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?