By Jalene Bermudez, Founding Partner and President
Discover how to get a higher ROI, ROE and ROPI from your events using our proprietary InVEST Framework™.
Every attendee is unique. Each one steps into your event possessing a lifetime of experiences and with high expectations of what the event is going to offer them specifically. Most events are a pathway to advancing their careers, their knowledge and their network of contacts all of which will add up to the total value your organization delivers to each individual.
What surprises me is how often organizations are willing to spend millions of dollars on events for their customers, members or employees only to give them a one-size fits-all event experience. The event is treated like an island versus an integral part of the overall marketing or customer experience strategy.
Why does this happen? I’ve found that in many cases the organization has ignored post-event data from prior years. Organizations surmise and then view the data based on generic categories and worst of all, they treat valuable post event data as an EVENT ISLAND rather than an important component of market knowledge. In so many cases, once the event is complete, many swim off the island and the data is shelved as marketers and planners have to move on to the next big thing. Maybe some will do a basic review of last-year’s data right before the next year’s event in particular if they are trying to figure out why attendee projections have not been met.
It is unfortunate, because when event data is properly collected and analyzed, you can glean critical insights into attendee and customer needs and behaviors, as well as identify emerging trends. Performing a thorough post-mortem and leveraging past event data enables you to optimize the desired impact of an event, attendee ROPI (return on participation investment) and your organization’s ROI.
When events struggle with attendance growth, the data should be used to understand meaningful reasons participation is declining, has become stagnant or is growing slower than expected. Key questions need to be answered such as: Why are first-timers the biggest component of the audience? Why isn’t there strong repeat participation? Why are companies sending fewer people? Why is your organization not attracting younger attendees? Are we designing the event in a way that meets the needs of a “younger market”? Why does the core attendance consist mostly of those who have been around for years? How many participate because they have already built their networks, and this is a chance to see peers one time a year? How do we keep that loyal core (who are at the height or tail end of their careers, but won’t be attending in the future), while increasing participation by the next generation?
The reality is, in each part of successful event design and implementation, there is the need for a sophisticated approach to meetings and event architecture and data optimization. At Meeting Expectations, we utilize a research and data gathering framework focused on fully understanding the various stakeholders involved in an event. The cornerstone of the approach is audience segmentation that goes beyond typical attendee/member categorization attributes. The process focuses on defining the emotional drivers or the “the deeper why” of attendees in order to develop a plan to meet the needs, wants and desires, at a granular level, before, during and even after the event.
It’s for all these reasons I’ve developed our proprietary InVEST FrameworkTM. It’s where we start with clients as we work to design and execute their events to ensure key stakeholder groups’ needs are fulfilled, and our client’s business goals are met and elevated.
A critical element is clearly understanding pre-event considerations, such as motivation and interests for participating, specific goals for attending and the broader context of career, job and/or personal needs. A second component involves very detailed feedback during the event on how the actual experience is being processed and perceived. Lastly, we deliver sound recommendations on how to improve future events for each re-defined segment. This approach builds more valuable and relevant content, makes for more innovative and diverse activity options and leads to stronger sponsorship offerings and opportunities. The result? A deeper level of engagement for each stakeholder segment and higher overall engagement based on effective participant segmentation that provides value to all in a highly differentiated manner.
This methodology allows for structuring more meaningful and individualized networking interactions. The impact is raising the ROPI in time, money and the opportunity cost of a week’s worth of missed work that awaits attendees after the event. For the sponsoring organization, the goal is to promote passionate engagement, long-term involvement and loyalty as participants experience “Aha” moments, gain access through uninterrupted learning to relevant content and gain valuable knowledge and insights shared through targeted networking.
What does it all lead to? A proven approach to making an event better year over year and relevant in changing market conditions so the organization can capitalize on new opportunities. In a world of increased noise and clutter, face-to-face events are becoming even more critical to an organization’s marketing effort. Those who build events based on a deeper understanding will benefit greatly while those who don’t will see their events lose relevancy.
What’s at stake? Meeting your organizational goals, required ROI on millions spent in event dollars, growing sales, growing customer base, clients or members and advocates that will help promote the event in the future. Simply put, what is in play is your position and future in the marketplace.
When an event is designed using this approach, key stakeholder groups’ needs are fulfilled, and client’s business goals are met and elevated. If you would like to learn more about how we apply this strategic and result-driven approach and framework to your event, call 1.833.323.2232 to schedule a call with me.