Health Fairs & Trade Shows CAN be Productive! 5/5 (42)

I participate in a lot of online discussion groups and it is interesting to note how many practitioners are frustrated with the mediocre Return on Investment of the typical health fair and trade show! It doesn’t have to be this way! In order to have a GREAT show there are a few questions that need to be answered first:

1. Do you care what kind of patient you see?
I’ve found that many Acupuncturists prefer to see people that are already ‘Alternative Medicine’ acolytes. These people are ‘easy,’ they don’t require lengthy explanations, they don’t challenge your procedures, they are compliant with your recommendations, etc

If you answered YES:

Pick your events carefully and design your display/booth to ONLY attract this population (which is what 95% of practitioners do unknowingly). As a general rule, I don’t recommend Fairs & Tradeshows for this type of practitioner. The percentage of TCM acolytes is so small at these events that it won’t be worth your money.

If you answered NO:

So, you are open to helping all types of patients! Great! Now all we have to do is help you plan your booth/display and you’ll have tremendous success at Health Fairs & Trade shows! Soon, your biggest challenge will be figuring out how to see everyone!

Public Event Fundamentals

Basic Concepts:
1. People don’t care what you do, they only care about what you can DO for them!  In a recent study when people were asked: “If you’re in pain…what would you try?” 78% answered “Anything” or “Natural Alternatives!” Only 17% said “more pain meds” and just 6% said “Surgery!” Since Acupuncture is AMAZING at helping with pain…the 78% just need us to communicate with them in a way that they can understand and accept!

2. Alternative HealthCare is not a religion! You do not need to “convert” people in order for them to come see you! Unfortunately, many practitioners are Zealots and literally preach against Western Medicine. This attitude of “us-versus-them” is allowing the medical world to “win” since they are entrenched, far better organized and funded. So, stop competing! Focus on getting results. This karmic shift will become evident in everything: how you talk, practice, advertise, flyers, even treatment programs. If you focus on results, you’ll be able to seek referrals from MD’s…and get them!

3. People want to try new things. In another survey, people were asked: “What do you think of Acupuncture?” 16% said “they tried it and it works,” 34% said “they might try it someday,” 50% said “No thanks” or “I probably won’t try it.” So the results conclude that at least 50% of the population is open to the idea. So, why have only 16% tried it? Same reason I always order Vanilla with Raspberries in my Blizzard at Dairy Queen! I’ve tried it, and I’m comfortable with the experience! It is our job to help the public realize that they can be comfortable with Acupuncture & Alternative Medicine.


1. Presentation is Everything!
Now that you know where I’m coming from, the following suggestions might make a little more sense. At a public event, I recommend focusing on no more than one or two of the top three complaints people have. Banners, posters & all discussions should focus on solving the problems you choose. According to Google, here are the top five.

Keyword US Monthly Searches (Millions!!!)
 energy     20,400,000
 pain     13,600,000
 ache      2,240,000
 chronic      1,500,000
 tired      1,000,000

Now that your message is focused…let’s meet their need! When they go to a health fair, they’re looking for the same answers: How can I have more Energy? What can help me with this pain? I ache all the time! Is there any thing I can do for this chronic _______? Why am I so tired?

Your display, posters, flyers and conversation must focus on your ability to solve these problems. Take, for example, the issues of Energy, Chronic Fatigue and Tiredness. Can you see how your services are such an elegant solution since Acupuncture restores and stimulates the proper flow of QI (energy) through the body?! Don’t spend time talking about ‘how’ it’s done, just focus on the fact that YOU get results and set the appointment!

Can you see how this type of language will attract the 30-50% of the population that is curious? 


The Display
A good display does not have to be expensive. There are many ways to add creative graphics and images that will attract people while not overwhelming them. The rule of thumb is: “Avoid Information Overload.” I’m sure you’ve been to events that overwhelm you with text, images, and printed material. Your display should be simple enough to ‘take in’ within 5 seconds. How long is five seconds? Count to five as you look around your office…did it feel like a long time? Studies have shown that you can notice the major details in 3-7 seconds, so keep it simple.

 The Hook

One of the most common ‘hooks’ at health fairs is the chair massage. I don’t recommend them since they remove the person from discussing anything during their treatment and the conversion to an appointment in the clinic is low. You need a tool that is VERY helpful public events. An effective tool is the AcuGraph by Miridia Technology. This tool analyzes the energetic status of the Acupuncture Meridians and identifies where energy is slowed, blocked or excessive. It uses sound and full-color graphics to create a visual representation of how the person’s energy is being blocked. The exam takes no more than 5 minutes, however, Acugraph has an even quicker Screening exam that was designed for use at health fairs and this takes just 1-2 minutes. A one page, full-color graphic report is printed for the patient to take with him or her.

The AcuGraph is a “bridge” between the Western Medicine mindset and the Eastern medicine methods. People love technology and have been trained to compare “numbers.” Blood pressure, Glucose, LDL & HDL…etc. Now there is a tool that will give them a number that will improve as they become healthy. Using this tool at health fairs will return a 30-50% appointment rate!

The Paperwork

You’ll need just 3 items:

1. Sign in sheet: When you get their Name, Phone and Email you will be able to send tips and helpful information. This ongoing marketing is essential! Simply don’t screen anyone who won’t provide this basic information.

2. Printed AcuGraph report with a Branded Cover Sheet: You can customize a coversheet to go with the AcuGraph printout. This should have your logo, location and the appointment time.

3. Appointment book and cards: Use an ‘old fashioned’ weekly appointment book to record their names. Even if you’ll just enter them into a computer later, having the person see you write it in a book is powerful reinforcement and your show rates will go up. Of course, you’ll also want to give them a card with their appointment date and time!

Let’s Script it out:

As people walk by the booth, the sounds and graphing on the monitor will cause them to pause and watch. Your assistant will walk up next to them and look at the monitor…pointing out what was just tested, answer any quick question they ask, then say: “Isn’t that interesting. I wonder what your graph would look like?” The person usually asks how much it costs, so tell them that “it’s free!” Continue on by saying; “So many people are tired all the time and have no energy, come take 4 minutes and see what’s blocking yours.” At this point, the assistant turns and walks over by the chairs with the clipboard…95% of the time they will follow. Ask for their name, phone number, and email. Instruct them to take a seat and the doctor will be right with them. When the doctor finishes the screening she/he will thank them and then instruct them to set an appointment with the assistant to receive the complete exam.  The assistant then sets the appointment and thanks to the guest for taking the time. The guest leaves with a cover page, graphic printout and an appointment card!

The Results

A practitioner I coached used this exact approach and conducted 120 screenings at a Saturday health fair. She set 30 appointments and gained 20 new patients! As an added benefit she now has the emails of nearly 150 people who expressed interest in what she was doing! Now she can conduct an e-marketing campaign!  Which leads us to next weeks Topic:  Internet & Social Media Marketing!

See the AcuGraph in action here.

Please rate this

Alan Gifford MS, Practice Coach

For 20 years, Alan worked in the corporate world as a director of sales and marketing. He made a career change in 2003, returning to complete his Masters degree in Exercise and Wellness from Arizona State University. As a marketer and Exercise Physiologist, Alan spent the next four years working with Healthcare practitioners to increase patient volume, satisfaction and retention. He now works directly with clients of Miridia Technology to promote their practice and patient experience. In addition to English, he is fluent in Spanish and assists in developing our Latin-market presence.

One Reply to “Health Fairs & Trade Shows CAN be Productive!”

  1. For the successful trade shows or fairs, the Fundamental knowledge and tools play a vital role. This is well described in this blog. Great work.

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