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Finding the Right Target Market

Written by Amy Chan


Posted on November 26 2014

The point of a trade show is the meet as many people as you can who have specific issues or problems to which you – and only you – have the solution.  That’s in an ideal world.  In this same ideal world, you set up your booth, and these people gravitate toward you and see in an instant how your services are the solution they’ve been looking for since the problem arose.

We do not live in this type of unrealistic ideal world, however, which puts the burden upon you to be prepared to not only help the prospective clients with their problems, but to identify these problems maybe even before they themselves know they exist.

The way for you, the solutions provider, to be best prepared to capitalized at a trade show is to know your target market in and out before the show ever begins.  If you can intelligently and keenly recognize your target market as soon as he or she – or they – walk into your booth, you’ll be able to maximize your time efficacy and minimize the time spent on booth visitors who never had any chance of becoming a client. 

Before the trade show you and your team must spend some energy profiling your ideal customer.  Are they male or female, or does it not matter?  Are they married or single?  Divorced?  What age would the perfect customer be?  What socio-economic class are they in?  Where do they live – specifically and generally?  Are they travelers?  What level of education do they have?  Are they sports lovers, intellectuals, both?  Do they have kids?  Are they internet savvy?

Knowing the answers to these questions will give you an immediate leg up as someone walks into the booth.  Some things you can ascertain about a person immediately (gender, age, even socioeconomic class to an extend).  Some other things can be determined in a quick conversation.  Knowing what you’re looking for will help when you engage in that initial conversation.  Then you do not have to waste time with someone who’s just in the booth kicking the proverbial tires seeking free trade show beer koozies.

Your perfect target market may be other businesses.  If that’s the case, ask yourself ahead of time the same type of questions about the ideal business match.  What’s the company’s sales volume?  How many employees do they have?  What industry do they work in?  What phone and internet capacities do they have?  How do they reach their customers?  How many vehicles in the company fleet?  Is it mail order company?  Do they require advertising specialties?   Are you looking to talk to an upper management type or a more mid-level person?

Again, knowing what you’re looking for will help you ascertain how important this person is to your business.  Often times at a trade show, a group representing other companies will come into the booth, and your job – and your sales team’s job – will be to determine who among the group is the person most important to talk to.  It’s a funny job you have – you have to make quick judgment calls without being too judgmental.  The more you do it, the more experience will steer you, but you will still sometimes misjudge an attendee.  The trick is to maximize the time spent with the decision makers.