual conference (MGMA19AC), recently held in New Orleans, there were several exhibitors that stood out.
Anyone remember playing with Lite-Brite while they were growing up? I never had one but my friend down the street did and it was always the toy I wanted to play with when I visited. United Healthcare attracted attendees to their booth by appealing to the inner child in all of us with a mega-sized light-wall in the center of their booth.
Vistors could walk up, grab any number of colored pegs and put them into the wall. You could make emojis, stick figures or even little houses. It was a simple, fun, and zen-like thing to do.
The marketing benefit was obvious – while a visitor was standing at the light wall, a United Healthcare representative would engage them in conversation, ask them questions and give them a gentle elevator pitch.
United Healthcare also stood out for another reason. Instead of giving away tchochkies (pens, mugs, etc), they chose instead to donate $3,000 to DePaul Community Health Centers (formerly Daughters of Charity Health Centeres), an organization local to New Orleans.
Another exhibitor that used nostalgia to draw people into their booth was CareCredit, a company that provides financing options for treatments and procedures not typically covered by insurance or for the times when insurance does not cover the full amount. They used a classic carnival game to appeal to attendees.
You’ve likely seen this game at your local amusement park or country fair. You roll a ball up an inclined panel and try to make it drop in the “run” holes vs the “walk” ones to make your horse/boat/car move across the lane faster. In this case, CareCredit replaced the horses with simple placards emblazoned with their logo.
Like United Healthcare’s light wall, this carnival game was eye-catching and drew people into the booth. Immediately before and after playing the game, a CareCredit representative would give a quick overview of the company and what they offered.
There were a lot of smiling and laughing people at the game. Everyone walked away with a prize.
Clinicspectrum has one of the most colorful logos in healthcare, so it didn’t come as huge surprise that they decided to add a little color to their booth…and by color I mean blush, lipstick and eyeshadow. Visitors to their booth could meet with an onsite beauty and makeup consultant who had a full studio in their space.
Every time I walked by, there was always someone sitting in the director’s chair getting tips and getting makeup applied by the expert. With all the photo booths and Instagram stations at other booths in the hall, having your makeup professionally applied was appealing to many attendees.
I thought it was a clever and unique way to bring people into their booth.
A high-quality giveaway is always going to be a draw. Conference attendees can tell the difference between a cheap throw-away item and one that will stand up to daily use (for a while at least). Kapitus, a company that provides capital and financing to businesses, had the highest quality giveaway at MGMA19AC – a well designed, high capacity water bottle.
Unlike normal bottles that you get at conferences, the one from Kapitus was hefty. It had a weighted base with a rubber bottom so that stood solidly upright. The exterior was textured so it was easy to grip and it had a wide mouth so it was easy to get liquids in and out.
There were many MGMA19AC attendees walking around with these bottles sticking out of their bags.
Patient communications platform provider, Well Health, effectively leveraged the heart in their company logo. They gave visitors to their booth a choice of coffee cups, each sporting a blue heart motif. The cups were well made (excuse the pun) and were well designed.
Another company that effectively leveraged their logo was DataFile Technologies. They took the yellow in their logo and accentuated it in their MGMA19AC booth by having an array of tasty yellow-colored sweets available. They had everything from chocolates in yellow candy shells to packages of yellow cotton candy.
This was the second year that DataFile had this yellow-candy buffet at their booth, so kudos to them for consistency.
A special mention needs to go out to SymphonyRM who had their Metrics Makers mini-figures (made of Lego pieces) at their booth. In a 15-minute span no fewer than 10 excited people came up to put together their own versions of the Metrics Movers. With this type of audience reaction, it’s not surprising they were a finalist for this year’s HITMC Awards in the Best Giveaway category.
I can’t wait for next year’s MGMA conference to see what interesting ideas companies will have on display.