Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No Goodie Bags? No Problem! Why Virtual Trade Shows are PhRMA-friendly

The article in Tradeshow Week Magazine titled "What’s Next for Health Care Show Exhibiting?" prompted this post.

The new code from PhRMA (The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) for marketing by the pharmaceutical industry is expected to result in readjustments to their trade show tactics. The goal of these changes and some more upcoming changes that are on the anvil is to ensure that the information reaching medical practitioners is from independent sources. While I would not be surprised if Google Health positions itself for a dominant role in this new scenario, one can be sure that virtual trade shows will be considered very seriously by health care marketing professionals.

On the one hand, virtual trade shows allow for compliance by the health care marketing professional (and for independent 3rd-party audit). On the other, they track activity and reports in such depth that establishing an ROI is just a click away.

There are some closed-corporate virtual trade shows that we at do in which the event organizer's policies mandate that exhibitors do not offer any giveaways or lucky draws. With a virtual trade show, not only is it easy to comply with these requirements, but also very easy for governance and reporting, while ensuring the effectiveness of the content placed in every virtual booth.

Goodie Bags and Lucky Draws are capabilities that are offered in virtual booths in many virtual trade shows. A virtual trade show producer ought to enjoy the ability to switch off select features to stay within the rules of the game for their particular industry. When a pharma company's virtual booth is in a general virtual trade show, such as one held by a Chamber of Commerce for a particular region, that specific booth must be capable of turning off its non-PhRMA-compliant features without impacting the other booths in the virtual trade show.

When we work with any event organizer these are capabilities that we like to highlight. Through simple procedures in our event engine we can entirely disable (show-wide) the Goodies feature or the Lucky Draw feature, or both. The reporting system enables the event organizer to assess the success of an event while staying within the customized parameters of the virtual fair. If for some reason the features are made available in a virtual fair, individual exhibitors have the power to decline using select features should they need to be in compliance with industry-specific laws.

That is why I believe that virtual fairs are PhRMA-friendly!