When most tradeshow sophisticates hear that a
company is participating in a show or event only because their competitors are
there, they throw up their hands and painfully
exclaim, "The industry has not
changed in 20 years." After years of hearing how wrong it is to be in a show or
event just because your competitors are there, we can now
hold our heads up high
and say with assurance that we are there for a good reason -- our competitors are there!
So what changed? The answer is threefold:
1. We finally realized that there is value in observing
what our competitors do at shows.
2. Competitor activities can be measured and evaluated.
3. And, we recognize that tradeshows are the ultimate
breeding ground for information exchanges.
Intelligence experts worldwide say the ripest field for
gaining the most competitive intelligence at one place is at a tradeshow. And
this intelligence can be fed into the strategic
hopper for further analysis
about shifts and moves in the industry as well as what’s going on among the
players. Some companies make intelligence gathering a dedicated
shows. They establish a team comprised of internal or external experts, set
goals for information categories they want to learn about and prepare an action
for gathering and reporting meaningful information. The following is a
sample checklist of the types of things you can learn about your competitors at
What product or service trends did you notice?
Are they the same or different from your company’s?
What techniques for demonstrating
products/services did you notice? Are they the same or different from your
- Which key competitors were exhibiting?
- Were there any new companies with competing
products at the show? Who/what?
- Were key competitor booth locations in prime
traffic flow or were they "hidden?"
- How elaborate was their booth?
- What was their marketing focus in the booth?
(Product, service, etc.)
- Were products/services bundled in new or
- Did they introduce new products or services?
What was it? When is it available? How did attendees receive it? What were the
features of this new product?
- What literature was available? (Yes, there
are some companies who still hand out literature at shows!)
- What graphics were used in the booth? On
banners? What was their key message?
- Did their behavior match advertisement promises
- Did they make specific delivery promises or
offer pricing options? (often disclosed)
- How was their booth traffic? What area in the
booth got the most traffic?
- How did they greet visitors to their booth? How
did attendees react? What kind of questions did attendees ask at competitor
booths? Did they qualify visitors or just
- Did you see your customers at competitor booths?
What were they looking at or talking about?
- What did competitors say about your company and
its products? "Spies" can ask direct questions like: What do you think about the
ABC Company or ABC’s widgets?
- What was the competitors’ booth staff
composition? (Management, engineers, sales people, etc.)
- What did you think about their demonstrations?
Their booth? Their staff?
- Which companies placed ads in trade publications
to advertise their presence at this show?
- Did any companies conduct pre-show mailings that
you are aware of? Ask your customers who are attending to save mailing samples
- How did they engage the press? (Press kits in
the media area, a press party, etc.)
- Did they give away promotional items? What? How
What competitors were at the show but not
exhibiting? What were they doing instead?
- What key company leaders attended? Were they at
the booth or roaming?
- Did they host a hospitality event? What was it?
How were people invited? (Target mailing ahead of time, invitations to any
attendee from the booth, hotel delivered invitations
under the door, etc.) How
was the attendance?
- Were they recruiting at the show? What
- Did they participate with conference speakers?
Were they keynoters or session presenters? What was the attendance like in those
sessions? What topics were covered?
What kinds of questions were asked?
- What key suppliers were talking to
Competitor Event Cost Estimates
- How much did they pay for space? [You already
know the per square foot cost.]
- What were their estimated booth expenditures?
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