Experiencing WVC through multiple lenses
Insights from the recent Western Veterinary Conference (WVC)
When the Pathfinders, our team of marketing professionals at R+K who help clients achieve their brand visions, attend industry conferences and trade shows, such as the recent Western Veterinary Conference (WVC), we approach the show through multiple lenses. These lenses deepen our understanding of the market and the mindsets of our clients’ customers. Following are some of the lenses we used at WVC.
Journalist. Through the journalist lens, we ask questions and are curious about everything. We try to see what’s new, who’s new in the industry and what are the trending topics in the sessions and aisle-way conversations.
Customer. We use the customer lens because, at R+K, we hold to the mantra Think Customer First.
When using this lens, we try to see, hear and experience the conference as if we are the customer. In the case of WVC, we wore our veterinarian, vet tech and practice manager lenses. Admittedly, mine were a little foggy, as I had missed the last two years. But in the course of the day, my veterinary lenses cleared up. And I was eagerly learning about prescription fulfillment services from Vet Source, the role of hydrolyzed soy in a Royal Canin formulation, and the diagnosis and treatment options for chronic pain and itch in cats.
Ethnographer. The ethnographer in us comes to the conference, too. We observe how the attendees and exhibitors interact at the trade show. We listen and watch practice managers engage during sessions on improving staff communications and enhancing their website through customer empathy.
This is most often the lens that our Brand Strategist wears at shows and conferences. She pays attention to how exhibitors engage with veterinarians, noting their body language and facial reactions, as well as how they move through each booth and the duration of the visit. It gives her a sense of how veterinary customers respond to various stimuli – both messaging and human.
The ethnography lens is another dimension of our Think Customer First mantra, to ensure that we have a broad and deep understanding of the customers of our clients. and prospective clients.
Prospector. Speaking of prospective clients, the R+K business development lens is ever-present. Shows and conferences are an ideal opportunity to reconnect with former clients, prospects and friends and to make new ones along the way. It’s a challenge at times to curb our enthusiasm when in a conversation. We could go on asking questions to learn about their brands, business and show experience. Yet, we always want to be respectful of the fact that exhibitors are there to connect with their customers and prospects, not with agency folks. So, we are quick to excuse ourselves when others approach with questions.
Marketer. As marketers, we cannot sit through a presentation without art directing slides or admiring a presentation style. We cannot walk through a trade show without noting trends in booth designs and activities. And we take lots of pictures on our smartphones for show and tell of our observations back at the office.
One of the stand-outs for me this year was what I would call the speed-detailing I experienced in the Royal Canin booth. Like most booths, there were several stations where veterinarians and technical staff were analyzing products and the science behind them. The cool thing of the experience: Speed detailing, where each of these mini presentations were no more than two minutes, if even that. They were on-point and informative, yet inviting. This is a technique I plan to share with our clients.
As for our clients and prospects, when we attend conferences and trade shows, our minds and bodies are in a constant conflict of energy and exhaustion. This year, as we experienced WVC through the multiple lenses of journalist, ethnographer, customer, prospector and marketer, we also went home with aching feet, shin splints and a need for deep slumber. However, we left the show almost too excited to rest, as we are even more excited about where the veterinary and pet industry is headed and how our team of Pathfinders can help brands Think Customer First.
Rhea + Kaiser President/CEO Diane Martin welcomes the opportunity to talk about branding, website development or breaking through the clutter at trade shows.