Written by Jim Hennessey and Katie Zupancic
At Event 360 we build our marketing and event experiences around the participant. But how do we know who the participant is and what will resonate with them? We use Event Participant Profiles.
Participant profiles (personas) are fictional characters/stories that represent the typical participants at our events and the new audiences we are trying to reach. The profiles are useful in crafting marketing messaging and tactics. They are also useful in designing on event experiences and almost any other participant touch point (emails, merchandise, etc.).
Some people think that creating these profiles is a difficult and time-consuming task. However, it really isn’t difficult, and the process is beneficial to your entire company, not just your marketing team. One process that seems to work for us is when we spend 30 minutes brainstorming and discussing each profile. By the end, we recommend creating three existing and two desired profiles.
The attached chart outlines the key elements of Event Participant Profiles, which focus on consumer identifiers and event participant identifiers. Put them together, and you can begin to tell your participant story.
Here are some tips for creating participant profiles:
- Don’t create too many. Start with one core persona of your event participant. Any additional personas should be distinctly different from your core persona.
- Mix it up. Create profiles of your current participants along with desired new audiences, and don’t be afraid of creating a negative or opposing persona.
- It’s more than demographics. Sure, demographic information is the foundation, but it’s not everything. Think about how your personas spend their days. What motivates them? What excites them about your event?
- Give them a name. Come up with a name for each persona. This is where we like to have fun! We typically choose the most popular name based on the year that person was born. For example, if your persona is a 35-year-old female, name her Samantha, because that was the top name in 1980.
- Don’t overthink. If you are having a hard time getting past the basic consumer identifiers for your persona, throw them out and concentrate on the profiles you know all about.
Once you successfully create the Event Participant Profiles, share the findings across departments. Marketing can utilize the information to craft contextual campaign messaging that will appeal to each persona. They can also use the information to ensure they are delivering advertisements on platforms that will reach those audiences and move them along the conversion funnel. Your on event team can factor the preferences of personas into event elements, components of the run of show, and signage.
At Event 360, our participant experience team used this exercise to help guide improvements to the festival area at one of our events. It also helped direct conversations about merchandise, incentives, and giveaways, as we had to consider what would resonate. By identifying preferences of your personas, you can both validate what works and work creatively towards a more engaging future for your event participants.
Jim Hennessey and Katie Zupancic work on MuckFest® MS, a fun mud and obstacle 5K in support of a world free of multiple sclerosis. Connect with them here: Jim (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+) and Katie (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+).