This week I participated in EXL’s Digital Marketing for Medical Devices in San Diego. This was the second year for the event and overall I had a great experience and wanted to make a few posts explaining.
Prior to working for Olympus, I spent nearly 10 years in association management working with pharmaceutical marketers. One key aspect was conducting programs, events, and conferences. Given that, I have a great appreciation for what it takes to hold a successful event.
One of the keys is very hard to control, the attendees. I’d guestimate there were between 100 and 125 people in attendance on the two main days of the conference (I did not attend the pre-session on Monday, but heard very good things about it).
The attendees at this event were very open and approachable. I didn’t get the sense that there were any cliques of previously connected people being unapproachable, and I didn’t see people standing alone in isolation trying to find a place to fit in, everyone was very open and engaging.
While I didn’t meet everyone at the event, I felt like I met a good number of them.
The audience was a mix of those from medical device companies (majority of attendees, probably around 70%) as well as service providers, some of whom were also exhibiting. One exhibiting company I’ve done business with and another I’ve had meetings and demoed their product.
When I arrived for registration and breakfast on Day 1, I quickly found myself engaged in conversation and immediately got a good feel for the people. My first conversation was with colleagues from Becton Dickinson and NuBlue over bagels and coffee. We got to talking about the agenda, the challenges of the enterprise, and a little Drupal as NuBlue was using it as well. The hour flew by and we were ready for the opening session.
I’ll address content in follow-up posts, but I will say that a few people were live tweeting throughout using #digdevices. From past experience, I know I do a better job taking notes (I use Evernote) and blogging post-event, as I typically miss key points when I live tweet.
I did keep the twitter stream open on my tablet and followed people who were live tweeting so I could immediately connect with them. @drumbeat, @Cita_Walsh, @jimmyw8 all kept active and each also presented during the conference, so good people in my book to connect with.
At lunch I met several people including one whose company appeared to be well-suited to be considered for an upcoming project, so we plan to have a deeper discovery call next week with some additional team members.
At the end of day 1 there was a networking reception. Again, I had an opportunity to meet with more people, including a few of the speakers who had made comments I was interesting in learning more about. One of those was from Medtronic and another from MAQUET. Both gentlemen were very open and engaging in their conversations and not guarded in any way, I felt I got their genuine opinions and insights, as they got mine.
Following the reception, I didn’t connect with anyone from the conference, but headed to the Field for some Irish Pub food. I enjoyed Shephard’s Pie, cheese chips and a Guiness, and as it turned out, the person next to me was from suburban Philadelphia and attending another conference on the affordable care act, so more good conversation to go with good food in a great atmosphere.
On day two, things picked up where they left off. When I arrived for registration, I already felt like I had a good familiarity with several people I had spoken to the day before. At the first break I took a moment to introduce myself to Simon Curtis the senior program director for the event. I had spoken on the phone with Simon several times, but we hadn’t met before.
We had a good conversation about the event and planned to meet prior to the start of my case study during lunch.
Post lunch, final day, a few people left early, but the audience was still a good size. The final two sessions were case studies, one by me followed by one by James Walker from Becton Dickinson.
At the close I had a chance to speak with a few people who had questions or follow-up from my presentation, and when getting my bag I ran into James and Bill Drummy and enjoyed a brief conversation with them.
Around the conference I was also able to connect with more than a half-dozen fellow attendees via LinkedIn.
The people at this event were great and while some conferences can feel over-whelming, I liked the size of this group. It could probably grow to up to 200 to 250, but more than that would probably change the level of intimacy. At this event people were very engaged during sessions, able to ask questions throughout, and there weren’t too many people wanting to ask a question who couldn’t due to time limitations.
Audience size and engagement both very good.
The next post or two will feature the content.