I Hope

Di­rec­tor of Con­fer­ence Fo­cus, Max Turpin is shar­ing his in­sights on a range of top­ics with a reg­u­lar col­umn in BEN. Top­ics in­clude new gen­er­a­tion events and mak­ing events ef­fec­tive and valu­able.

Business Events News - - News -

ANDY: “Re­mem­ber Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

Red (later): “I hope I can make it across the bor­der. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pa­cific is as blue as it is in my dreams. I hope.” Re­leased in 1995, The Shaw­shank Re­demp­tion is a gen­uine movie clas­sic. While the film was over­shad­owed at the Os­cars that year by films such as Pulp Fic­tion and For­rest Gump, today it’s ranked No. 1 Best Movie of all Time by IMDb movie­go­ers – the world’s most pop­u­lar and au­thor­i­ta­tive source for movie and TV content. In a re­cent ar­ti­cle I men­tioned hav­ing read the find­ings of a Cvent sur­vey – their sec­ond Global Events In­dus­try Bench­mark Sur­vey. If you missed the head­line find­ings, you can read the de­tails HERE. In brief, what it re­vealed is that Bud­get­ing (work­ing with stag­nant or re­duced bud­gets) and Prov­ing ROI are the top two chal­lenges fac­ing event plan­ners. I be­lieve these two things are in­deli­bly linked, the rea­son be­ing ob­vi­ous: without prov­ing or demon­strat­ing ROI (or ROO, ROE or ef­fec­tive­ness) the like­li­hood of equal or greater in­vest­ment be­ing given to that mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­ity di­min­ishes. When asked how they mea­sure ROI, the two top an­swers were (via) At­ten­dance Num­bers and At­ten­dance Sat­is­fac­tion – ie. forms ask­ing “Were you happy?”. If you ask me, nei­ther of these is a valid way to mea­sure ROI. In­deed, I chal­lenge any­one to ex­plain to me what sat­is­fac­tion has to do with ROI. I’ve just read through the find­ings of an­other in­sight­ful in­dus­try sur­vey. It was an Event Mar­ket­ing Sur­vey con­ducted by The CMO Club in con­junc­tion with Cvent. The CMO Club is a global com­mu­nity of Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cers com­pris­ing 850+ mem­bers who help each other solve their big­gest mar­ket­ing chal­lenges. Some of the key sur­vey find­ings in­clude: 69% of re­spon­dents in­di­cated that they view events as be­ing very or ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant in ac­cel­er­at­ing sales and adding to sales rev­enue. Quotes: “Events are con­sid­ered a tra­di­tional form of mar­ket­ing” and “Events are a sig­nif­i­cant driver of sales pipe­line”. So most CMO’s con­sider events an im­por­tant sales and mar­ket­ing tool. No sur­prise there. 87% of those sur­veyed said that ROI is crit­i­cal or im­por­tant when it comes to al­lo­cat­ing bud­get to their events. How­ever, only 34% said they have ac­cess to the in­for­ma­tion they need to val­i­date their event spend. As one CMO said, “I view face-to-face events as an in­te­gral part of the clos­ed­loop mar­ket­ing process. So when my team wants to in­vest in par­tic­u­lar events, I look for the ROI of that event, just as I would, for ex­am­ple, if in­vest­ing in dig­i­tal me­dia”. As the re­port states (em­pha­sis added mine): “De­spite the sig­nif­i­cant power of events, al­most two-thirds of CMO’s sur­veyed don’t be­lieve they get the data they need to fully eval­u­ate the ef­fec­tive­ness of their event pro­grams. This cre­ates chal­lenges at bud­get time when fund­ing de­ci­sions are be­ing made about events. While events are deemed very im­por­tant, they lack the sup­port­ing fi­nan­cial data to ob­jec­tively prove their value. Event mar­keters are lag­ging in their abil­ity to con­nect the dots be­tween ac­tiv­i­ties and demon­strated re­sults.” To high­light the point fur­ther, when asked to name their Most Press­ing Event Chal­lenge, nearly 75% of CMO’s cited Prov­ing ROI and Un­der­stand­ing Ef­fec­tive­ness. Re­cently, Aus­tralia be­came a world cham­pion….the coun­try with the long­est run­ning record of unbroken eco­nomic growth (26 years). Even when most of the world was slammed by the 2008 GFC, Aus­tralia kept go­ing and grow­ing. We now have a gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple not know­ing what a true re­ces­sion feels like. Think busi­ness is tough now? Wait for the re­ces­sion that will in­evitably come our way. It will bluntly put things into per­spec­tive and make these times seem rosy by com­par­i­son. The thing that wor­ries me most, as it should ev­ery oper­a­tor in the events in­dus­try, is what the find­ings from these sur­veys are telling us. Bud­gets are a ma­jor chal­lenge. In­vest­ment by or­gan­i­sa­tions into events is a chal­lenge and un­der con­stant scru­tiny. Prov­ing ROI and ef­fec­tive­ness is also a big chal­lenge….and this is di­rectly linked to, and un­ques­tion­ably af­fects, the for­mer. When the econ­omy slows or re­tracts and or­gan­i­sa­tions are forced to rein in spend­ing, any un­der­per­form­ing or un­jus­ti­fied sales & mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties will be brought forth to the chop­ping block. Events of ev­ery type will re­ceive the first and heav­i­est blows from their cleavers. Those of you who know me or read my ar­ti­cles will know I’ve been a strong ad­vo­cate of event ROI, meet­ing ef­fec­tive­ness, strate­gic meet­ing de­sign and meet­ing ar­chi­tec­ture for many years now. While I re­main pas­sion­ate, I’ll ad­mit to some­times feel­ing dis­heart­ened. I can count on one hand oth­ers in the in­dus­try who have ap­proached me to give sup­port, if only to con­vey their shared feel­ings. Many event own­ers are re­sis­tant to change and re­luc­tant to try any­thing new – ig­no­rance, fear and ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ men­tal­ity rule supreme. The re­sult is that many meet­ings and con­fer­ences are stuck in the past, which is to say today’s medi­ocre zone, ooz­ing bland­ness and dis­play­ing all the ho-hum, run-of-the-mill char­ac­ter­is­tics that have them look­ing and tast­ing ev­ery bit like vanilla…..or chicken schnitzel if you were to ask An­drew Klein. I hope fun­da­men­tal change takes place in peo­ple’s think­ing. I hope there are other ex­po­nents of this ide­ol­ogy out there. I hope event own­ers are will­ing to step away from their dam­ag­ing comfort zone of ‘we’ve al­ways done it this way’ and un­der­stand too that a 10% in­crease in ef­fec­tive­ness far out­weighs a 10% re­duc­tion in cost. I hope. My feel­ing, how­ever, is that it may take the harsh, sting­ing les­son of a re­ces­sion to de­liver en­light­en­ment.

‘Prov­ing ROI and ef­fec­tive­ness is also a big chal­lenge’

If you’d like to learn more about how to make your events fresh, in­no­va­tive and ef­fec­tive, please con­tact

Max Turpin at Con­fer­ence Fo­cus on 02 9700 7740 or visit the web­site at con­fer­ence­fo­cus.com.au

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