Industry events are outstanding opportunities for gathering information from competitors, customers, partners, and distributors. There’s a gold mine there for the taking, in terms of how to develop and position your products and services in the marketplace. Still, that same hyper-focused nature of these events means you need a well organized approach to take full advantage of the opportunity.
Making Your Approach Smooth and Steady
There’s a lot happening at industry trade shows, all at once, and there’s a limited amount of time. Being methodical is the key to transforming that frenzy of activity into a bonanza of insight:
- Unimpeachable ethics: Be frank and truthful about who you are and why you’re there. In our years of experience, we have found that people manning booths are eager to share information, and they appreciate it when those who approach them are honest and well-informed.
- Thorough planning: Know what you’re doing before you arrive. Ahead of time, you should establish questions that you want to have answered, and by whom. That plan needs to be updated at least nightly during the event, since new information will keep coming in.
- Smart approach: Choose the right time to walk up to the booth. Watch for an opportunity when you’re not part of a crowd, especially when traffic is light such as early in the morning, during lunch, or at the end of the day. To polish your delivery, practice at a booth or two less important to your goals.
Engaging with the People at the Booth
Your first goal in gathering intelligence is to get the people working at booths talking, and starting with a simple question, such as “what are you demonstrating?” can be the best way to break the ice.
Focusing on getting them to talk in their own sphere of expertise can also let you know more about the person you’re talking to, in terms of their role, how technical they are, etc. If you see that you need to talk to someone in a different role, you can guide the conversation in that direction, which opens more doors to the information you need.
Taking Full Advantage of Resources
A lot of information is available on the expo floor, but keynotes and break-out sessions are also vital, since that’s where companies make announcements and detail their technology. Have questions ready and gather contact information so you can follow up later.
When doing trade show intelligence, you should send out updates every night, and at the end of the event. Those shouldn’t be simply summary and reportage but need to include real analysis and insights to transform copious raw intelligence into targeted business insight.
By Sean Campbell
By Scott Swigart