3 Ways to Bolster Healthcare Thought Leadership Leading Up to an Event

By: Ben Olson, Vice President & Jen Borucki, HMCC, Marketing Communications Specialist
mg’s magnify™ engagement services agency

According to the Center for Exhibition Research (CEIR), the primary reason most exhibitors leverage trade shows and events is to build awareness for their brands. But a common adjunct we’ve seen over the years, particularly in the healthcare industry, is the need for companies to define themselves as thought leaders amongst their peers.

It makes sense. Thought leadership adds credibility to your brands and gives a distinct competitive edge to your offerings. In an age where healthcare practitioners live and die by patient satisfaction scores, why wouldn’t you pick the drug or medical device that is backed by most trusted and innovative minds in the business?

Aspiring towards thought leadership is easy. Accomplishing it can be another matter, particularly if you are a smaller business, new market entrant or even a more established organization whose products have become so engrained in the marketplace that they have lost their sizzle.

How can you ignite or revive that spark that establishes your thought leadership in a crowded marketplace, particularly in the time leading up to your next congress or event?

1. Don’t wait for the show to begin communicating with your audience. CEIR tells us that 76% of trade show attendees use pre-show communication to plan out their agenda, yet a small percentage of exhibitors actively invest in integrated marketing campaigns to draw traffic before the event opens.

Getting on their agenda is reason enough to include such campaigns in your promotional mix. However, the positioning opportunities add considerable cost-benefit advantages to the investment you make. On the show floor, your guest will be bombarded by competing messages that tout various companies as the go-to resource to solve Diagnosis X. Pre-show campaigns help you alleviate the clutter – particularly since statistics prove out the fact that so few of your competitors will be establishing that communication early in the cycle.

2. Leverage synergies between pre-show media available to you. Integrated marketing isn’t the place to put all your eggs in one basket. Basic advertising theory reminds us that frequency of exposure to a message not only aids in retention; it also lends credibility to the source. This is the time to spread the word across a number of vehicles: trade publications, literature drops, dimensional direct mail, a dedicated destination page on your corporate website and even internal resources like email signatures and the hold messaging on your company phone system.

And don’t overlook the role of targeted messages in enhancing perceptions with each target audience. This doesn’t mean simply plugging a “Dear John” salutation into your template. Targeted marketing speaks to the distinct needs of your target customer. If your audience is mixed, look to ways you can speak directly to the needs of each segment. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, hospital supply chain staff, c-suite execs – each has a unique motivator and a preferred communication style. Successful targeting speaks to those needs.

3. Don’t rely on email alone. Email is often a popular choice with companies because of its low cost and easy implementation. However, use of email should be strategic and not at the exclusion of other promotional choices. As the physicians’ roundtable at HCEAConnect 2016 reminded us, doctors are not necessarily big proponents of email. Because of their workload and the number of emails they receive, they often delegate clearing out the inbox to a nurse or other team member. So the wonderful message you have carefully crafted may find its way into the recycle bin before your physician audience even sees it.

This does not mean you should never send an email. Just make sure you are supporting your messaging across a variety of vehicles to ensure your story gets out.

Inspiring thought leadership for your organization is an important part of what you do as a healthcare marketer and exhibit planner. We hope these tips help you as you prepare for your next event.

Editor’s Note: Next month, the magnify™ team from mg will continue to provide helpful insight that you can use to bolster your thought leadership at your event – and beyond!


Ben Olson is an active member of the leadership team for mg (, a global full service experiential marketing partner with complete turnkey design, fabrication, marketing, service and labor offerings. As Vice President, Ben created and leads magnify™, mg’s internal engagement services agency. Driving great experiences through a unique blend of creativity, inspira­tion and strategic vision is Ben’s forte. His team focuses on creating the ideal guest experience for exhibits, events and branded corporate environments through integrated marketing programs, one-of-a-kind digital solutions and customized metrics that help optimize your face-to-face marketing investment.

Supporting Ben’s team as Marketing Communications Specialist is Jen Borucki, HMCC. She regularly puts her BS and MS in Marketing to work through the exhaustive industry research she provides to her team and clients. In addition to answering your RFI/RFP questions, Jen also serves as chief copywriter for magnify™. Jen is an active contributor to the HCEA Marketing and Promotions Committee.