Event Management Strategy: Not So Stressful or Eventful
Editor's Note: Caiman consultants Ryan Guzman and Cait McNamara also contributed to this article.
You just put on a major event – pat yourself on the back. You may have just wrapped up weeks, months, or even years of planning. Then reality hits: you get your event invoice and discover that you went 20% over budget. You review feedback surveys from attendees and see consistently low satisfaction scores and many comments similar to "This was a complete waste of my time and money." There’s a lot of room for improvement – but where do you even start?
Whether your event is a small executive offsite, a medium-sized all-hands meeting, or a large-scale partner conference – events of all sizes are challenging to manage. Successful event managers must not only be visionaries who can see the big picture – they must also be meticulous with tiny details and leave no aspect of event planning untouched. All things considered, they must also work with tight budgets and the need to increase attendance rates year over year.
A high-quality events strategy delivers a return on investment every time: not only for your events' participants who invest their time and money to attend – but your own organization and employees. Planning successful events requires an understanding of key planning tasks before, during, and after.
Event management and event marketing go hand-in-hand. When putting on an event, it is important to first consider the subject matter, who the presenters are, and the content in designing the agenda. Outcomes should be defined with input from executive sponsors and key stakeholders. Identifying the intended purpose and business value with them onboard ensures you may structure the many different elements of your event to meet the intended business outcome(s).
The next key audience is other teams that share similar goals and interests – in some large-scale organizations, this may include partner organizations. Your partner channel is interested in hearing how you'll address the critical issues and pain points they experience in their business and with their customers on the ground. They also want to hear from executives about the product roadmap and discuss ideas for opportunities the channel should be pursuing to drive business planning and strategy. It’s not uncommon that the teams you work with or your partners are multinational if not international – and would have to arrange travel plans weeks, if not months in advance. Ensuring the content being shared is beneficial to them and a productive use of their time and expenses in traveling is highly important.
Directing content appropriately towards your target audience is integral to your event’s success – especially since they are likely the ones that will rate the effectiveness of your event. You don’t want to plan a technical event and invite business development people who may not relate to the technical content in their day-to-day work. One presentation does not fit all – plan each event or session for each audience. Your content may score well with one audience and poorly with the other, especially if the content isn’t relevant or up-to-date. Organizations may design their events strategy around the needs of these audiences. In fact, according to Cvent, 25% of organizations host between 6-15 events per year—with conferences and tradeshows being the primary event type. Including stakeholders and subject matter experts in content review sessions ensures you truly engage your audience.
Along with catering toward the different audiences for the event, you must consider how all the pieces fit together on the backend of event planning. This ensures your event is executed smoothly to result in delivering a high-quality, no-stress event experience for attendees.
Content Design, Development, Management and Delivery
Pre-planning event outcomes and logistics with your presenters and other event partners is integral to the success of your event. This first starts with customizing the event for your attendees by capturing key contact and demographic information during registration. Collecting this information enables you to better serve attendees – make your data work for you by gleaning insights into what they’re looking for in your event and collecting questions or topics they are looking for you to address before attendees arrive. While there are many tools out there to market events and drive attendance, email remains the most effective channel for driving registrations. There are also tools available to help you manage various logistical aspects of planning. From logistics and collaboration tools, to event evaluation tools like RFID scanners and PowerBI evaluation scores – there's lots of options out there. Managing content and logistics is made simpler with collaboration tools like OneNote, SharePoint, and Microsoft Teams to manage the details of AV, catering, and transportation, as well as attendee registration and your content in one central place. Following the event, post-event communications to recap highlights are essential to communicate back to both attendees and stakeholders. Based on a survey of event marketers conducted by FreemanXP, 54% use social channels like Facebook and YouTube to relive highlights. Furthermore, these post-event communications are excellent sources to promote upcoming events and experiences—with 36% of event marketers doing so.
Return on Investment
In addition to the benefits attendees receive on their investment, there is the potential for business benefits on your company or group’s investment in organizing the event. Especially as events can account for up to 25% of annual marketing budgets, organizations must optimize for staying on budget, delivering engaging experiences, and generating ROI. The expected ROI can be dependent on the event audience, be it internal employees or a mixture of internal and partners/customers, but most likely it will always align on providing its participants with engagement on the business’s priorities to achieve a specific business outcome.
Key Outcomes to Add Value:
- Addressing employee skills gaps with the tools and training to implement business strategy. Smaller breakout sessions allow organizations to deep dive into role-based training and tools to provide employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute to the larger business goals.
- Increasing employee engagement – driving the creation of new ideas and innovation. Interaction between employees allows for them to discuss material and engage in creative thinking. Collaboration among teams that normally may not interact on a normal cadence allows for knowledge sharing and the exchange of unique approaches to solutions - necessary for a company to continue to grow and excel.
- Enabling a shared vision between employees and partners. If the event is a mixture of internal employees and partners, the content may be designed to generate excitement and encourage the exchange of ideas between customers and employees. These interactions help spur future business development, improve product strategy, and establish partnerships for go-to-market opportunities that expand and grow the business.
Events also provide opportunities for business leaders to communicate to large segments of their business, as well as their valued partners. Keynote sessions enables leaders to share the state of the business and the strategy moving forward to inspire both employees and partners to achieve business goals and priorities together.
Whether your event targets customers, partners, or internal employees or features executive keynotes or small breakouts with subject matter experts – the potential for return on investment is high: a well-planned event may drive business improvements for all.
Caiman offers deep expertise and scalable experience across corporate events of varying sizes, audiences, and geographies. Our footprint spans from planning strategic meetings for C-level executives, internal team meetings with 800 members, to conferences of 20,000 attendees. We work with you to align stakeholders across teams to deliver a cohesive story and help you manage the tools and content you need for your event – to deliver a return on investment for your attendees, your employees, and your organization. If you’re interested in learning more about the work Caiman is doing in event management, please contact us!