Bright ideas on horizon at annual show

Sunday, February 27, 2011

GLENDALE, Ariz. - The typical women's health provider nowadays is a savvy businesswoman committed to her patients and her business. It's a balancing act that this year's "Focus on the Future Conference and Tradeshow" seeks to help them maintain.

"The commitment to build relationships with their customers is still of paramount importance," said Cindy Ciardo, manager of vendor services for the buying group Essentially Women, which hosts the event. "But these are also good businesswomen who know that with all of the competition, including Internet price-gouging, they have to do something more than just provide a service. There needs to be a reason for customers to come back."

This year's event, themed "New Horizons," takes place April 4-6 in Glendale, Ariz. It will offer an exhibit hall, networking events and a slate of educational sessions encompassing topics that range from patient empathy to product diversification.

"I think everyone is being forced to think outside of the box," said Ciardo. "Becoming too dependent on one or two product lines or payer sources could spell disaster."

To that end, sessions on wigs and diabetic shoes are offered this year. While offering wigs and hats is an obvious fit for a women's health boutique, the diabetic shoe market is a new market for these providers to tap into, said Ciardo.

"There are many reasons that a woman would prefer to buy shoes at a women's boutique," she said. "Generally, we're more fashion oriented. Also, women like working with women, maybe because they feel they can identify better with the aesthetic concerns a man may not take as seriously."

There are also sessions on Internet and social media marketing. Providers are getting better at this, but they still have a way to go, said Ciardo.

"One way or another, businesses need a presence online," she said. "I think most of our members understand this, but don't now how to fully utilize their sites or the social media opportunities that Facebook and others provide."