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The 4 Key Things You Need to Research before Your Next Show

by Jim Cermak

Episode 011 – The 4 Key Things You Need to Research before Your Next Show

For many people listening to this right now, you are headed right into a busy trade show season, or maybe right in the middle of one. The best part about this is no matter when your next show is, you can utilize research as your secret weapon to give yourself an edge at the show and beyond. Obviously, if your next show is still a ways away, that gives you more time to research, but even if it’s just a week away, you can still conduct research to give your company an edge!

If you are heading into a brand new show you have never been to before, then research is so critically important.

But research is also for shows you have done before, maybe even multiple times before.

Here are the 4 Key Things you need to Research before Your Next Show:

· First – What industry does that show serve. To best prepare your booth, what info you will be bringing, what your focus and your message will be, you need to understand all about the industry – even if you’ve been in that industry for years! Here’s what you need to research:

o Industry trends,

o Who are the industry Leaders – what do they focus on? What is their messaging and branding? Learn from how they do what they do

o Buying habits – important to know their buying habits, and how things may have changed. Do they buy direct or go through buying groups or dealers?

o Have government regulations affected the industry?

· Second – All of the Show info – how old is the show, number of attendees, number of exhibitors, speaking opportunities, networking opportunity.

o Doesn’t matter if you have done this show many times in the past, dig through the show website to find out what’s new. Shows are constantly trying to reinvent themselves to keep things fresh and attendees coming. They may open up new segments to draw in whole new markets.

o You don’t want to be caught off guard and miss out on new opportunities! Find out what the show is doing new. This should be on the show website, and if you can’t figure it out, call your show contact and ask!

· Third – Your Competition – who is your competition in this space? You may know who the current competitors are, but what do you know about them? Do they have new products? How are they changing? What are their strengths and weaknesses? And who are the new competitors? Pay attention to any new names coming into the market! They may be bringing all new products, services, and ideas that can sway customers in their direction.

o Stay aware of companies that are not direct competitors, but sell a similar or complementary product or service. Especially if they sell to the same customer base you are selling to.

o Another example would be a complementary business that becomes a direct competitor.

o Don’t dismiss anything the competition is offering or saying. Better yet, use the information you found to create answers and a response to attendees who mention your competition and what they have to offer.

o The key takeaway from the competition is to never be caught off guard. Be aware, prepare and be ready.

· Fourth – Where to go to do your research. There are several inexpensive or free options available to you which are excellent resources. Some will give better results than others based on what industry you are in and what you’re looking for.

o Show website – This is a must for finding out who attends the show, how many people, who else is exhibiting, who is speaking and so much more.

o Internet Search engines – Yahoo, Bing, YouTube, Google and others.

o Industry associations – The purpose of an association is to serve its members, and one of the ways they do that is by conducting their own research. Most associations have tons of stats, data, and info that can help you better understand the industry they serve, and it’s often free!

o Industry publications – always a great resource for the most up to date industry trends, case studies, and data

o LinkedIn – Search companies you would like to target, can find job titles of leadership, and identify similar companies. Find industry groups, join in and see what discussions are happening on the hottest topics.

o Government websites and resources. Not only can you find info on the government and its many agencies if you are marketing to them, but can also find out data on population, worldwide trends, and much more. The Library of Congress website is widely regarded as one of the top research sites. Looking for more localized info? Check out your local chamber of commerce.

Research doesn’t stop when you get to the show! Research competitors, and industry, attend talks and get important info you may not be able to get anywhere else.

One last thing – be quick and efficient with your research. It can be so easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information available to you. Figure out before you start what you want the research to do for you, and then stop after you have gotten the info you need.

· So get in, get the info you need, then get out.

· Also make note of resources that you want to go back to later that may be helpful in other areas of your business.

HERE’S THE WRAP-UP! Here are the four main things you want to consider to make research your secret weapon for your next Trade Show!

· #1 understand what industry the show serves. Investigate the trends, buying habits, leaders and more.

· #2 – research the show. Dig through the show website to get all the info you need to best prepare you and your resources.

· #3 – research your competition – Try to understand their strengths, weaknesses and offerings – and the know-how you compare.

· And #4 – where to go for your research. Know your options so you can be efficient and effective with your time.

About the author, Jim

Jim Cermak has over 25 years of marketing, consulting and training experience, and has planned and worked hundreds of Trade Shows. He gets a little overly excited about Trade Shows, and puts that passion into helping companies get better results!

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