Know Thine Audience: 5 Ways to Make Sure You’re Targeting the Right Attendees

men sit on couches in front of whiteboard and man standing

One of the most important parts of event planning is getting the guest list right. Whether it’s a corporate banquet, a trade show, or an employee training session, it’s vital to make sure the right people are in attendance. But when you’re putting the guest list together, how do you know you’re targeting the people who need to be there?

Why It’s Crucial to Know Who Your Attendees Are

The saying “know your audience” is one that’s oft repeated but, unfortunately, not as well understood.

Event planning and marketing involves a significant amount of planning and preparation, plus a substantial financial outlay. Even small events can require a big chunk of time and money. And that’s why understanding your target audience is so important. Events cost time and money; the audience is what makes that expenditure pay off. If the audience doesn’t respond to your event in ways that further your event goals and objectives, then the expenditure is wasted.

In real terms, what does it mean if the wrong audience shows up to an event? At a trade show, for instance, it might mean:

  • Sponsors/exhibitors and other backers don’t meet their event goals, like getting the number of leads or sales they expected
  • Event attendees don’t find any value in the event, like solutions to the problems they came in with, new networking connections, or new knowledge.
  • Sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees feel they wasted time and money on an event that didn’t deliver.
  • A low event ROI, few satisfied participants, and a round of poor publicity

And that’s not all. What happens the following year, after the previous year’s disaster?

  • Sponsors and exhibitors aren’t interested in returning to your event. Thanks to word of mouth and poor publicity, it’s harder to sell booth space to new exhibitors.
  • Attendee registration figures are low.
  • There’s less interest from speakers and presenters, making it harder to schedule valuable event content.

Simply put, if an event doesn’t bring together the right mix of content and attendees, it’s a bust. A successful event is one that meets its objectives and goals. For that to happen, the people who attend must be able to meet their goals. And for that to happen, the gathering needs to target the right audience in the first place.

The better a fit the audience is, the higher the event ROI. That goes for everyone, no matter what side of the equation they’re on.

people sit around conference table in front of computer and whiteboard

5 Easy Ways to Get to Know Your Audience

In order to target the key audience of people you want at an event, you first have to figure out who they are. You need to know as much about them as possible because this data will inform not just your marketing campaign, but also the kind of content your event needs in order to entice them to attend. What kinds of strategies can help you know and understand your audience?

1. Use Demographic Profiling

The objective of demographic profiling is to define, as accurately as possible, who your target audience is. By narrowing down the demographic characteristics of your audience, you get a feel for who they are and what they want, as it relates to your event.

This kind of tailoring is important not just because it helps you define your event audience, but also because it tells you who to focus your advertising campaign on. After all, there’s no point in wasting advertising budget on people who aren’t likely to attend the event.

Some demographic characteristics that could be important to your corporate event include:

  • Age
  • Gender – It’s not always relevant, but in an industry that skews toward a particular gender, it may be significant information.
  • Industry
  • Employer
  • Size of employer
  • Occupation/job title/salary
  • Career level – Are they an entry level worker? A manager? If they’re a manager, what size team are they working with?
  • Location – Particularly important for a local or small national event

This is all potentially useful information because it helps you build a portrait of your ideal event attendee. When you know what kind of people you want to target, you can then work on event marketing—meeting people where they are—and start planning event content. For instance, if you’re targeting people in middle-management positions in a specific industry, what problems do they have that they need help solving? What content might they be interested in?

2. Check Out Your Competitors

Your own research and demographic profiling provide the most important data, but your closest competitors may offer some valuable insights too. Check out the websites and marketing campaigns of those competitors that have the same target audience, focusing on those with a larger market share. Look at their:

  • Brand messaging
  • Voice and tone
  • Marketing strategies
  • Other elements of advertising

What are they doing wrong, and what are they doing right? More importantly, can you glean any insights or borrow any tactics that might help you reach your audience more effectively?

3. Monitor Social Media

If you’re running social media accounts, comments and other forms of engagement can provide plenty of valuable information. What kinds of content makes people respond most enthusiastically? What topics are they most interested in, and what information do they value? Over time, you can learn a lot about your audience, and what kinds of messaging most appeal to them.

Not sure what they want to hear about? Ask them! Using a poll can be useful on Facebook and Instagram as well.

4. Send Out a Survey

The most straightforward way to learn more about your audience is to simply ask them about themselves. Surveys with well-chosen questions can provide extremely useful data because it’s coming directly from the audience in which you’re interested. Offer a perk to those who complete the survey to increase your response rate and gain as much information as possible. One benefit of this approach allows you to get both demographic data and deeper insights at the same time. It also allows you to determine what differences exist in your various audience segments; for instance, between those people who subscribe to an email newsletter, who are current customers or clients, and who follow you on social media.

