Know Your Audience

Would you ever plan a seated dinner for a 2 year old birthday party? What about a tea party for IT executives?

Sure, these are extreme examples that planners like you obviously would never consider, but I’m surprised at how often we forget to pause and get into the minds and hearts of the people who we’re planning for.

This makes the difference between connecting with your audience and missing the mark, wasting your precious planning time and budget.

What is a Target Audience?

A target audience is the demographic of people most likely to be interested in a your product, service, content, or event. If you work for a wedding planner and are hosting a promotional event to make your company’s flair known to the surrounding area, your target audience will likely be as simple as men and women in their late twenties and early thirties.

Below are some questions if you’re struggling to determine your target audience, or helping a client identify them:

  • What age is your target demographic?

  • What region are they from?

  • What are they passionate about?

There are many more questions, but these three apply to any demographic.

Plan their journey

When thinking through how you’re going to allocate space planning for your event, many of us immediately think tactics rather than strategy. We slot programming in where it fits our diagrams best, without pausing to consider the flow of how an attendee will move through the day.

When you begin by thinking through the attendee journey, you may do a bit more legwork upfront, but ultimately it will pay off because they will be drawn to the things you want them to see and do rather than passively navigating through the space and potentially missing specific areas you’ve planned.

  • Plan meals strategically so attendees have to walk through a demo or sponsor area you want them to see in order to get food

  • Consider lines - what spaces will end up having the most traffic - if there will be people waiting in line, what can you offer to capture their attention or offer them some delight while they’re captive?

  • Consider the arrival - how are attendees arriving at your event? Think through navigation issues that could occur if, say, there’ snot a clear ride-share drop off location, or if guests tend to get dropped off at the wrong entrance to your event.

Attendees show up when they want to show up:

One thing that always fascinates me is how different types of attendees tend to have specific qualities including how early or late they arrive at an event.

Our developer audiences tend to arrive hours before a keynote and will line up outside the venue waiting to get a prime seat. However, our corporate audiences tend to show up just 5 minutes before keynote starts. And I’ll never forget, when I used to plan EDU events, our teachers would arrive even before the published time on the agenda!

  • For the early birds who will line up outside your conference in droves, consider thinking ahead and investing in coffee and donut carts! Not only will you please these devoted fans of your brand, but it’s probably cheaper than serving the venue’s food and this will help your buffets from getting hit hard all at once when doors open.

  • When you know attendees tend to show up late, plan buffer time into your agenda, so you can let keynote start late and run a bit long without throwing off the rest of your day’s schedule. Also message that reserved seats will be released 15 minutes prior to the event to make sure people get there in time for you to fill your room or backfill any reserved sections.

  • If you know you’ll have guests who arrive before doors open, tell your caterer they need to be set a full hour early and/or have a clear location at your venue or off property to usher these early guests to wait until the appropriate time.

The Power Of Knowing Your Audience

By putting yourself in your attendee’s shoes, you’ll not only be able to anticipate their needs, you’ll be able to strategically plan their journey through your event so they see / do and feel the things you want them to.

It’s a win/win!