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Creating Customer Profiles

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A.  The Value of Creating a Customer Profile


Much has been written about the importance of a good customer profile yet many exhibitors seem reluctant to take the time to create one. This article, which is the first of two parts, addresses the problem. Here we will look at the reasons a customer profile will enhance your exhibit program. In next month's article I will show you the in's and out's of creating a meaningful profile.

The five top reasons to create a Customer Profile:

1. It's good marketing

  The focus of a good marketing plan identifies the people who will ultimately use a product or service and who will be most receptive to your marketing message. This seems pretty basic, but all too often the hard work done by the marketing department gets lost in the shuffle when it's time to take the product or service to market through an exhibition. This creates a number of problems for the exhibit manager:

a. The selection of shows

Many shows do not provide reliable third-party generated attendance information. The information an exhibit manager gets is often sketchy resulting in the selection process being relegated to guess-work. Many shows are chosen because of the size of the show, its reputation in the industry or competitor presence rather on the quality of the attendee. Exhibit managers are often left selecting a show on gross numbers rather than to ascertain if the right people are in attendance in the right numbers by comparing the attendee profile and the company customer profile.

In addition the longer the company stays with a particular show, the less likely they are to question its relevance to a specific market.

  b. The process of goal setting
  A well-positioned exhibiting goal, whether it is to generate leads or introduce a brand should include a definition for quality leads. Quality means understanding that not all attendees are equal and only those who fall within the parameters of a well-defined customer profile are of high value.
  c The exhibit manager's role
  Without a clear understanding of the customer profile, the exhibit manager's role is only tactical (booking space, hiring the services, and arrange for shipping of the booth). The exhibit manager's strategic role comes into play as part of the overall corporate plans with an understanding of the customer's profile.

2. It helps focus your exhibit planning


Have you ever watched a commercial on television and wondered who would respond to that type of advertising. If it didn't appeal to you then perhaps you do not fit into the profile that this advertiser was targeting. The same principle holds true in a trade show booth. Signs, messages, graphics and products all must be chosen to attract the attention of the person who fits your profile because each group has certain psychological triggers such as lifestyle, workplace interests, technology and so on. Finding the right triggers and being able to interpolate these into a three-dimensional display is a good rationale for creating a customer profile

3. It helps focus your exhibit staff

  When you review the break-down of the show attendees in all likelihood you will conclude that your customer profile does not fit the entire audience. Yet, often booth staff succumb to the deadly temptation of trying to talk to everyone. The customer profile is not an attempt to exclude certain people from engagement, rather the profile acts as a compass to keep booth discussions pointed in the right direction with the right people.

4. It allows you to create customer engagement

  Understanding your customer means learning their perspective on the solutions they are seeking. Your marketing department has already created a list of features and benefits for the product or service you are offering. Now you and your exhibit staff can create questions that will uncover which features and benefits will be of most interest to a particular booth visitor. By being able to engage the customer in the elements that are most important to them, the time you spend together becomes more meaningful and leaves the customer with a positive feeling about the visit. Understanding the customer's perspective also opens the door to cross-promotion possibilities for other products or services your company offers.

5. Learn the most appropriate methods of follow-up


n most cases, actual business will not be written at the show which means that a proactive follow-up plan must be in place. Your follow-up must be timely and appropriate. Leaving follow-up in the hands of your customer is a recipe for disaster. Timely because the longer you leave a post show contact the greater the tendency for the customer's initial excitement to dissipate. Appropriate because no two people have the same set of likes and dislikes about follow-up.

Some will want you to communicate electronically through e-mail or text, others will want a formal proposal in writing yet others will want a personal visit. Understanding your customer will lead you naturally to the question about personal preferences in follow-up.



B.  The Value of Creating a Customer Profile

Do you know your customer? I don't mean whether their name is Antonio or Jessica, but rather, do you understand who they are as people and what motivates them?

For many marketers this presents a major dilemma. They mistakenly assume that their product, service or program has broad appeal and that creating a customer profile will limit the scope of their marketing reach. Some assume that their potential customers may not know that they have a need and all it takes is a bit of persuasion. Others assume that the product is a one of a kind with a wide appeal. So the first step is to define your customer - the person who will buy, recommend or authorize the budget for your product or service.

This may sound like a broad approach but upon closer examination you see that the person you are targeting has identified a problem and is actively searching for a solution either fro their company or themselves.

Next ask what information you need in order to identify this person. The answer is uncovered when you use four basic marketing tools: demographics, psychographics, behavioural and causation data.

Demographics answer the question, "Who is my customer?" It is an analysis of all the pertinent data that defines the characteristics of your customer. Demographics enable you to segment your overall customer base into helpful categories.

In a business-to-customer example, you may define your customer demographics in the following terms: age, income, gender, geography, profession, education, wealth, family makeup, nationality, homeowner/renter, etc. For business-to-business focus the demographics qualifiers may include: size of company, type of products sold, revenue, budget, number of employees, number of branches, ownership, industry, industry sector, age, and so on.

Psychographics answer the question, "What do they do?" This is a chance to examine your target audience's attitudes, beliefs, and emotions. The following are samples of psychographic variables in the business-to-customer marketplace: family stage, hobbies, status awareness, outside interests, leisure time, social responsibility, lifestyle, charitable affiliations, etc. In the business-to-business marketplace, psychographic elements include: social responsibility, environmental conscience, business style, position within an industry, innovations, affiliations, employee relations, workforce type, management style, employee remuneration, shareholder relations, and so on. By adding psychographics to the demographic information, you increase the richness of your customer understanding.

Behavioral inquiries answer the question "How do they do what they do?" This is an in-depth look at customer demographics and psychographics in action. Whether you are in a business-to-customer or business-to-business marketplace, you can analyze your customers according to their habits in terms of the number of times they purchase, how often, the amount of product purchased, the decision-making cycle, and where the purchase was made.

Causation analysis answers the question, "Why do they do what they do?" Causation is the sum total of all the demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data you have accumulated. It matches up your features and benefits with your customers' perception of their importance. Take a look at the chart below. In the column to the left I have assumed, for demonstration's sake, that your company's features are price, brand, variety and so on. If none of my suggestions ring true then replace them with the features of your product or service and continue with the exercise.

If you can complete it quickly, congratulations-you know your customer well. If not, consider consulting your customers. Ask them how they rank your features in order of importance. If, for example, you find your customers' primary need is price, then offering a "show special" at your booth might be helpful. If you find that status ranks high on your customers' wish list, then participating in a show that attracts the cream of the crop will make a lot of sense.

Take the time to compete the table below.

  • High Medium Low Not at All
  • Price
  • Brand name
  • Status
  • Variety
  • Convenience
  • Warranty
  • Salespeople
  • Customer service
  • Promotion
  • Payment terms
  • Quality
  • Flexibility
  • Other

By understanding demographic, psychographic, behavioral and causation data, you have developed a clear portrait of your customer. Your analysis may also reveal that you have more than one customer profile.

Creating customer profiles may sound like an onerous task particularly for those companies who do not have dedicated market research personnel but with a bit of planning you and your staff can use each customer interaction as an opportunity to learn a bit more about these people. Once you get in the habit of collecting research you will wonder how you ever managed without it.


Now you understand how a profile will help your exhibit program.

2015 by Barry Siskind