How Well Do You Know Your Audience?

Graphic: Digital Juice

Graphic: Digital Juice

Whether you’re a show organizer dealing with exhibitors or an exhibitor who is designing and working a booth, you’ve likely been guilty of assuming you know what people want.

Odds are … you were wrong.

Often we’re too myopic within our own businesses to see things from an outside perspective. For example, how do you even describe what your company does? Can you do it in a way that’s short, to-the-point, and easy to understand? If not, you’re not alone. Many organizations (whether shows or individual exhibitors) get caught up in corporate-speak, which doesn’t make sense to really anyone. And even if you’re speaking in plain English, you may not be covering the points that really hit home for your ideal clients.

Prefer to listen instead?
Just click the play button at the bottom of this entry!

Actually, let’s back up even a bit further. Do you know who your ideal client is? Can you describe them in great detail and outline all of their wish lists and pain points? If not, that’s the place to start – by creating what’s called a buyer persona. Once you’ve crafted that, you can begin to focus on what would resonate best for them, including what messaging to use, what to feature (or leave out), how to communicate with them, and more.

But how can you know all these things? It’s simple, really … ask them!

Whether you’re an exhibitor or show organizer, you can talk one-on-one with existing clients to find out more about their needs, wants and concerns, or you could do a survey. Just keep in mind that only a small percentage will likely fill it out, but they will be the most vocal ones at either end of the satisfaction spectrum. And don’t be afraid to ask what they’re complaining about, even if it may have to do with you!

When developing your buyer persona or profile, don’t use generic terms like “exhibitors in the XYZ industry.” Instead, get specific in your description (in this example, as a show manager defining your ideal exhibitor client):

  • Marketing manager at a company with more than one location
  • Generates annual revenues of more than $25 million
  • Looking to build a national presence and generate $1 million in new business over the coming year
  • Uses magazine advertising with some degree of success, but desires face-to-face exposure with a highly-qualified audience

Now you can really begin to craft marketing materials that speak to them, as well as designing special features at the show which will help fulfill their wish list.

Remember to use the words they would use, not marketing mumbo-jumbo. The idea is for them to read or hear your message and then say, “That’s me! That’s exactly what I’m facing. How can you help me?” Then they will be ready to listen to what you have to offer.

Want more tips on how to truly connect with your audience and communicate in their language? We’ll be focusing on this topic in June’s Strategy of the Month in the Exhibit Marketers Café.

© 2015 Marlys K. Arnold (from the May 2015 TradeShowTips Online. To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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Marlys Arnold

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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