The concept of buyer personas has only been defined since 2002. The practice of building a model representation of a typical buyer, defining their goals, understanding what drives their behavior, and how, when and why they buy is an incredibly valuable tool for marketers especially in the digital age. We create content based upon an informed understanding of who our buyer is and where she is on her buying journey.
How committed is she to finding a solution to her problem?
Has she created a short list of potential solutions and searching for information to help her differentiate and prioritize alternatives?
As marketers, we can then create content designed to help answer the questions our buyers face along their journey and we make that content available when and where they are likely to be looking for answers.
What about Face-to-Face Marketing?
Buyer personas are a proven part of successful content marketing. Just run a web search on “buyer personas in content marketing” and you’ll get over 6 million results. But I believe personas should have a starring role in face-to-face marketing, too. We are a people-centric industry, and it’s time we actively worked to understand customer behavior in order to best serve them.
In my over 20 years in business-to-business marketing, I’ve attended more than fifty trade shows both as an exhibitor and as an attendee across a wide variety of industries, from an oil and gas industry show in Houston, TX to the National Catholic Educators Association in Toronto, Canada. Early in my career, I didn’t know about buyer personas nor did I implement sophisticated engagement techniques. I just sent out a simple pre-show mailer “Come Visit Us at Booth # ___” and had a simple pop-up stand, table skirt, signage, fish bowl to collect business cards, sample product (or demo software) and literature. I hoped people would stop by and talk to me. I’m happy to say my strategies, objectives and approaches have advanced significantly since those early days.
The other thing that has advanced since those early days is my understanding and anticipation of buyer behavior and how to apply that knowledge to my trade show planning. And that planning includes the development of the buyer personas most likely to visit our booth.
Here are some ways to start forming personas:
- Understand attendee demographics like industry, title, and purchase authority by consulting resources like the Conference Exhibitor Guide.
- Interview show organizers for deeper insights into attendee behavior and preferences.
- Contact your sales partners for information about the visitors they have spoken with at prior year shows and the nature of those conversations and any pain points raised by visitors.
- Find a colleague at another company who has exhibited at the same show you plan to attend for their perspective.
Armed with this information, you and your team can develop buyer personas for your next trade show. With those personas in hand, your pre-show marketing activities will perform more effectively, your messaging will be more on-point, and your sales people will be better prepared to handle the inquiries they are likely to encounter on the show floor.
It’s true that knowledge is power. In this case the more you know, the better your approach will be when it comes to attending the best trade shows that will resonate with your audience.