Why (And How) to Develop Personas Before Your Next Trade Show

November 1, 2016

81% – that’s how many trade show attendees have buying authority. That means 4 out of 5 people walking around the show could be your next customer. Good news, right?

Actually, it’s only good news if you’ve devised an effective trade show strategy that both attracts people to your booth, and makes them fall in love with your brand. Otherwise, they will pass on by, looking for another brand with another booth and another solution to their problem.

A common mistake trade show marketers make is making assumptions about their potential customers, without getting to know who they really are and what they’re really looking for. And typically, these are trade show exhibits that get ignored by the trade show attendees.

Enter, the buyer persona.

A valuable tool for marketers of all kinds, buyer personas are portraits of your ideal customers. They document their pain points, preferred forms of media consumption, and other detailed information that will help you tailor your trade show approach to those 81% of attendees you want at your exhibit.

In short, you should develop buyer personas before your next trade show. And here’s how to do it.

The components of a successful buyer persona

Buyer personas include several key pieces of information that will create a cohesive image of your target customer. It’s critical information to develop a trade show strategy for all members of your team: sales, marketing, and even your exhibit designers. Most successful personas include the following:

  • Basic biographical information, including a fictionalized name, age, gender, education level, salary, job title, and a brief description of a “day-in-the-life” of the persona
  • Goals and pain points
  • Common objectives to your product or service
  • Preferred media sources
  • Desired method of communication
  • Responsibilities and priorities

Each of these elements can be modified and tailored to your specific industry. You should aim to get the most useful information to inform how you market and sell to your audience at your upcoming trade show.

Here’s how to research your personas

The greatest buyer personas are a combination of primary and secondary research. They include all assessments of your brand, regardless if they’re positive or negative. This information is critical to have before stepping foot on the trade show floor. After all, one of the primary benefits of exhibiting is its face-to-face experience with potential customers. Having the deepest understanding of your audience will help both your sales and marketing teams communicate with these people in the most effective way possible.

To help you uncover this data, research using the following methods:

Current customers

If possible, conduct interviews with or send out surveys to your current customers. Since they are already familiar with your brand, they can provide a unique and valuable perspective. Make sure to reach out to customers that speak highly of your brand, as well as ones that are frustrated with your product or service. You may be able to uncover some pain points that you could actively address at your trade show.

Preexisting databases

Whether through a third party system or with your own data, you can mine databases for real, concrete information to inform your personas. This data can include both current and potential customers. Find out where they’re consuming media, what types of media they are consuming, and what demographics they fall under.

Social media

Social media is a free and unique way to uncover both basic information about your potential customers, as well as what type of content they like to consume. Especially if you’re a B2B marketer, LinkedIn is a particularly excellent resource to accomplish this research.

Put it into practice

Congratulations! You’ve now got beautiful, detailed, and accurate personas of your ideal customer. Now, use the information you’ve acquired in building your personas to inform both the design of your exhibit, as well as the content that you’re serving at your booth.

For example, if one of your target consumers is a young, digital-friendly buyer that is skeptical of being directly marketed to, consider integrating an interactive game into your exhibit. It could help break the ice as well as develop a level of trust between brand and consumer, making the prospect more likely leave his or her contact information.

After you’ve captured the lead, you can also integrate dynamic surveys at your booth to help filter or prequalify booth attendees. Then, as you continue to stay in touch with them throughout the buyer’s journey, also continue to garner additional information from your leads. It will help you serve relevant content that will help turn them into loving, loyal customers.

Developing personas can be tough work, but it’s tough work that pays off. See how a tailored trade show exhibit can come to life by checking out some of the work we’ve done for our clients in the past: our work.