How a Creative Agency Stands Out at a Trade Show

Last year, we participated in the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) trade show at McCormick Place in Chicago. This is a huge trade show, attracting nearly 40,000 people every year. In fact, it filled two floors in the gigantic McCormick Place, and if you’ve ever been, you know that filling up the space is quite a feat.

Why would we want to attend a show organized by an association whose mission it is to “optimize health engagements and care outcomes through information technology”?

Simple: Around 25% of our client base is in the medical sector.

Over the past year, we have partnered with a lot of electronic medical record (EMR) companies to help doctors’ offices and medical practices create branding, messaging, and an overall web presence that will differentiate them from the competition. Because a lot of EMRs attend the HIMSS show, it only made sense that we attend, too.

Here’s what we did to stand out…

Planning, planning, and more planning

If you want to make an impact at a tradeshow, you have to start your planning very early – and we did. We put a lot of creative effort into our promotional items, sales and print collateral, fixtures, and booth display so they would stand out. The more time we spent refining these pieces, the more accurately they would reflect our brand and engage our audience.

Hand out promotional items that have staying power

We chose to hand out promotional items that would go into people’s briefcases and get used, not get hidden away in drawers (or worse – thrown out). The items included lip balm, pens, lint rollers, and sticky notes.

Last week, a friend of mine posted a picture on my Facebook page of one of the items we handed out during the show. He wasn’t even at the show, but the item somehow made its way to him all of these months later. I have to admit, I was floored – and it shows that our strategy worked!

Create a clear, visual elevator pitch

One of my mottos is “Go big or go home.” We knew we’d be competing for attention during HIMSS, which meant we had to maximize the branding and impact of our booth. We designed that space so it acted as a visual elevator pitch. It looked just as if you were standing in front of our studio, and it incorporated our top-line messaging.

As people walked by and looked at our stuff, they said, “Oh you do marketing, you do print, you do branding!” Our clear, visual message made an immediate impression.


One of our leads after the trade show asked us to create an entire campaign around bringing a scanning solution product to market. Overall, through the leads we encountered, we earned a six-fold return on investment, proving that our strategy works.

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