David Chalmers, senior marketing director, Europe, at Cvent, shares his views on the strategies that can help organisers get the best results.
It’s estimated that a third of event organisers have no idea about the return of investment on events they organise. Events, when organised and executed in the right way, can not only build the profile of the company but also generate significant business leads.
With even greater scrutiny and pressure on organisers regarding the value of events, measuring and maximising return on investment is crucial. Yet how can organisers avoid falling into the black hole of unanswered questions and not being able to justify return on investment?
Make sure you define objectives and desired outcomes
All too often events are organised without much thought as to how this can be integrated into the broader sales and marketing strategy. It helps to focus on one specific goal.
Is your aim to increase awareness of a new product? Or to boost new leads and develop prospects? Or simply to cross-sell to existing ones? Whatever the reason, clarity is vital at the onset. Try not to merge too many business wish-lists into one event.
Know your audience
Organisers often think they understand the mind-set of the people they want to come along, but never presume. It’s very important to engage with the audience before creating the event.
Find out what the audience really want from an event. Research via email and social media too. What format elicits the best reaction? What will excite them about attending a future event – is it key speakers or a panel discussion? If it’s the chance to network, find out how they like to network.
Design an event which will work!
I’ve talked about formats in an earlier column. Yet it’s worth stressing the importance of not being afraid to get out of the safe tired format zone and designing a compelling event that will support objectives and desired outcomes. Be imaginative!
Monetise the Nos
Even if delegates cannot attend an event, it is very important to find out why. Perhaps it’s the cost, location or speaker. They could look at whether they want to have more information on your product and service. It’s a perfect opportunity to engage with them and even create new business leads even if they can’t attend.
Ensure the registration system is integrated with the company’s CMS system. By doing so you will be able to start collating personalised information about customers and prospects.
Promote the event with gusto
With time and money invested in the event, organisers should be making sure they get as many people of the right demographic coming along in order to get the maximum return on investment.
Getting ‘bums on seats’ alone is not the answer but is often used as a measure of success, due to a lack of organisation and not allowing enough planning time. Organisers should also make sure the invitation is something that can be easily forwarded on to relevant contacts via email and or social media and send reminders.
Capitalise the opportunities on the day of the event
A common mistake organisers make is they don’t ensure enough people attend from the hosting company so they can facilitate lots of interaction on the day. It’s essential the host captures as many business opportunities as possible.
You may want to set up a system where people can book appointments to meet specific people or, if appropriate, experts or key speakers at the event.
Capitalise on the opportunities post event too
Follow up, follow up, follow up. But make sure it’s done it the right way.
The feedback form is an essential starting point, but make sure delegates fill it in. All too often, forms are left on the chairs on the day of the event. Email questionnaires can work but consider getting real time feedback by sending a feedback form via a mobile app.
Ask the right questions. Make sure you factor in useful questions about content and format of the event too. Do also find whether they got the information they wanted. Has their perspective on your company or product changed as a result? Most importantly, do they want to learn more?
Don’t let your follow up stop there. Make sure the data you captured on your attendees is sent to your CRM system immediately after the event so sales can follow up on leads with great insight on what their interests are.
Make sure you have a follow up plan that is structured, integrated, and that will demonstrate to all involved your event has served its purpose.