Elevate Your Event-Marketing Program

5 things to do in the next six months A talk with Carol Krugman
Sep 01, 2007

"EVENTS PLAY A CRITICAL ROLE in the marketing cycle, but they do not operate in a vacuum," says Carol Krugman. "Anytime you have a face-to-face meeting with your customer—with the person you want to educate or influence, the person whose behavior you may want to change positively, the person you want to affect intellectually or emotionally—that's an event. Meetings are an event. An exhibit is an event."

Krugman should know. She's been organizing international meetings for 25 years during her career as a public relations and marketing manager in the international division of Merck Sharp & Dohme, executive director of an international medical society, and president of her own independent meeting-management company. Just over a year ago, she joined the senior staff of George P. Johnson Company (GPJ), an experience marketing agency, as director of client services.

Last month, Pharmaceutical Executive's medical education meetings spoke with Krugman. We wanted some tips on how, in these shape-shifting and highly regulated times, a pharmaceutical company can produce meetings that are compliant and create value at the same time. Krugman, who was named one of the 25 most influential people in the meeting industry in 2004, is knowledgeable, generous, and lots of fun to talk to. She outlined five steps a company should take immediately to get the most out of its events:

1. Integrate

Events are but one element in the marketing arsenal. Product launches, trade shows, and meetings should be planned and activated to take full advantage of the other marketing channels at work. An individual or a group should be designated to ensure the various messages and the experience design of the event program are consistently integrated with every touch point in order to maximize timing and effect of all marketing activities.

This is especially important given that pharmaceutical marketing has traditionally been siloed, product based, and/or therapeutic-class based. It has lacked not only integration but also a consistency of messaging throughout the company and throughout all of the touch points.

2. Strategize

Planning for the live experience—whether it's a meeting, a product launch, or an exhibit— is most effective when the influencer groups in and out of the marketing discipline help to shape the big picture. To get started, bring in sales, product development, medical, regulatory, and any other groups that are going to be involved or have a viewpoint that would be useful. Get them involved early in the process. Agreement—on everything from what a sales lead looks like to where education needs to fall in the marketing cycle—will enhance the marketing effort and create new ideas and opportunities to put to work.

Professional meeting managers and/or exhibit managers know what's going to work—and what's not going to work. They're also trained in principles of adult education. Those who work within the context of experiential marketing know how to apply all these principles to communicate a client's critical messages most effectively. Take advantage of their expertise.

3. Eliminate Waste, Ensure Compliance

As with building a house, it's best to choose a limited number of highly skilled experts and bring them together to collaborate as a partnership. Take care to select service providers who are specialists with a proven history of success and who can commit to building something together. A smaller and more controlled event-service supply chain will lower the risk of compliance infractions. You want a team that can work smarter, faster, and more cost-effectively within today's regulatory environment.

I'm not talking about just the in-house team, which includes the meeting and event manager, but also about very carefully selected service providers. In the past there were hundreds. Everyone had a service provider. Every therapeutic group had one. Every product had its three or four agencies it absolutely had to work with. If you pick the right people, you don't need that many. It's not the quantity, it's the quality.

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