How to gather trade show Competitive Intelligence
This article, how to gather trade show Competitive Intelligence, offers an interesting perspective on collecting Insight on your competitors.
Trade shows are excellent sources for competitor information. At trade shows, you can collect competitor brochures and other marketing materials, but there is some much more you can find. It is a fantastic opportunity to get some great Intelligence on your competitors future intentions.
Don’t miss the opportunity
If brochures are all you collect, then you’ve missed a significant opportunity to learn more about your competitors. Trade shows offer a chance to take a fresh look at your competitive landscape. You will get an up to date of what’s happening. Who’s doing what and what new products are on display.
Try and understand why your competitors are attending and what are they telling the world. What new products are on display, what benefits are they claiming, and how are they marketing themselves? Which company has splashed out on a bigger booth? Who’s had to cut costs and had to get a smaller one? And which competitor is not going to be there? Any new competitors presenting for the first time? Also, are their any alliances being created? What seminars and product presentations and demonstrations are planned? Remember to ask why to all of the above.
It is wise to prepare for the trade show visit well before you attend. Isolate the companies who are going to be there. Study your competitors from afar and try and understand why they are going to attend. Get an exhibitor floor plan and see which of your competitors have the best pitches. Which ones are located at the back and are not going to get much footfall? Are they found in the same place as they were last time? What does all this research tell you about what your competitors are focusing on and their current position in the market?
Like everything associated with Competitive Intelligence, it is essential to think about what you want to get out of the trade show visit. Set some objectives and determine the questions you need to answer. Also, it would help if you worked out how and what questions you are going to ask those representatives on the booths.
At the show
There are many ways to approach the actual visit. Depends on how important you see the trade show and how much budget you have to spend. Trade show Intelligence is best done as a team exercise. So your team can visit several booths at once, repeat booth visits to ask a different question with a new face.
Hit a booth with two people. One to talk, the other to listen and to judge the response from other visitors. Perhaps try interrupting the salesperson while they are talking to your colleague can sometimes reveal great answers.
It’s best to compare notes regularly, but if your budget allows why not book a hotel room next to the exhibition hall? Why? Use the space as your Intelligence Centre. Whiteboards and post-it notes around the room with the agreed questions displayed. When you find the answer fill it in. Someone disagrees or has supporting material it will all come together straight away. Have boxes at the ready for competitor marketing material and put them in order. The order you place them in is entirely up to you and will be evident at the time.
Have other people in the room reading the marketing material and analyse the information you have found. So know what position you are in straight away. Having an intelligence centre close by will also reveal what you haven’t found out yet. Better to find out you need more information with 5 hours to go before the Trad Show shuts, then the next day when it’s all packed up. What new products and services you need to find more about. Try and get to the show early, or the night before. Find your competitors in the hotel bar, and as the drink flows, they will start talking shop. Complain about the boss, boast about their new product and many other things.
Arrive early at the show and look for your competitors. Assess who is on the stands and assess how popular their stands are. Listen to other visitors conversations too. Are salespeople happy and motivated? How do they sell, what’s their approach? What benefits and features do they focus on. Is the stand entirely staffed by office juniors or are senior directors attending?
When you go to the stand, how are you greeted? Do they ask who you are and what you are looking for? Near the end of the show, you will find tired, less motivated staff working the stands. You may get junior salespeople looking to make a name for themselves. Ask the questions you need to know.
After the show
After the show Determine what you have learned, what else you need to know now and build s report answering the questions. Make sure the Intelligence found is communicated and used. As with all competitive intelligence collection, it is essential to stay ethical by adhering to SCIP code of ethics.
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