Catersource is part of the Informa Connect Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Understanding Your Customer Through Persona Mapping

How can you, as an exhibitor, optimize your company’s various touch points on the showfloor? Actually—how can you leave a lasting impression that carries all throughout the event cycle (before, during, and after)? Crafting a customized persona marketing campaign and thoughtfully mapping a customer journey are key elements of a successful exhibition strategy.

Customer personas; know your audience!

When you have well-crafted customer personas, the chances of successfully appealing to your target audiences’ interests with your tradeshow marketing efforts are a lot higher. Customer personas, which are basically fictional characters that represent your key buyer segments, put faces and names to prospects, and they tell you more about wishes, hopes, dreams, motivations, and pain points they have—aka opportunities for you! At the same time, they help you portray a well-rounded image of your brand toward the tradeshow audience as a whole.

So ask yourself; how well do you know the audience you’ll be meeting at a tradeshow? How well do you know these prospective customers? How much do you know about their everyday business concerns and challenges, and their reasons for attending a particular tradeshow? You might have a rough idea based on your anecdotal experience, but are you really looking into it? Are you doing your research?

Having a goal to craft buyer personas can help to make a priority of this research. Tap into the wealth of knowledge available through your account manager. Catersource has attendee demographic data that will help you through this process. Some of this attendee demographic data can be found here in the Exhibitor Prospectus. Below are some more hand-picked resources to get you started:

The Complete, Actionable Guide to Marketing Personas • Why You Need B2B Buyer Personas and How To Create Them • 4 Myths Preventing True B2B Customer Understanding


Start your map, or timeline, at the point before a customer decides to use your product or service, not at the point when the customer uses your product or service the first time.”


The journey; show your audience!

Now that you understand your customers a little better, write a personalized story that will tempt them, tug at their heartstrings, and excite them, all while getting them to realize how the solution you are offering can be helpful for their business. Easy right? Not really, but in a world of “show-me, don’t tell me” communicators it is important that you at least try.  

To tell your story effectively you need to begin by stepping back and mapping out all the efforts you make, as well as the actions that customers take to interact with your brand. Start your map, or timeline, at the point before a customer decides to use your product or service, not at the point when the customer uses your product or service the first time.

To help in this process, ask yourself: Where and how does this trade show audience (and all of its various personas thereof), experience my brand before, during, and after a tradeshow? Here are some examples to consider:
• Is my website optimized for mobile?

• Do I have case studies or customer success stories on my website?

• How do I answer the phone when a customer calls?

• Do my key buyer segments find me when they search topics that are related to my participation in a tradeshow?

• How did I engage with this audience before the event?

• How do I welcome my customers at a trade show?

• How do you thank my customers for visiting me at a trade show?

Once you start analyzing all the individual touch points your customers will have with you before, during, and after a tradeshow, start to consider which touch points along the way can be improved in terms of the story or journey. Whether you tell your story through your website, social media, e-mails, print ads, brochures, or videos, always remember two things: memorable customer experiences come from a variety of small interactions, and consistency counts. The way you present yourself along the customer journey and your story need to be perfectly aligned. You’ll know you’ve told a good story when your customers start to take a genuine interest in engaging with you.

Customer personas and journey mapping are really just putting a process around something that is innate. Creating common ground which contributes to mutual understanding is something we all do in our lifetimes, this is just a means to accomplishing this on a broader scale. There are countless resources to help you through the steps of mapping your customer’s journey. Below are a couple that I like:

How to create a customer journey map • How to Create a Customer Journey Map alt

Angie Ridgeway is Catersource's Customer Success Manager. She can be reached at [email protected].