Trade shows are commonly viewed as an opportunity to market and promote a company’s products and services to the rest of the industry and to consumers as well. They are also seen as a perfect place for gathering leads and networking with others at the show. But, another very important benefit of attending a trade show is to learn. That’s right, it might not seem like the most novel of trade show ideas, but focusing on professional development and market research at the trade show can be one of those extremely rewarding undertakings that will very likely surprise you with how much you can come away with.
We’re not just talking about foregoing all the trade show exhibits and just sitting in talks and seminars all day long. While this can be a very rewarding and illuminating experience, like in the rest of life, you will find that you can learn even more by being in the thick of things. In other words, being on the trade show floor and taking in all of the different displays and trade show exhibits.
There is so much to learn about your competitors and the market in general, simply by observing the way that other companies are structuring their trade show displays. In fact, you might even consider dedicating a few staffers to this kind of polite observation and research. A post-show report on the competition, what they were focused on, what kind of products or services they featured and what seemed to work in terms of trade show ideas can be invaluable information not just for your next time exhibiting, but for your company’s strategy going forward in general.
In fact, you don’t just have to passively observe other trade show exhibits. Don’t be afraid to have staff engage other exhibitors and talk to them about their products, their goals, their preparation for the show or whatever. Even if they may be a competitor, this isn’t the cold war. You will normally find representatives and even some upper management and executives who are more than willing to discuss things with you. Expecting, of course, that there will be some reciprocation of that willingness on your part as well.
So, next time you are attending or exhibiting at a trade show, don’t forget to take it all in and use the opportunity for learning and research.