Monday, November 5, 2007

To launch this blog and serve as its initial host, we've recruited IAEE’s Chairman-Elect:
Randy Bauler, CEM
Corporate Relations & Exhibits Director
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

The subject of key exhibitors and market leaders and how to preserve and advance the organizer’s relationships with them can be divided into three very broad chapters of discussion:

• The Preventive Process – The proper care and feeding of key exhibitors
• Responding effectively to requests/demands of Key Exhibitors
• How organizers can cope with the loss of key exhibitors

A logical place to launch discussion is the Preventative Process – and the key question is --- what can organizers do to ensure that you are addressing the needs of your key exhibitors and market leaders?

The best way to prevent losing key exhibitors and market leaders is to foster regular, open and honest communications. For most companies and organizations, that means establishing and maintaining strong communication channels with several key levels of the exhibitor's organization.

As an example, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) attempts to foster regular, open communications with as many as four key areas or levels with each key exhibitor and corporate sponsor/supporter:

1. Advertising - regular communications with either the corporate marketing department or its designated advertising agency. Keep them alerted to advertising opportunities (both print and electronic) and insights on the best ways to reach their target audience (in this case, critical care nurses) using a variety of journals, publications and Web site options.

2. Education - contact those responsible for developing educational content and information for nurses. Help them understand how they can share their product information, applications and procedures in an acceptable manner without introducing bias or commercial influence.

3. Exhibits and Sponsorships - inform the Marketing Communications (or sales and marketing) department of exhibition opportunities and how to increase their reach and visbility through sponsorships at the annual conference and exposition. Contacts include exhibit and event managers up to Senior VPs and CEOs who make exhibit and sponsorship decisions.

4. Senior Management - It's critical you identify key decison-makers and/or senior managers responsible for maintaining and growing the relationship. Generally these are senior VPs and CEOs, who can address any level of concern before they become major problems. Those who demonstrate a sincere desire to advance the nursing profession are invited to become "Thought Partners" with our association.

Your communications and relationship with key exhibitors and market leaders will flourish if you can coordinate all levels of communications so there's a consistent, unified message with the intent to serve both the exhibitor and the audience they want to reach.

Does this approach to preventing the loss of key exhibitors and market leaders make sense? What do you think?