Uncovering competitive innovation at conferences

by | Aug 31, 2021

Fall is just around the corner, which means that Conference Season is too! And while the world continues navigating Covid-19, industries are meeting virtually and in person to share thought leadership, innovation, and more.

At HelloInfo, we are looking forward to meeting new clients and showcasing our talents next at the WBE 2021 conference, called “Moving Forward Together: Driving Change Through Supplier Diversity.” Our clients have their sights set on events such as Reuter’s Pharma 2021,  InsureTech Connect, IoT World, and CES 2022. And for every company attending an industry-specific conference, there are specific goals set forth to justify the expense of attendance.

The goals of conference attendance

The most common conference goals that we see our clients working toward include:

  • Networking with companies and peers in your value chain
  • Scheduling meetings with prospective vendors to discuss potential for partnership
  • Sitting in on key presentations by industry thought leaders
  • Participating in breakout sessions to dig in deep on core learning opportunities
  • Presenting in keynotes, fireside chats, or breakout sessions to share knowledge
  • Raising awareness and increasing business through corporate exhibition booths

A lesser-known, less-common conference goal that isn’t discussed publicly very often is the objective of obtaining competitive intelligence at conferences. But we all do it, right? We look to see where our competitor’s booth is in relation to ours, and where their booth is located in relation to the overall foot traffic flows. We walk by a couple of times to see what kind of marketing collateral they are handing out, and to see how busy their booth is. Sometimes we even stop and say Hello to old friends who are now working for competing organizations. Maybe we attend a competitor’s conference presentation, looking for clues about how busy they are, who their clients are, or if they are coming out with new products.

Taking conference competitive intelligence to the next level

At HelloInfo, we take our clients’ conference competitive intelligence efforts much, much further, and support with on-the-ground participation in lieu of, or alongside our client’s attendance. Are your travel budgets slashed but you still need insights? Are you too slammed to take three days out of your schedule to join in? We can attend for you and report back. Would you like us to attend the conference with you and support a “divide-and-conquer” approach? We’ll be there.

Clients deploy HelloInfo team members to conferences in situations when they themselves are not able to be there, or if they need individuals not affiliated directly with their company to gather insights. When we do so, we are able to access sessions, individuals, and sensitive information that is not readily accessible by our clients. By attending conferences as ourselves, we can chat with competitors, attend small-group sessions, or even schedule networking meetings with individuals that our clients may not be able to.

What competitive intelligence tasks can HelloInfo accomplish at a conference?

For every conference that HelloInfo attends on behalf of a client, the task list changes. Some of our more commonly requested tasks include:

  • Attend competitive presentations –Your HelloInfo team will attend sessions run by your competitors to take pictures and detailed notes of what was shared.
  • Ask questions in competitive sessions – Secondary to our attendance at competitive presentations, we are often asked to probe competitors on potentially sensitive topics to see what kind of answers a key player will give us. In these instances, we are often asking for details or clarification on rumors that may be circulating in your industry.
  • Provide (almost) real-time conference updates – At the end of each day, HelloInfo team members provide clients with a “brief” from the day’s sessions, detailing what sessions were attended, who was spoken to, and what intelligence was discovered. Some clients prefer to receive email updates throughout the day, and we can do that too!
  • Have targeted conversations with competitors – Perhaps it is not appropriate for us to ask competitors questions in a public forum, and insights are better obtained one-on-one, or with a very specific member of the competitive organization. Your HelloInfo conference team can work to gain access to specific members of competitive organizations to discuss key questions with them.
  • Have targeted conversations with potential partners – Is your company considering an industry partnership, but have not yet identified the best candidate? Your HelloInfo conference team can hold anonymous conversations with potential partners to understand whether they might be interested, and gain access to insights on how your company may be able to take conversations further.
  • Share attendee/speaker lists – Clients often want to know exactly who attends specific events and in what capacity, as this often can signal competitive intentions and can be clues to innovations or business deals that may be in the works.
  • Take pictures of competitive collateral – This could be conference booth presence, posters being presented, innovations on display, marketing materials, and more.
  • Look for potential recruitment candidates – Is your company looking to hire for roles that may be represented at an industry conference? HelloInfo can work with conference attendees and have initial conversations to potentially identify individuals that may be prime for recruitment.

This list represents only some of our more common goals when we attend conferences for our clients; every industry and every conference present a unique opportunity for HelloInfo to help gather intelligence to be used by your specific organization. This article lays out other activities that can be conducted before, during, and after a conference to make sure that the most impactful competitive intelligence can be extracted from the event.

But Covid-19 is still dragging on – where do we go from here?

The 2021/2022 conference landscape will surely continue to be a hybrid showcase, with some gatherings happening in person, and some remaining virtual for another year. Regardless of the venue, HelloInfo can join, participate, and add value to your organization’s competitive intelligence efforts in an approachably priced way. Schedule a meeting with us to chat about how we can help support you in this exciting initiative.

Hoping to see you all on a conference floor sometime soon!  

Keep reading…