The Best Pre-Event Survey

5. Talk to Clients and Customers

When it’s both appropriate and feasible to do so, talking directly to clients and customers can provide you with valuable information too. While this approach doesn’t give you broad demographic data, it can inform you of some of their unique concerns. Gathering this kind of information can help you develop content that’s interesting to the audience you’re hoping to attract to an event.

A Successful Event Starts with the Right Audience

The success of any event hinges on making sure the right people are in attendance. And for that to happen, you must know your audience. By learning relevant information about their likes and preferences, you can plan for an event they’ll want to attend.

Ivan Fujihara

Chief Financial Officer

Ivan brings 25+ years in senior level management experience from a variety of technology industries.  His background includes accounting management, analytics and audit management for technology companies.  He has worked with companies such as THX, Ltd, Recruitology , Double Click, Creative Labs and more.  Ivan has also served on the board of Lincoln Families, a non-profit that supports East Bay children with the objective of disrupting the cycle of trauma and poverty.

Matt Rulis

Vice President of Sales

Matt is a marketing professional and has been managing marketing strategies, campaigns and environments for a diverse client base for over 15 years. From a service perspective, Matt and his team of Account Executives focus on fostering relationships to uphold a greater than 99% customer satisfaction rating year-over-year. Additionally, with extensive experience on the client-side of the industry, he understands that alignment between expectation and budget is paramount to a successful project. As a result, ProGlobalEvents' clients can expect a competitive advantage paired with top quality products and services. Matt is an avid fly-fisherman, enjoys most outdoor activities and is a true college football fanatic.

Tom Foley

VP of Operations

Heading the fabrication side of ProGlobalEvents is exhibit and event industry veteran, Tom Foley. For over 35 years he has been responsible for building amazing exhibits and environments for clients. Tom started out in the production area and has broad experience in project and operations management. He currently oversees production, warehouse, graphics and project management departments. Tom studied machine tool technology and welding before entering the industry. As a true "builder" he also enjoys restoring and modifying classic American cars.

Dick Wheeler

President

Dick serves as President of ProGlobalEvents and President of ProExhibits and is a board member of CEMA (Corporate Event Marketing Association). At ProExhibits he has been nationally recognized as an innovator and driving force in the fast-growing trade show exhibit and event industry. Under his leadership in 1997, the firm received INC magazine’s INC 500 award as one of America’s fastest-growing companies. His informative articles on developments and innovations in the trade show exhibit and event industry have appeared in national trade publications. Dick has a B.S. degree from Wittemore School of Business & Economics at the University of New Hampshire and has completed the Entrepreneurial Executive Leadership Program sponsored by MIT, YEO and INC. He is actively involved in Vistage, an interactive group of over 20,000 CEO’s and presidents worldwide and is a member of CEMA and EDPA.

Jack Connolly

Creative Director

As an experiential creative director, Jack prefers to draw outside the lines. He tells stories with original content and impactful design to ignite meaningful conversation.

 

Jack brings 20 years of event industry knowledge to ProGlobalEvents. He specializes in building live & virtual platforms for audiences to connect, engage and immerse themselves in the power of a shared experience. His skills range from ideation and concept development to defining an attendee journey through storytelling and design.

Jack understands the creative process is not linear, but a collaborative process between agency and client. He manages teams of designers and technology developers to pioneer impactful brand experiences. His diverse skillset and leadership ensure for award-winning results and memorable impressions.

 

In 2019, BizBash named Jack one of the top event designers in North America. SXSW awarded his work the “People’s Choice in Innovation” in 2021.

Jody Tatro

Chief Executive Officer

In addition to being CEO of ProGlobalEvents, Jody is also the CEO of ProExhibits. With Jody at the helm, the company has been recognized repeatedly as one of the Top 50 Women Owned Businesses in Silicon Valley. She has set the outstanding client service standards for which the firm’s account management team is noted. Jody is a recipient of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Award, the Junior League Community Volunteer Award and is listed in Who’s Who of Women in Business. Following her graduation from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Jody held various sales positions in several technology companies.

Paul Miller

Chief Marketing Officer

Having served in a number of executive roles for companies in Silicon Valley for over 25 years, Paul has a client-side perspective of the corporate events industry. He has a broad set of experiences working for startups as well as global firms such as Applied Materials. At ProGlobalEvents, Paul helps the company to reach clients through traditional and digital marketing programs. With an extensive background in the High Tech sector, he’s also involved with technology strategy both internally and for clients. Paul is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, the Stanford Engineering Design School and Claremont McKenna College. In his spare time he is a also a principal member of the non-profit Gratitude Network which mentors award winning social entrepreneurs.