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Best in Show: Use Buyer Personas to Make Wise Decisions about Conference Swag

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To get real value from your promotional products, it helps to gather data to enable your team to identify tradeshow giveaways that will resonate with your audience. Start by developing your buyer persona before the conference or event and then use the knowledge you gathered through a shared interest — like a well-chosen, conversation-starting corporate swag item — to round out your buyer personas after the fact.

Not only can identifying buyer personas help conference attendees connect with your brand, but it can also inform you about how brand voice, style and design can be tailored to conference attendees. This is all valuable information when you’re planning your branded giveaway for the next industry event. Plus, the right promotional items will also help marketing strategists, content creators and designers make decisions that support your business goals.

How to Define Your Buyer Personas

According to the Digital Marketing Institute, personalized marketing campaigns have the power to drive 18 times more revenue than generalized ones. Creating tailored marketing means more brand loyalty, better company engagement and — perhaps most importantly, especially for a young business — fewer dollars spent marketing to groups that probably won’t engage with your business. Here’s how to define your buyer personas so you can be successful at the next conference.

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  • A Day in the Life — Putting yourself in the shoes of your target consumer is a great way to help understand their needs, address pain points and tailor your product to their expectations. It’s also a good way to help understand which types of conference giveaways will resonate the most with your ideal customer. For example, if you’re dealing with consumers who are tech-savvy and care about staying connected with friends and family, you can bet you’ll be successful with cool tech giveaways.
  • Talk to Attendees — Simply making assumptions about your target audience won’t yield the best results. One of the simplest ways to gather data about your target audience is to talk to attendees at industry events. It’s one of the few times that you’ll actually get to engage, face-to-face, with real-life prospects en masse. Ask them why they came to the conference, determine their professional role and identify which promotional products they prefer. Treat every conference as an opportunity to engage and learn.
  • Make Quality Interactions — When you’re dealing with large crowds of people all day, it can be exhausting and easy to forget how important every interaction is. Make your booth time extremely valuable by prioritizing quality over quantity.  Lead with a question like “What brought you to this event?” so that you can immediately start developing that person’s buyer persona in your head.
  • Prep Beforehand — Before you head into a conference, you should have a solid idea of who your target consumer is. And after the event is over, you should have a few fully realized buyer personas that you can leverage moving forward. Pre-conference, do a little bit of research through social media and marketing data to ensure that you’re engaging with the right group. This will help you identify the most valuable leads at every event.

Leveraging Personas with Swag

Naturally, you can really benefit from having quality, in-depth conversations with conference attendees. But when these attendees are constantly bombarded by competitors and other companies at the same event, you have to figure out a way to stand out so that you can get the best access to the consumer. Ask yourself the question: What would prompt a quality interaction at the event? It might be creating a unique custom booth, having a particularly engaging demonstration or developing a few unique tradeshow giveaways.

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  • Use Swag to Start Conversations — No one likes to feel bombarded by a salesperson, even if that’s the nature of a specific trade show or conference. A good way to encourage natural conversation at a well-attended event is to use unique branded items that are guaranteed to start a conversation. This might be something like a branded fidget spinner or a piece of promotional apparel with a funny, unconventional or locally inspired design.
  • Offer Swag as an Incentive — If you’re big on creating giveaway tiers — for example, offering low-cost promotional tote bags and pens to all attendees and saving more premium giveaways for the most promising leads — then you already know that the promise of a great tradeshow gift can prompt people into action. To really sharpen your brand personas, try offering higher-end gifts to consumers who fill out a survey or test your product. It’s a great way to perform market research while in the field.
  • Re-Energize Your Booth — One of the most successful ways to use every single swag dollar to your advantage is to use premium freebies — such as branded Bluetooth speakers and other cool tech swag — as part of sweepstakes and drawings. When your goal is to interact with attendees, you can leverage this strategy by hosting hourly drawings to get visitors back into your booth. Repeat interactions mean more recognition, trust and loyalty over time.
  • Create Cool Swag Bags — You may think that creating swag bundles with several branded items would be cost-prohibitive, but that’s not so if you’re wise about how you spend your budget. The great thing about swag kits is that they offer an opportunity for you to add additional information about your company in the form of flyers, business cards and literature. Include a flyer in your swag bag alongside your unique giveaways to encourage consumers to fill out surveys that will help you determine your ideal audience.

You already know that promotional gifts are good for business. Over 94 percent of people say they won’t forget the name of an advertiser or product if its emblazoned on a promotional product, after all. But the value of corporate swag doesn’t end there. It’s also a great way to encourage face-to-face customer engagement, especially at highly competitive events like conferences and tradeshows.


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