Clearly define your audience and the larger community. Find out where they hang out online, what magazines they read, what associations they are part of, what other events they attend, what they need to hear about etc.
This is probably the first text book step in the conference marketing process. But going above and beyond will help your event succeed. When discussing the audience for conferences at IQPC I always focus on two key factors:
Most B2B conference marketers have the basic demographic for the primary market including Job Title (department/function/seniority), Industry, Geography. Some will even go one more step and research what associations and magazines the audience reads. Both of these items are the minimum requirements, in my opinion.
If you really want to qualify your audience and get the maximum return you also need to:
- Review your past attendees to similar events, does it match the target. If not why not?
- Define the outliers/lurkers; Engaging these people will be critical to exceeding your targets
- Create customer profiles on key segments – Learn a lot more about the top 20% of your audience. Education, Experience, Memberships, What they read, what groups they are part of in linked in, anything you can pick up will help give you a frame of reference for your communications.
- Review the audience using the product life cycle analysis
- Look at how other similar events define their audience, what tone do they speak in, how do they communicate etc.
- It’s also a good idea to look to the industry leading solution providers, ask them how they define their audience.
This is perhaps the most important step, and often overlooked in marketing conferences. If you can definitively quantify your audience size, you can choose the appropriate mix of marketing channels and the distribution/frequency you need. There are to key elements to quantify your audience:
- Breadth – How many industries are involved, including the primary, tertiary and suppliers. How many companies in each group.
- Depth – How many job titles, depts., or functions from each company are involved?
This information can often be found online, in trade publications or just doing a search on linked in. It doesn’t have to be 100% accurate, but get a feel. What’s the point of send 100,000 emails if your target audience is only 500 people?
One other key point on target audience – Visualize! As I pointed out in this post (7 habits of highly effective marketing managers) starting with the end in mind is key. So visualize you conference room on the day, how many people are in there, what do they look like, what companies do they represent.
To borrow an analogy, if you want to fish where the fishes are, you need to know what the fish looks like, where it lives and how it behaves. Another useful concept is the use of buyer personas as outlined in David Meerman Scotts book the new rules of marketing and PR, create a persona for each group of attendees it will also help later in tailoring your communication strategy.
Any other useful hints?