Every trade show floor offers a gold mine of competitive intelligence which savvy show attendees exploit in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. However, exhibit program managers can contribute a healthy dose of competitive intelligence well before trade show season even begins.
Here are some things to investigate about your competitors as you begin to plan your own event program:
Where are they and what are they doing there?
- Review the shows at which your competitor has chosen to exhibit. Many companies maintain a “Where To Find Us” type of section on their website which details their slate of shows.
- Show websites are also a great source of information on multiple competitors at one time.
- Take note of any sponsorship opportunities your competition has purchased, as well as their exhibit size and location. If available, compare this information to last year’s activity.
What are they talking about?
- Comb through competitors’ webpages and social media for sneak peeks, product launches and show reports. Be sure to search using the show’s hashtag – check to see if the show uses a year-specific hashtag (i.e. SHOWEVENT) or one marked with the year (i.e. SHOWEVENT2018, SHOWEVENT2019…etc.). This should be done to review prior shows, as well as during the show as part of your trade show social media strategy.
- Try to find out if the competitor is offering a client VIP experience, and the details. Often, the sales team may have this scoop from trusted clients. Use this information to plan your show-related activities and perks.
How can I stay ahead of them?
- Review competitors’ exhibit structure and activities from last year – or earlier industry shows this year – and take a completely different approach to design, engagement and even swag so that you are completely differentiated.
- Keep in mind that most exhibit properties have a three-to-five-year life expectancy, so you can anticipate whether your competitor might be making a splash with an updated new exhibit.
- Study the show’s floorplan thoroughly, planning your space strategically so you are not neighboring direct competitors.
- Be sure to integrate a competitive intelligence plan into your exhibit staffing plan, allowing each team member time to roam and gather information live on the show floor. Multiple people will always notice more than one person alone.
By thinking strategically about competitive intelligence during the planning period of your exhibit program, you can make valuable contributions to the success of your organization!