As we know, trade shows are the venues where businesses can promote their products and brands, find new customers, suppliers, investors and business partners, study the market. But many companies forget that trade shows gather not only potential clients, but also competitors. This lends the opportunity to observe and study competitors, look what products they showcase, learn more about their plans and other valuable information.
As a rule, competitors at trade shows are more open and friendly. They look for new contacts, trying to attract new partners and buyers. This fact lets your business collect maximum information about them, while remaining unnoticed. You can use your discovering with benefits for your business.
Why is it expedient to collect information about competitors at exhibitions?
- Companies attend trade shows in order to assert themselves, to show off their achievements and products, therefore they are knowingly more open.
- Trade show stuff being in less formal environment is usually ready to tell what you will never know if you come to their office.
- Traditionally, the stuff for the work at a display is selected with criteria of being attractive and engaging, and not being the most competent and cautious. It is much easier to get information you need out of them than out of hard-headed employees.
- The work at a display shows the relationship of competitors with other clients.
- The display clearly shows all the strengths and weaknesses of competing companies. For example, you can see the range of the products they showcase, how they deal with customers, what is their general marketing plan, etc.
- The majority of competitors are territorially gathered in one place. Therefore it is possible to obtain the necessary information within one to two days without additional time and financial resources.
- There is an excellent opportunity to “peek from behind the scenes” and see what is happening at a display. Sometimes due to the heavy employment of trade show stuff you can see some of the aspects of their work. For example, you can learn how their working process is organized, what working relationship they have, what problems they face every day. Maybe you can even notice employees you would like to poach.
- There are a large number of people (wholesalers, retail buyers, suppliers, partners and prospects) visit trade show displays every day, so you have a chance to study competitors without letting them know about it.
What sources of information you can use to study competitors
- Open informationThe first thing that a trade show allows you to do is to verify and recheck information obtained from open press and marketing research. The most usual promotional materials of the competitor – leaflets, booklets, price lists, etc. will help to understand the declared quality and product characteristics, price positioning, target groups and much more. Not to mention that you may find out what new products and brands competitors are going to launch.
- Non-public informationThe main source of this information is representatives of competing companies. Talking to them can provide valuable information about the company’s development plans and answer a whole series of vital questions. For example, will they expand the range of products, and how? Will the quality of the product and pricing policy change? Are they going to explore new markets and regions?
It is clear that if you try to obtain this information directly you won’t achieve much. A more promising way is to entrust this task to your business partners, of course, the most reliable and proven. The situation in which the competitor is looking for new partners or customers is the most favorable. In this case, a prospective buyer can find out some valuable information: prices, supply volumes, open and closed discounts, bonuses, etc.
As we see, trade shows are great venues if you want to watch and study competitors. Of course it is a very difficult task, requiring very serious training, professionalism, qualifications, strength and resources. But if you manage to get this valuable information it will help you to improve your marketing plan and performance.