How to get the most out of CPhI - a survival guide for pharma's biggest tradeshow

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Raman Sehgal – CEO of marketing, digital and PR agency, Ramarketing
Raman Sehgal – CEO of marketing, digital and PR agency, Ramarketing
CPhI Worldwide is a marathon not a sprint says marketing guru Raman Sehgal who has written a survival guide for folks going to the drug industry’s biggest tradeshow. first met Raman Sehgal – CEO of fast growing marketing, digital and PR agency, Ramarketing- at CPhI in Frankfurt, Germany in 2008.

Sehgal has been to CPhI almost every year since, so when we learned he’d written a survival guide we asked him to share his tips and strategy for the show.

Hi Raman, hope you’re well. What, in your opinion, is the key to a successful CPhI?

For exhibitors, I believe the key is to use the event as a platform to nurture existing relationships (clients, journalists, suppliers, potential employees etc) and to get noticed for what you’re truly brilliant at (not every service under the sun) by people who’ve maybe not heard of you before. 

For visitors, walk and meet people. Simple. 

What is your biggest success at CPhI?

What’s interesting is last week I came across my meeting schedule from 2014. Several of people I met that year are now clients of ramarketing, which is a sustainable success. Just remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Meet new people, ask lots of questions and be memorable. No one likes a pushy salesman - don’t be that guy/gal. 

What is your most embarrassing CPhI moment?

One year, I was at the Capsugel stand and as you can imagine, they had containers full of capsules. Stupidly and paying very little attention to who’s stand I was on, I thought they were sweets so decided to chew and swallow a couple. God knows what they were but they tasted nasty and then got stuck in my throat. I tried to play it cool while clearly choking to death!! 

How do you prepare for CPhI?

CPhI is a massive deal for most of our CMO/CDMO clients and given we have about 15 across Europe and the US, this makes it a big deal for us. Most preparation is around supporting clients’ stand designs, merchandise, PR announcements etc.

For me personally, it’s about planning ahead and using the event to meet existing clients and contacts that I don’t ordinarily get to see face to face. By the time I board the flight from the UK, my diary is normally pretty full but always with time to walk the floor, meet new people and of course enjoy a few cheeky European beers.

What’s in your CPhI kitbag?

My running kit. And I’m not even kidding. Paris, Madrid, Barcelona and Frankfurt. I don’t buy the excuse that you have to spend three days solid in the event hall. I make a point of running around the city at least one morning. Beyond that, lip balm is essential as the halls are as dry as the Sahara! 

With so many pharma shows, how important is CPhI for you?

Over the last decade, I’ve been involved with tons of research projects with drug developers conducted by contract service companies. One question we always ask is what shows do you attend. 90% of the time, CPhI is on the list. Says everything. 

How do you balance the overwhelming number of social and drinks events surrounding the event?

I don’t. I attend most of them! This year I am the gin compere at a client stand, which says everything. In all seriousness, the social events are the place to lower your guard, meet people and just be yourself. Conversation is about personal lives, hobbies, families, football etc i.e. the real good stuff in life.  

Any tips of what to do in Barcelona?

This is my 5th time in Barcelona and it’s one of my favourite cities on earth. If you have time, visit the rooftop bar at hotel 1898 as it has stunning views across the city. Also, walk/run around and savour the beauty of the buildings. It is an incredible place. 

You can download Raman’s full CPhI survival guide here​.

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