Why a "Return on Objectives" Should Shape Your Strategy
If you’ve planned an event, you know the first question you’ll be asked by every stakeholder, collaborator, and vendor you work with: What’s the anticipated budget? And throughout the planning process, the budget, in effect, becomes your event’s primary KPI. Can you book the vendors, talent, and venue you need within budget?Instead of focusing solely on your financial investment, we encourage event organizers to zoom out and examine the bigger picture. Why? If your overall event strategy isn’t meeting your corporate objectives, then the cost is beside the point.
"It’s easy to focus on cost when setting your event strategy—but this can be a mistake. Instead, we encourage you to work backward from your organizational objectives."
In the detail-laden rush of event planning, it can be tough to take the time to look at your event marketing holistically and ensure your corporate objectives—in addition to your financial goals—are being met. To help you examine and differentiate between your “Return on Investment” versus your “Return on Objectives,” here is a list of questions to ask yourself and your team:
1.) Who is the Core Audience for This Message?
Many organizations work backward from their budget to set an attendee goal. In fact, according to event marketers, “number of new customers in attendance” and “number of registrations” are the KPIs they use the most often. But does the number of folks in the room matter if you’re not reaching the right ears?
Focus instead on getting the right people in the right room. For instance, if you want to influence industry leaders, an intimate, invite-only forum with top speakers might be more effective than a thousand-person conference. Alternatively, if your marketing team aims to boost brand awareness, a free all-day training event might be the key to more broadly evangelizing your products or services.
"While reshaping your event strategy to better convey your core messages might lower an individual event’s ROI on paper, it will offer greater returns in the form of audience engagement and attendee collaboration."
2.) How Should We Bring This Audience Together?
Over the past few years, so much about how we connect has changed. While that can feel daunting, it also presents event marketers with new methods for fostering collaboration and connection—allowing them to be more selective about hosting large-scale, in-person gatherings.
Think about the message your team is trying to communicate. How do you want the audience to experience receiving that message? Is it an industry or organizational update the audience will passively absorb? An online event would likely serve your team’s purposes in this case. Is your message meant to inspire or unify? Then prioritize getting everyone into the same room to celebrate together. Either way, the message should guide your event’s mode or channel.
3.) Is There an Opportunity to Remove Organizational Silos?
Events are often assigned—in terms of both attendees and finances—to one department or another. For instance, a company’s sales team might meet annually in Miami, while its product team meets in San Francisco. Each has its own budget for the event and its own content to present.
To maximize corporate event ROI and ROO, challenge that pattern. How much does their event content overlap? What would these teams gain from being in the same location together? Events are meant to be catalysts for discovery and innovation. By removing the barrier between groups, you’re creating an environment where disparate parts of your organization can collaborate and better understand one another. Plus, with the combined budget of two events, your event marketers can design a unique experience that will “wow” folks from both sides of the org chart.
Put Your Message in the Driver's Seat
As you start reshaping your event strategy while asking these new questions, your annual event may turn into something completely different—and that’s okay. You might envision a large, dynamic conference that has a cross-organizational impact. Or you might consider creating a series of high-touch events with fewer paying attendees. Your event strategy is now driven by your organizational objectives and by the message you want to convey—not by budget alone.
Ultimately, your best performance indicator is your team’s ability to engage your audience. Allow your message to drive your methods, and the excitement and connection that your attendees depart with will be your true “return.”
Looking for ways to connect with your audience and ensure that their experience is front-and-center? Check out our recent blog, which is all about upleveling your audience’s experience.