Many leaders are struggling to understand where events fit into their marketing strategy. Across the world, events are under attack as marketing budgets shrink. and “the other guy is going” isn’t enough of a reason to exhibit at events. As organizations focus more on metrics and accountability, how do we measure event effectiveness? And how do we relaunch our event strategy to thrive in a digital world?
Create great events
Great events are the ones that support a corporate goal. Those that drive expected revenue, or strengthen an internal team. Aligning event strategy with marketing, sales, and other functional strategies is critical.
Event management best practices call for measurable goals around attendance and satisfaction. Your ability to understand event data and use it to make business decisions is key. Whether it’s event management in Australia or Austin, measuring the right data will help you make those decisions. Oh, and let’s not forget data must be secure and compliant with GDPR.
Attendee experience is driven by your ability to understand your audience. Before events, incorporating attendee preferences into the design will enrich their quality. Events are a showcase of your brand and include many brand touchpoints. Understanding each of those touchpoints will reinforce our brand and value propositions. Aligning them with attendee preference will ensure they resonate.
With the above defined, budgeting is the final piece of the puzzle. Depending on your expected results, what resources do we commit to the effort? How do we compare the ROI of an event to our other marketing initiatives? Building a business case for your next event will help finance understand why these events require the budget.
Event management and execution
There are three critical elements when executing events: people, process, and technology.
Your events team has to be different than those of your competitors. vent success is 50% event conditions and 50% the talent you put in those conditions. Who your attendees first encounter at an event sets the tone. How your people continue to serve and assist sets the tone. Ensuring that you hire, retain and train top talent is critical to event success. Learning management programs for your team will help improve skills.
There are many processes that support an event; venues have to be sourced, registrations processed, rooms booked. The food and beverage must be ordered, rooms scheduled and projects managed. Ensure all of these processes are laser-focused on one goal: improving the attendee experience. If it does not impact the attendee experience, consider outsourcing it or delegating it.
Event management software is a critical component of event execution, but it only works if it is enabling a well-defined process. Otherwise, event management software merely automates chaos. This will lead to poor attendee satisfaction and low adoption of your apps and networking technology. Once you have defined your people and your processes, the technology becomes easier to leverage.
Events are not dead. Leads have become cheaper and easier to acquire through digital channels. Buyers prefer to engage over the phone, and like fast transactions. However, events continue to be central to many corporate strategies. This is due to the intimate, face-to-face nature of this channel; the handshake, the eye contact, the post-event drinks. Event engagement cannot be replicated through automation or digital tactics.
Event mobile apps should promote engagement. Games and polls can keep your attendees bought-in and excited. However, it must be backed up with the right messaging and incentives. What you want the app to promote should be clearly defined.
All marketing leaders are focused on engagement. Event management software can help in this process, but is only part of the puzzle. While software can enable networking and lead management, it is reliant on defined processes. While session tracking tracks traffic stats around a hub, data analysis monetizes that intelligence. Turning events into profit centers for your attendees will keep them coming back.
Executives should be monitoring event data and making real-time decisions and changes. Surveys and attendee interviews can help you understand what your audience thinks. Monitoring your competitors’ events will ensure you are leveraging the latest best practices. Asking each of your event coordinators to supply perspective will ensure you are considering events from every angle.
As the event landscape shifts, staying in front of event trends is critical. Being agile and responsive will ensure each event gets incrementally better. Seeing events as a core part of your strategy will ensure they are in support of your objectives.