Interactive technologies are a great way to retain attendees and keep them focused and engaged, but they aren't the only creative
tools to keep physicians in the booth. Disney-esque theater technologies have been adopted on the convention floor with great
success. Recent examples include a 3-D movie with smells and wind that took psychologists through a first-person schizophrenic
experience, a 3-D movie that took cardiologists through the first-person experiences of a stroke and heart attack, and a 3-D
theater with a panoramic screen and moving floor that swept rheumatologists through a rugged landscape to meet arthritic patients
successfully treated with the exhibitor's brand.
Ideally, these technologies should be portable so that they can be used at key conventions and in the field.
Interactive and theater technologies will retain physicians in your booth, but, ultimately, brand education is the end goal.
Remember that you have only about seven minutes to make an impression—succinct and creative message delivery is essential
on the convention floor. As a guideline, keep it to one message per brand. The best message takes what is intuitive about
your brand and what your physician knows about the relevant disease state and uniquely connects the two elements in a compelling
and unusual manner.
For example, another bio-interactive technology solution called Focus on the Mind was developed for an epilepsy therapy and
targeted to neurologists. In epilepsy treatment, a key part of a product's efficacy lies in its ability to calm the patient's
brainwaves. One exhibitor presented an interactive challenge in which two neurologists wore EEG sensors attached to their
foreheads and were seated at either end of a long table. In the middle of the table sat a silver ball controlled by EEG signals.
When the EEG sensors measured more relaxed brainwave activity in one neurologist, the ball rolled toward him. This naturally
produced an excited reaction in the targeted neurologist, resulting in quicker brainwave activity. In response, the ball moved
away from the "winner" toward the individual now deemed to be the calmer of the two. This mental tug-of-war became an exciting
educational activity that created immense buzz on the convention floor.
Do you wish to focus on the product or the disease state? Disease state messages work well in theater settings because of
the more scientific nature of the information and the reduced need for fair balance, while brand messages may come across
better in the interactive setting, where a more didactic approach to communication ensures clear message communication and
provides a better tool to deliver fair balance.
A hybrid solution that combines the personal engagement of interactive technology and the fun of a theater setting is an interactive
theater. Here, exhibitors can tap into the competitive nature of physicians and pose multiple-choice quizzes in a theater
setting, hosted by a moderator. At each seat in the theater is a touch-screen computer. The moderator poses a question that
is posted on a large screen in front of the theater and as physicians answer the questions, the summary data is presented
on the screen and reviewed by the moderator. This way, physicians can understand how their fellow physicians answered the
questions in aggregate without facing embarrassment that their individual answers were right or wrong, ultimately enhancing
participation and learning.
Obviously, in the post-PhRMA world, the universe of premiums has vastly shrunk, but rewarding or thanking attendees for visiting
the booth is an additional way to ensure a positive experience as well as remind them about your product. These items can
often also work as an incentive for attendees to remain in the booth and participate in the product detail and hands-on learning
Overall, technology is the one major element that has the ability to not only get attendees' attention, but to draw them in
and keep them there. Following these simple guidelines may be the difference in helping you deliver the impact and wow factor
that physicians will remember well after the show.
Stephen Mapes is vice president of creative services at Impact Unlimited. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org