“I didn’t expect them to say yes,” Elsevier’s executive director of global clinical reference, Karen Philip, told MM&Mabout the experiential marketing campaign she proposed to promote its ClinicalKey medical reference tool.

The marketing campaign, which launched October 1, consists of two mobile units that roam the country by appointment to bring an immersive experience to institutions and individuals. The units include tech and are accompanied by two brand ambassadors who work with the site’s reps to make sure the presentation anticipates and has the answers to employee questions.

This roaming exhibition space is a first for the Dutch publisher and is promoted on site with a plethora of materials that include a series of emails sent out before the event by human resources departments as well as posters. Both the emails and posters can be co-branded with the host institution and Elsevier, or can run as Elsevier-only pieces, depending on the host’s preference.

Philip said the informational push begins about four weeks before the exhibit shows up on site, and that the actual set-up begins a day before the exhibit opens, during which the exhibition team and the site’s representatives assess the best locations for maximum traffic and get things up and running.

The current mobile experience is geared toward institutions—the institutional version of ClinicalKey launched in April, and the individual version followed in mid-September. Philip added that the presentation is largely based on the existing relationship between the hosting institution and the publisher. “If they know Elsevier already, the focus will be different than one without access historically to resources like this,” Philip said, adding, “so you’re really trying to introduce both Elsevier and the product itself.”

Philip said the road show presentation has been a critical tool to help physicians and institutions understand ClinicalKey’s scope. The immediate specs are that it includes more than 500 Elsevier medical and surgical journals, over 800 medical and surgical reference books, all clinical pharmacology drug monographs, more than 9,000 medical and surgical videos and third-party published patient education, among other features. This mass of content has been tagged “down to the paragraph sentence level,” using a combination of medical taxonomies that includes, for example, the ICD-9. Philips said the result is that a search for a  clinical concept automatically seeks out synonyms and related concepts so readers get “the most relevant answer the most quickly, and on top of it, can expose content or concepts you would have missed if you were doing a traditional keyword search.”

It’s a massive concept and one Philip said left doctors asking, “What is this?” She said professionals have been really taken with the mobile exhibits, and said the amount of time doctors have spent inside has exceeded expectations. “We kind of thought if we got five minutes out of a physician that was pretty much a total success… we’re getting an average visit of 10 minutes, some staying as long as 30.”

She said the exhibit has had two immediate results: an impact on sales and “our eyes got really wide open early on that if you put it in a physician’s hand, they see the benefit pretty early, pretty quickly.”

She also said the process of bringing the tour on-site and assessing a site’s needs, as well as the experience itself has the added benefit of cultivating a relationship between institutions and individuals and Elsevier before pricing discussions begin, taking out some of the tension that accompanies pricing discussions.

But prices are part of the business, and Philip said the average price for an individual subscription is $600 a year, and could range between $400 and $800 a year.

Institutional prices are linked to the number of beds at a given institution—an organization with fewer than 50 beds could have a subscription that is $14,000 a year, and Philip pegged the value of the tools at $50,000. Medical schools can also subscribe and their rate is based on full-time enrollment numbers.

ClinicalKey is one of Elsevier’s many products, and Philip said the goal is to make sure “our customers never pay for the same content twice.” In terms of pricing, this means if a ClinicalKey subscriber is also a subscribed to the very same information on ScienceDirect, they are given a credit so they are not paying for the same information twice.

Philip said this doesn’t introduce a subscriber cannibalization issue because “the products we have are really for different purposes.”

Philip said institutions make up the bulk of subscriptions, but that she expects individual subscriptions will eventually dominate the sales split.

She said that corporate’s feedback has been positive, and she expects that experiential marketing will surface more frequently in the company’s health and sciences business, but that it’s too soon to tell if it will become a template for the company as a whole.