How to Use Trade Shows to Gather Competitive Intelligence Data
Trade shows can provide interesting opportunities for competitive intelligence. To begin with, most companies send a senior executive or product expert to meet and greet clients or prospects at such gatherings. Additionally, participating organizations make a lot of information available to everyone who visits their booths. Before attending a trade show or sending other personnel to a trade show, plan ahead:
Obtain a map of the exhibitors and target the ones you want to visit. You may even jot down a list of information you want to obtain from each exhibitor.
If other people from your company are attending the trade show as well, remind them to gather intel in addition to their other duties.
Establish a procedure for gathering all printed materials that are collected by your team.
You can use cameras and cellphones to take pictures or record presentations. If a competitor makes a presentation at a trade show, it’s fair game from an intelligence standpoint.
When you return to your home base, take the following steps to convert the information you gathered into something useful:
Have each attendee complete an intelligence summary sheet.
Organize the intelligence summaries into a single document with a cover page containing the following information:
Names of companies mentioned in the report
Key issues or information revealed in the data
Analysis of information
Summary of intelligence
Recommendations for further investigation or action
Input all relevant data into your CI database to inform future analysis.Credit: Illustration courtesy of Jim Underwood