When I started my career in the pharmaceutical industry too many years ago, tradeshows were a necessary part of the process and frankly – I dreaded attending them. The days were long and drawn out and I never felt a very strong return on investment from all the time and expense they required. This is primarily why Whitehouse Laboratories did not regularly attend these types of events. However, in 2014, I conceded and let our management team schedule a few tradeshows as a means to visit with existing clients and industry partners as well as meet potential new clients. I must say the tradeshow world has improved over the last few years. The largest and most well-known show we have recently participated in was Interphex held in New York City last April. Having worked the floor for a few days, I was able to see many long time clients and spend quality time with some of our key vendors, suppliers and partners. In this article I will share with you my three key observations as to why Interphex is a must attend event and I hope, with my encouragement, I will have the chance to see you at the New York Show April 26th through the 28th.
Observations Number One: It was downright fun to see what our clients actually looked like! Over the years I have developed a number of phone-based friendships with clients from across the country (and in some cases the world) that I have never met in person. As Whitehouse Laboratories has my picture posted on the website, clients know what I look like. At Interphex 2014 I met several different phone friends in person for the first time. In all cases, the client looked much better than I imagined. These in person meetings only strengthened the already friendly relationship we had mutually built over the years.
Observation Number Two: The overall crowd attending the exhibit hall was friendly and accommodating. A number of existing and potential new clients actually sought out Whitehouse Labs and took the time to visit our exhibit. Going back to my old time pharma tradeshow days, this was not always the case. In pointing this out to a few attendees, many were quick to state that the educational value of these shows has seen much improvement over the years. In many cases, people were attending to hear a specific speaker or learn about a specific new technology. Overall, my assessment is that the educational component is now put at the forefront and the exhibition hall has taken a back seat. As a result, the attendance has grown (they expect 12,000 industry professionals for this year’s show) and attendees are walking away with new and improved knowledge.
Observation Number Three: While the true education is gained in the actual speaking events, do not short change what can be learned with a stroll through the exhibit hall. For me personally, I was able to spend valuable time with some of our key partners like Lighthouse Technology, Package Technology Incorporated and Genesis Packaging. I was able to see first-hand some of the new instruments they are developing and had the chance to meet other team members who I do not normally interact with. In addition, I was able to make connections for potential new partners to work with and learn about other companies out there that serve common industries. On the vendor side, I actually came across a new supplier for stability chambers and a new instrument for oxygen permeation testing. By the end of 2014, as part of our capital reinvestment plan, we made significant purchases from both vendors.
Coming full circle, my personal view of the value of trade shows, like my age, has grown. Whitehouse Laboratories left Interphex with three key takeaways:
- We solidifies existing client relationships
- We met 237 potential new clients – many of them now actual clients
- We learned a lot about what is new and out there in the industry
I hope my words of encouragement are enough to inspire to take part and visit NYC for a few days in April.