Actually there is, but like many other terms, they are used interchangeably. Are you marketing an event? Or are you using an event as a marketing tool for your organization?
Many meetings and events require marketing to increase attendance at the event (unless the attendees are required to attend). Marketing the event involves a separate set of tasks from marketing the organization. However, the branding elements should be similar so that the stakeholders identify the event as being connected to the organization. Planners may refer to the marketing tasks they are using to promote their event as “Event Marketing”.
In other segments of our industry, the term “Event Marketing” means that events are part of the organization’s overall marketing plan. They are using events as one of many tactics to increase sales, improve clients’ perception of the brand or bring customers together.
What is the goal of your meeting or event? If it is to increase awareness of your organization or brand, then that would be a marketing objective. Do you host an event to increase sales of your product or service? If your meeting or event is for your customers, then that would also be a marketing objective.
“Across thousands of corporate event marketing departments around the world… change is happening. Strategies are being strengthened. Objectives are being fine-tuned. Campaigns are being integrated. And your live experiences are getting refined and reinvented.” – Event Marketing Summit 2013 (http://emsummit.eventmarketer.com)
If you are not getting a positive return on investment for your organization, why are you still hosting events? Knowing what to measure is important. Implement tools before, during and after the event that help you show how much sales increased from participants or how much their perception of your brand improved. You may not actually make any money from the event itself, but if it is integrated with other marketing initiatives and you can show that it is worth doing, then you have succeeded.
Don’t host an event because it is a tradition or just because that is the way it has always been done. Have conversations with the appropriate colleagues about how to transition your events into the marketing department if you feel that is where they truly belong. Even if the event is profitable, you need to tie it into the goals and objectives of the organization. Revenue generation alone is rarely justification for holding an event. What is the event’s impact on your stakeholders?
Whether your job is “Event Marketing” or “Marketing Events”, looking at the event’s role within the organization is a great place to start. The goals and objectives of the meeting or event should support the goals and objectives of the organization hosting it. The return on investment doesn’t necessarily need to come directly from the event’s revenue and expenses, but show an increase in the organization’s revenue because of the money invested in the event.
Written by: Colleen Donnelly