Every top CI team uses trade show
and conference CI to augment their collection and analysis capabilities and
it's not as tough to get started and ramp up a level of competence as you
With the arrival of autumn comes the fall exhibition season and Aurora trade
show specialists are fanning out across the country to visit some of the
most significant industry events in a number of industries. It's possible
we might already be visiting the show you're interested in scanning, so get
in touch by calling 800-924-4249 or emailing
for more information about schedules, samples of research output/reports
and daily rates.
Aurora can also help with trade show intelligence outside the USA and Canada
- we've sent teams as well as individual analysts to shows in Europe, throughout
Asia and Latin America. And, Aurora's industry background ranges from
high-technology, consumer electronics and communications to pharmaceuticals,
biotech and medical devices... plus many more.
Finally, when it's time to build your own competency in-house, we'll train
your internal team and supplement your efforts on the ground with innovative
approaches to acquire the intelligence you want and need, while protecting
your own company from competitors running their own trade show intelligence
A Critical Concentration of Intelligence
Conferences and tradeshows are times when companies bring their latest and
greatest products, services and technologies out for the industry to swoon
over. You're seeking intelligence about competitors that either present or
exhibit at conference and exposition events, but are reluctant or uncomfortable
to ask them about their activities.
That's where Aurora comes in. While ethics dictate complete honesty about
our identity, we can ask the questions your competitors representatives might
not answer for you. Usually, this involves traveling to the event and
interviewing personnel directly from your competitors' company, customer
base or partner network - and, you'll be surprised by how economical a tradeshow
or conference project can be.
most valuable reason to attend a national industry meeting is frequently
overlooked. Simply put, it's a "target rich environment" in which those people
most critical to your company's future ability to compete are gathered.
Who attends national trade shows?
Your competitors' suppliers
Trade Publication Editors
Gathering intelligence from competitive literature and anecdotal information
is like reading yesterday's newspaper. It's already too late. In short, the
trade show presents an impressive collection of industry influences, those
with the most intimate knowledge and most vested interest in the information
that drives the industry.
What Can Trade Show Intelligence Reveal About
|Plans & Intentions:
There is an array of information you can discover in the open forum of a
national gathering. The bottom line to you is a positive return on investment.
Intelligence can give your company early warning to reduce client churn,
increase market share by outmaneuvering rivals, and increase sales by focusing
on "sell-against" strategies and compelling client acquisition methods.
Guidance for Conducting Tradeshow
Designate one team who will have overall control of all tradeshow intelligence
operations. This is your "War Room", responsible for getting through to the
information needed and coordinating the collection efforts of the tradeshow
intelligence. This team will direct the operation throughout, coordinating
intelligence collection, debriefing on what employees have learned, and analyzing
Designate four teams: Tradeshow Booth, Exposition HUMINT, Conference HUMINT,and
Counter-Intelligence. Each team will have a captain that reports to the War
Room staff for debriefing each day.
The Tradeshow Booth team gives information they have
heard and collected during the course of manning the tradeshow booth. The
team captain reports daily findings to the War Room during a daily debriefing.
The HUMINT-Exposition team collects intelligence from
the tradeshow exposition floor from competitors, competitors' competitors,
clients, competitor clients, market experts, industry and financial analysts
and others. The team captain reports daily findings to the War Room during
a daily debriefing.
The HUMINT-Conference team collects intelligence from
the tradeshow conference and seminars. Educational and training sessions
hosted by competitors, industry experts, and others are important for collection.
The team captain reports daily findings to the War Room during a daily
The Counter-Intelligence team should be corporate
intelligence or security personnel that are in charge of monitoring and
deflecting other companies' efforts to get information. This includes with
an effort to identify competitors' most aggressive collectors and training
booth personnel on how to temper giving too much information with not enough
to potential clients.
Start with two lists: What you need, and what you must protect. These lists
should be short and memorable - you don't want to distribute this information
through a lot of little, "losable," slips of paper. Ensure daily briefings
cover this information to company employees.
Establish a central point for the War Room. Ideally, this should be close
to the tradeshow facilities, such as a hotel room or suite. Daily debriefings
are important. Team captains should debrief their teams and collect all
information and present this to the War Room council at the daily debriefing
Train people in advance in the fine art of eliciting intelligence information,
ethics (you don't want a bevy of James Bonds), and inform them of what will
be expected of them. Make sure that they each understand that, while intelligence
collection is crucial, their involvement will be simple to understand and
easy to execute.
Debrief all company employees at the completion of the tradeshow on how the
effort went, what they learned, and methods to improve the process at future
Derek Johnson, Aurora's Executive Director of the Recon Research
& Analysis Bureau, comes from a strong financial background where he
learned to understand the implications of correctly reading and interpreting
a company's financial statements and using that understanding to make tough
But he also loves the "softer" metrics of competitiveness, like success in
product planning! And, as a member of PDMA, the Product Development and
Management Association, Derek explores how NPD best practices impact a firm's
A few months ago, Aurora sponsored a joint PDMA/SCIP meeting in Madison,
Wisconsin to explore the implications of Competitive Intelligence for New
Product Development. In this short essay, Derek gives us an overview of how
CI can have a profound impact on how new products get to market and why companies
must continually reinvent their product lines to stay ahead of the competition.