Should our association event marketing mention our competitor’s event?

It wasn’t too long ago that most associations seemed to have the only relevant show for certain industries. But it is more common today to have significant competition for your association’s event from other associations or for-profit organizations.

Given this competitive environment, whether or not to mention your association’s competition for purposes of comparison is a fair question. When evaluating your options, be sure to consider the following:

– Is your association’s event larger or smaller than the competition’s?
– Has your association’s event been growing? What about the competition’s event?
– Do you have evidence or believe that your association’s event is being hurt by your competition?
– Does your association’s event have clear, significant advantages versus your competition?
– Is your association’s event focused on the same target audience and topics as your competition?

Based on your evaluation of these questions, you may consider the following actions:

– If your association’s event is larger and not being hurt, don’t mention your competition. You would only be giving them free advertising.
– If your association’s event is being hurt by your competition, and you have significant advantages, you may wish to mention them as part of the generic “other show” category as you point out your advantages.
– If your association’s event is being hurt by your competition, but you have no significant advantages, don’t mention your competition.
– If your association’s event targets different audiences and topics, you shouldn’t be getting hurt. If you believe you are, then that would call into question your event’s focus (which is a topic for another time).

Generally speaking, there are few times it pays for your association to mention your competition. The exception to the above rules may be that if you are the upstart competition, then mentioning your competition may provide a nice halo effect for your own event. Even then, tread carefully. Strong brands are more about establishing your own benefits than comparing yourself to others.

Is your association event or trade show facing stiff competition? How have you dealt with this threat to your association’s event?

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