• James Randaccio

Girl Scout Cookies and Event Marketing

Girl scout cookies were delivered to the Bear Analytics office last week. Like millions of Americans, this is one of the highlights of our year. This time was different though, and I think we all went a little bit overboard with our orders. What was different about this year? Greta.

Greta is our Girl Scout Sales Representative, and she had us eating Savannah Smiles out the palm of her hand. We all see Girls Scouts with their tables on the street, so I bet you’re wondering how Greta was so effective. Glad you asked—not only did she know her target audience, she came in ready to execute a plan tailored to that audience. For her meeting with the Bear Analytics data analysts, she came armed with statistics about total sales and popularity, experience-based recommendations, and a pitch deck. You read that right. Greta knew exactly what we wanted to hear, commanded the room, and left holding the receipts for dozens of boxes of cookies (even some of the less-famous ones).

Since we have a one-track mind at Bear Analytics, we immediately saw how Greta’s tactics could apply to event marketing. To convert attendees, you have to tailor your messages to the level of the individual, providing them the information and value they need at exactly the right time. This is the essence of agile marketing. Many event marketing campaigns aren’t effective because they wedge too many (or all) prospects into the same messaging sequence. Here are the top three data sets event marketers should be using to tailor messages to prospective attendees:


This seems basic, but it’s number one on our list for a reason. The first data points will be obvious: Name, Title, Company or Organization, but these barely give you enough information to write a subject line for your campaign.

To craft effective messages, we want to know the membership status of both the prospect and their organization, and that person’s seniority level and history within their organization. Don’t talk to a Senior VP in a 10-person company the same way as to someone with the same title at a 5,000-person company. You can also craft messages related to their organization’s specific market niche and the value that your event provides in that arena.

Once all this expanded demographic data is organized, the real fun can start. The best way to tailor campaigns is to look at multiple demographic segments and target the overlap. Then you can send campaigns to “Senior VP’s of Sales at non-member companies of less than 100 people” rather than hoping a one-size-fits-all campaign converts the exact people we want it to.

Space and Time

This is where the rubber meets the road, and the data points affect the real world. The value of events is having partners and stakeholders in the same room—but first they need to get there. As an event marketer, you need to understand where your attendees are coming from and how they travel, know their geographic region and the specific airport or train station they use. This is especially important if your event location rotates, as the distance traveled and cost of transportation has a significant effect on whether prospects will register at all, even if they have attended in the past.

Proper timing is crucial in order to operationalize this geographic intelligence. Most marketers already send reminder emails around important dates in the registration period, and in the days leading up to the event. But if you want to provide real value and convert attendees, you have to target prospects based on when they have registered in previous years. Even better, you’ll know that the price of flights from the West Coast to Orlando are going up next week, so you can help your attendees save money by encouraging them to book early.


The most important, and the most overlooked, data set for event attendees is loyalty. Marketers need to have 3-5 years of registration information at the ready to understand an individual’s or organization’s relationship with their event. You can’t talk to your most loyal customers like they’re newbies, they know the drill. On the flip side, newbies need more granular logistical information about their involvement with your event. This holds true through all stages of the registration period.

Layering prospects’ loyalty profiles into your other data sets is one of the best ways to grow your event’s core audience year over year. If you want a person or an organization to act differently, whether to attend the event for the first time or to increase their sponsorship, you need to speak to them differently. Only by understanding your event’s loyalty landscape can you identify why you may have lost attendees in the past, which campaigns were truly effective, and new markets to target.

Detailed demographics, travel and timing, and the loyalty landscape are the first three things our analysts at Bear Analytics focus on when coaching marketing departments towards more agile, tactical campaigns. If your department has an additional focus that doesn’t fit into one of these categories, we’d love to hear about it! Actionable intelligence is the name of the game for marketers, and we’re always hungry for more.

Greta outperforms the Girl Scouts on the street because she targets a specific audience and tailors her pitch to them. Be like Greta. Target your audience with the right message at the right time.

Want another tip from Greta? Crush Thin Mints over vanilla ice cream. You’re welcome.