Networking, welcome parties, and complimentary food (and drink tickets) are nice, but conferences can run a pretty penny—anywhere from $100 to upwards of $1500 per attendee, depending on the size of the event and the caliber of the speakers. Before shelling out any of your hard-earned money to attend or sponsor an event of this kind, you’ll need to make sure it’s worth the investment of your time and money. But value isn’t one-size-fits-all. What might benefit a clinic owner probably isn’t so relevant to an exhibitor, and vice-versa. So, what’s in it for you? Here’s a quick breakdown by perspective:
As the owner of a rehab therapy private practice, you have a big responsibility to keep your business running like a well-oiled machine, and that can be a bit isolating. Getting out of the office for a conference may open you up to a whole new world. Of course, there are networking opportunities, but conferences aren’t just about netting useful contacts in the business. It’s also about connecting with people who truly understand the unique challenges of owning and operating a PT practice. Who doesn’t like to feel heard and understood? Furthermore, attending a conference gives you the chance to soak up sage business advice and insight from successful private practice owners and industry leaders. Though most owners can benefit from a little Business 101, if parts of your business are getting a bit squeaky—or if you’re looking to take your business to the next level or develop an exit strategy—you’ll find that certain conferences are particularly valuable.
What better way to learn more about the rehab therapy profession than to engage with other folks in your specialty and across the field? Regardless of your position—therapist, tech, or biller—a conference offers you the opportunity to collaborate with, and learn from, industry leaders and other forward-thinking rehab therapy professionals. But don’t settle for any ol’ event; you’ll want to attend conferences that increase your value to your employer. That means weeding out any events that don’t offer content relevant to your current position or career. Licensed professionals will especially want to seek out conferences that offer CEUs. Fair warning: Any industry conference that doesn’t offer CEUs is likely focused on selling you something—not furthering your personal or professional education.
Sponsorship is for the hands-off marketer. It provides you with the exposure you need—without the hassle of actually attending the conference. As you investigate sponsorship opportunities, you’ll want to consider all of the available options and their costs. Ideally, the price to promote your business should be commensurate with the amount of exposure you receive, not necessarily the size of the object on which your logo is placed. Depending on your budget, you can choose to slap your name and logo on a variety of items, including on water bottles, name tags, welcome bags, banners—even the coffee station. Because the best part of waking up is your branding all over their cup.
Eager to meet and greet potential customers from all over your region, country, or world? Great. As an exhibitor, you’ll want to look for well-attended, well-received, and well-reviewed conferences. A small event with poor attendance won’t give you the exposure you need. If it takes far longer to put up your booth than it does to walk around the entire venue, you might want to skip it. But if you can afford to set up shop at an influential conference—or one that you know will be full of your target customers—jump on it.
Whether you’re interested in meeting like-minded professionals, learning more about the therapy business, obtaining CEUs, or getting new customers, conferences can offer you a pretty big bang for your buck—but only if they truly meet your needs. Before purchasing your ticket, take a good, hard look at your professional goals and compare them to the conference agenda to make sure they’re a match.
(Quick promotion: If you haven’t checked out Ascend, the ultimate business summit for rehab therapy professionals, I sincerely recommend you do so. If you decide you want to attend, use the code “WebPTblog” during checkout to receive $100 off registration.)