First Step of Event Planning: Understand Your Event Target Audience
Dec 23, 2022 8:00:00 AM
When planning an event, it’s critical to define your target audience. Knowing your ideal attendee profile will enable you to identify the most effective promotion channels, select the right venue, retain attractive keynote speakers, and more. But how do you define your target audience and kickstart the event planning process? Is there a way to understand their buying behavior? How should you market to them? Find all the answers in this article!
Hosting an event is usually part of an overall marketing strategy and designed to support marketing goals such as identifying new marketable contacts, building sales pipeline, accelerating sales pipeline, expanding brand awareness, and more. Once you decide to host an event, you need to articulate how the event contributes to the marketing goal(s) and define metrics for the event’s success.
The best marketing strategies can’t afford to ignore the power of events, as they can be extremely effective. For an event to be successful, however, you must answer questions such as: “Who should I invite to the event to hit my metrics?” or “How can my event attract our ideal buyer personas?”
To better illustrate this, let’s use an example. Imagine that your goal is to attract and recruit new talent for the sales department. You will not achieve this goal if you target your event to school-age youth or to professional accountants. Instead, your audience should be composed of people who have experience in sales and are looking for a new job.
When you know who the right audience is, you’re able to promote the event more effectively – you can choose the right distribution and social media channels and adjust the tone of your marketing messages to resonate with this group. You can select an event venue that will suit their needs, i.e., location, logistics, decor, etc. Importantly, you can also build an agenda that will entice them to attend.
To properly identify your target audience, you should define:
Basic demographic data: What is the average age? What is the gender make-up? Where do they live? Use existing data in your CRM, market research data, LinkedIn, business directories, etc. for this purpose.
Interests and needs: Think about your ideal attendee’s job responsibilities. What is their professional day-to-day like? How is their performance measured? What are their challenges and how can you solve them? Understanding this will allow you to build the right event messaging and attract more registrants.
Habits and resources: Understand how your target audience searches for information. What publications do they read? What events other than yours do they attend? Do they rely on industry analysts, and if so, which ones? This information will be the basis for effective event campaigns.
In order to accurately define the target audience, use data from various sources. Look at analytics from LinkedIn and your website. Conduct market research and use the data collected from any previous events. Useful tools: Facebook Audience Insights, Google Analytics, and Eventory.
Once you understand your target audience, your event can begin to take shape.
Identifying your target audience’s demographics is critical and can help with your events audience engagement. For example, when it comes to venue selection, if your ideal audience is local professionals who typically don’t own a car, you will probably choose a nearby venue that is easy to reach by public transportation. On the other hand, if your ideal audience is distributed across the country or even worldwide, you may decide on a virtual venue or a venue located near popular hotels, train stations, and/or airports.
To get a complete picture of your target audience, you also need to understand their interests and needs. Let’s return to the recruitment event described earlier. In this instance, the attendees’ main purpose is likely to get a job or to do market research. But drill down further. What kind of job are they seeking? If you’re looking to attract sales professionals, you need to attract an audience with sales experience. Or if the positions for which you’re hiring are entry level, then you might be looking to attract an audience that would enjoy winning a difficult customer, feel comfortable getting paid by commission, etc. Understanding what drives your target audience is the key to building the right narrative around the event and creating relevant content, keeping your event audience engagement high. Speaking of the content…
First, answer the question: which channels does your target audience use to get information? Do they read the news, and if so, which publications? Where are they most active on social media - do they prefer Facebook or LinkedIn? Do they belong to industry groups, and if so, which ones? Answering these questions will help you build event campaigns that convert.
Consider that many events are triggers for users to share original content, described in our article, “How to use different types of user-generated content to enhance the storytelling of an employer branding event.” Skim through the user-generated content around an event similar to the one you are planning. The content’s tone, aesthetics, and publication channel(s) will tell you a lot about your target group’s habits and interests.
Finally, you also want to understand your event target audience’s purchasing habits. For example, should your registration page be optimized for mobile apps? What call to action works best - is your audience more inclined to respond to an offer for a registration discount or an offer for a free event planning e-book with registration? All of these elements will be important to optimize the pre-event experience of your target audience, and they are particularly critical if you are launching Eventory by 6Connex to create an event app.
You can acquire information about your target audience in a direct and indirect way. The direct way is to conduct a survey. This can be done via an interview or a poll. If you have used surveys and polls in the past to plan marketing activities for your target audience, be sure to also review those results.
You can also use indirect methods. For example, you can take advantage of numerous market studies, white papers, and reports and mine knowledge about various consumer and business groups.
Gathering as much information as possible about your target audience will help you create an effective event promotion plan, informing your selection of marketing lists and targeted ad groups, campaign content, and promotion channels.
Remind your event planning team: you’re seeking quality over quantity. To achieve your event goals, it’s better to invite fewer people who will really be interested in your event, than it is to invite many people, only a portion of whom will likely attend. Going back to our example of the recruiting event, it’s better to invite sales people with experience who are looking for a new job, rather than to invite a larger audience that includes marketing professionals, IT specialists, and product development experts. Only the first audience can yield a positive return on investment.
Just remember! When you're event planning, collect as much data as possible to inform future event strategies. Use platforms that automate the event data capture, analytics, and reporting processes so that you prove event success and identify sales and marketing opportunities.
Whether you're doing an in-person event, hybrid event, or virtual event, finding the right platform that tailors to your audiences needs is key. 6Connex offers engagement tools to help keep your audience engaged in-person or virtually. Our virtual event platform and event tech integrations can help provide an out of this world experience for you attendees. With sustainability in mind, our virtual event products can provide the experience your audience wants. Request a demo today to see what virtual event solution 6Connex can do for you.