Maybe your goal is to attract as many participants, from as many demographics, as possible. After all, hundreds of attendees translate into thousands of dollars, and everyone loves a strong revenue stream. Right?
“When you create education sessions for everyone about everything, you can’t go deep into the issues and challenges that your audience craves,” he said. “You miss the opportunity to create programming that participants feel was prepared just for them, and ultimately, your conference programming becomes generic. It’s vague and feels like wet, soft, mushy Melba toast.”
So instead, take a lesson from successful marketers. The golden rule of marketing is to identify your target audiences, which are the groups of people who are most interested in your product or services. They’re also the most engaged in your messaging and marketing efforts.
A good example: education tracks. Segmenting sessions into audiences – administrators, planners and vendors, for instance – allows you to cater to specific needs. So when another need arises, these grateful participants may turn to you for business, membership and additional educational opportunities.
At the same time, it’s a good idea to keep vendors’ interests in mind.
Hurt said some associations with significant tradeshows make 60 to 70 percent of their revenue from exhibit booth sales, while another 10 to 20 percent of revenue comes from sponsorships and advertising. According to Hurt, usually exhibitors want: qualified leads; face-to-face time with purchasers, decision makers and budget officers; and the opportunity to bond with current clients.
“If you see your conference audience as a homogenous, faceless clump of people, you’ll have a hard time selling them as the right audience for your exhibitors and sponsors,” he said. “Instead, think of them as a long line of individuals waiting to have a conversation with you. Do you want to talk to every one of them? Or do you want to seek out the individuals who have the authority and responsibility to purchase products and services for their organizations?”
In short, target audiences at conferences and expos should comprise those groups that are most important to your exhibitors and sponsors. Once you determine those audiences, focus on their needs when developing educational content and choosing speakers.
In other words: You’ll generate the most revenue when you determine which customers will have the greatest impact on your exhibitors and sponsors.
A little market research will go a long way when planning your conferences and events, so for starters, pick up a good marketing book to learn more about target audiences.
Make sense? How do you meet the needs of your target audiences?