Who are the customers for your conference?
Yes, I said customers – plural. You have more than one customer. Most of us think of our conference customers as the paid registrants.
Instead, we need to think of our customers as anyone who can say no.
So who are the customers of your conference?
Paid registrants? Yes.
Exhibitors? Yes, especially if you offer a tradeshow.
Each of these customer segments has different needs, wants and pain points. Without paid registrants, you really can’t attract exhibitors or sponsors. Your exhibitors and sponsors want to reach a specific type of conference registrant: a qualified buyer. So attracting the right conference registrant should be a primary concern.
Getting To Know Them
You have to know your customers.
You have to know what to sell, whom to sell and when to sell. You have to segment your market, looking at your services from your customers’ point of view.
In order to grow your conference, you have to get better at segmenting your market.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the top three market segments for registration for my conference?
- Which segments have the most potential for growth?
- Which segments have the most qualified, economic buyers that will attract exhibitors and sponsors?
- What are the pain points, needs and wants of those top three segments?
Once you have the top three segments identified, then you design content and experiences to attract them.
Identifying The Economic Buyer
Ultimately, you, your exhibitors and your sponsors want the most qualified, economic buyers at your event.
An economic buyer is the one who has his/her own budget and discretion to purchase something. They are the true buyer. Their title may not align with their authority, so don’t get hung up on titles.
Sometimes you have to go through a feasibility buyer to get to the economic buyer. Some people call these individuals gatekeepers. These people control access to the economic buyer. Sometimes they are tasked to evaluate all prospective offers. The feasibility buyer can say no but they can’t say yes.
Selling A Conference Experience
Selling a conference experience is really selling something intangible. You are marketing what the conference participant can receive to help their professional or personal life. You’re selling a concept. And selling a concept is different than selling a product.
The easiest conference sales occur in an atmosphere of need. When your conference experience offers relevant takeaways that align with your customers’ biggest pain points, the sale is easier.
The challenge conference organizers have is that securing content nine to 12 months in advance means that it may no longer align with a customer’s pain points. Their need has probably changed.
The toughest conference sales occur when a potential registrant doesn’t perceive a need. So it’s better to design conference experiences that sells something that a potential customer will perceive will help them.
What tips do you have in identifying the top three market segments for your conference experience? How can conference organizers attract more qualified buyers?
Michele Price says
Jeff I love how you put things into threes. Interestingly enough, conferences like businesses tend to sometimes forget whose needs they are solving, then focus on fulfilling their own needs first.
Great questions to pass along every conference you want to attend or want them to “straighten up.’
Jeff Hurt says
Thanks for reading and commenting…always greatly appreciated. I like what you said, “Conferences like businesses tend to…forget whose needs they are solving.” So true, so true!
Eloquently stated! I totally agree with you that the conference organizers need an understanding of what they do well and the ability to articulate that. It’s all about conference hosts offering their best and highest use to their attendees.
Thanks for reading and commenting too.
Jim Kelley says
You bring up some great points…in reading this it reminds me that a “quality” based approached is always more sustainable then a “quantity” based approach. The irony is that understanding your stakeholder base and driving your activity towards them with a quality based approach creates a by product of acheiving a good quantity of acitvity by going deeper and wider. In order to attract the right buyers, you have to have a deep understanding of what you do well and just as important the honesty & courage to articulate what you don’t do well. This will help insure that you don’t attract the wrong people who in turn become frustrated and express their frustration forcing you to respond taking energy, resources and time that can be better utilized.
Jody urquhart says
Great post Jeff
I think each segment does have unique needs. Great to segment and market to each. It seems like most event focus most on delegates
Jeff Hurt says
I agree. Most event organizers use a one size fits all approach to their planning and marketing. Thanks for reading and commenting too.