Darren Behuniak, the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Devon International Group, met with me to discuss our companies’ trade show appearances so far in 2012, and explain what we’ve achieved and what trends we’ve seen at these annual events.

Devon Medical Products' booth at the American Diabetes Association's 72nd Scientific Sessions conference in Philadelphia.

DIG Staff: What trade shows did the Devon International Group’s companies attend this year?

DB: Devon Medical Products attended the 25th Symposium on Advanced Wound Care (SAWC) in Atlanta, Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas, the European Wound Management Association conference (EWMA) in Vienna, Austria, the 44th Annual Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society™ (WOCN) Conference , and the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) 72nd Annual Scientific Sessions conference. This was an important spring trade show season for Devon Medical Products as we showcased our latest medical device line dedicated to wound care and prevention.

While our lymphedema pumps and arterial pump were on display, our extriCARE™ Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) system took center stage. Most of the shows we attended were anchored in wound care, which gave us the opportunity to discuss best practices in wound therapy with the top physicians, nurses, and wound care professionals in the country. Our trip to the EWMA meeting in Vienna also allowed us to meet with various international distributors who were anxious to see our product line.

Devon IT attended the Citrix Synergy show in May, as we do every year. Our main focus was meeting with IT professionals about our software offerings. While our business in this space has been hardware-focused in years past, we’ve hired a number of developers to help enhance our software that can help ease the transition from bulky desktop PCs to virtual desktops. On display at Citrix Synergy were our Devon IT Echo™ Thin Client Management Software that allows IT administrators to easily manage hundred or thousands of desktops from one location, as well as our VDI Blaster™ software that easily repurposes PCs as thin clients for around $20 per seat.

Devon Health attended the American Association of Preferred Provider Organization’s (AAPPO) Annual Forum in January – another of DIG’s annual events. Devon Health president Brian D. Atkinson is an AAPPO Board Member and was in attendance with other Devon Health executives. We saw some familiar faces and some new ones as well, and were able to meet with a number of healthcare executives from TPAs, self-insured entities, and insurance companies to discuss how we can work together to lower healthcare costs.

DIG: What’s the most important part about trade shows? Why do we attend so many?

DB: One key element of trade shows is that we’re able to talk to a significant portion of the industry  in one place. It’s so easy to connect with a large number of people at once when they’re in the same town for a few days. Granted, we’ve seen a decline in trade show attendance due to economic conditions, but some of the annual events still attract the top industry thought leaders and vendors. While we use other tools like webinars, Skype, and  Linked In to stay in touch with prospects and partners, we still feel that nothing beats face-to-face interaction.

DIG: With so many expensive events to choose from, what guidelines do you use when selecting an effective trade show?

DB: Trade show selection is all about the audience.  For Devon Medical Products, we utilize trade shows to inform people about our products and increase brand awareness, but we also use them to receive feedback from the people who use our devices in the field.  They are the people who can offer us the most important information and the most prudent advice.  The same goes for Devon IT’s software – listening to the attendees is very valuable, as we are able to make our products more effective for our customers.

The importance of sales, however, should never be overlooked. We try to obtain as many solid leads as possible. It’s great to offer coffee and popcorn to get people flocking to your booth – if you can speak with some decision-makers and not just people that need their two o’clock pick-me-up.

DIG: What have you learned from attending trade shows?

DB: Immediate follow-up is key to building relationships.  Breaking through the clutter is hard, however, as attendees are bombarded with emails and calls in the two weeks following an event.  I like to send personalized thank you cards or make personal “thank you for stopping by” calls.  It’s nice to get a phone call without a sales pitch attached right off the bat.

DIG: Do you have any funny stories you can share?

DB: The funniest stories come from how companies try to get people into their booths.  At one trade show, a company had a mermaid who sat next to a hot tub for eight hours while dancing and blowing bubbles.  Their whole booth had a pirate theme.  Somehow it always comes back to pirates…

Another company had a rabbit who could choose cards out of a deck.  Then there are companies who let visitors play basketball, mini golf, and darts on the show floor.

Sometimes the visitors are the funny ones. We’ve even seen a few people come into our booth a little disheveled after a late night in Las Vegas.

DIG companies will be attending more trade shows starting in late August. In the meantime, we’re curious: what’s your best trade show story?


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