In our third interview with a trailblazing exhibition expert, we gain a fresh perspective on the current expo climate and which strategies are king when it comes to improving lead capture.
Who is Tim Schmidt-Lange?
As head of conference and event management at Merz Aesthetics, Tim Schmidt-Lange spearheads the corporation’s exhibiting efforts.
Upholding the company’s sterling reputation, which has been cultivated over 110 years, is paramount.
Merz Aesthetics is one of the leading providers in the field of aesthetic medicine, partnering with health care professionals such as dermatologists, plastic surgeons and aesthetic physicians to deliver positive, life-changing results for patients.
As a family-owned pharmaceutical company, connecting to people on a personal level is at the heart of every client interaction. Which is why attending trade shows is essential.
Through exhibiting, Tim Schmidt-Lange can capitalise on face-to-face marketing opportunities to build the company’s brand awareness and increase lead capture.
It’s also a dynamite occasion to meet new and existing audiences, develop a better understanding of their needs and gain pivotal insights for progress.
To maximise the return of every exhibition and strengthen attendee engagement, Merz Aesthetics enlists the support of Expo Stars.
In our interview with Tim Schmidt-Lange, we learn exactly how Expo Stars has helped improve the company’s trade show performance. We also reveal Tim’s best advice when it comes to nailing an exhibition campaign from skills he has fine-tuned since 2005.
Making a Mark in the Exhibition Landscape
How important is face-to-face marketing to your business?
Tim Schmidt-Lange: Exhibits and educational activities during trade shows represent one of our most powerful marketing channels.
Face-to-face marketing is almost as influential as our local sales force (representatives visits and partnering with our customers in their own clinics etc).
It put us directly in front of our customers helping us connect with people on a highly-personal level so we can shape our future marketing around what our prospects truly want and need.
How many trade shows do you exhibit at per year and where?
Tim: We attend fifty or more worldwide exhibitions per year for maximum exposure.
I am personally responsible for our international trade shows in the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa). The shows I manage three or four times a year are:
- IMCAS Paris
- AMWC Monaco
- World Congress of Dermatology (in various cities globally)
- Merz’ own corporate congress, Change Cities in Europe
One of the most important parts of a strategy is planning where to exhibit. Not all trade shows are right for the business and there are hundreds to choose from every year.
We do our homework to ensure we’re demonstrating and presenting to the right people so our lead generation objectives are met.
How have Expo Stars supported you and what value do they bring to your business?
Tim: With Expo Stars partially staffing our booths we make sure no potential visitor is left alone even if our core team (Merz representatives) are unavailable.
They are phenomenal lead generators. At times our core staff can be reluctant to approach strangers; their strengths lie in pharmaceutical expertise.
Expo Stars professionals will effortlessly break the ice, engage with visitors to enter our booth, qualify leads and entice them to join in fun activities.
The hosts are very outgoing with exceptional communication skills. They mirror our brand voice perfectly. And unlike many similar professionals, they can be trained on basic product features and marketing messages to truly support the Merz’ team.
What changes have you seen in the exhibition industry in the last five years?
Tim: It used to be all about freebies. The focus has switched to high-quality conversations: a much more effective strategy to generate leads.
In a good way, attendees have become more demanding too. They want you to offer practical solutions to their problems there and then. It gives businesses who have prepared properly the opportunity to consolidate their authority and gain attendees’ trust.
Also, to maintain brand consistency and build awareness effectively, booth designs and signage must reflect and bolster the company image. Stands are becoming more and more sophisticated to achieved this.
How have you modified your exhibition strategy over the years?
Tim: We have reduced the amount of messages we convey during exhibits. With fewer topics, our products have become more defined. This gives us greater focus and a more powerful message to work with.
Plus, by hiring Expo Stars staff to warm up leads and capture information, our company staff have more time to focus on pitching and demonstrating our products.
Do you have any funny trade show stories or mistakes you’ve witnessed from other exhibitors?
Tim: At this one event, we had a catering team hand out frozen yoghurt from a machine at our stand. After they left, we helped ourselves to one last cone of ice cream,
Upon returning the next morning, we found an enormous puddle on the floor. We hadn’t closed the ice cream freezer properly. Twenty litres of melted frozen yoghurt had created a very sticky mess.
We spent quite a while mopping up the remains of our late-night ice cream party… The catering crew wasn’t impressed, as you can imagine!
What would be your three pieces of advice for businesses looking to improve their trade show marketing?
Tim: Number one – less is more. If your budget is limited, stop attending the minor-league trade shows. Instead, focus on the ones where you can have a significant presence and impact.
Second, define the very few key messages you want to convey. Practice these messages with your booth team every morning to drive value efficiently and consistently.
Finally, ask someone from the outside to visit your stand incognito. Their insights will be invaluable for progress – when we did this, I was shocked at how many obvious details I’d missed.
Hungry for More Game-Changing Expo Insights?
Moreover, you can benefit from the same support Merz Aesthetics received to help the company maximise its expo investment. To learn more, call us for a friendly chat on 0161 834 9478.