Your event needs to align with your company’s strategic goals. There has to be a seamless coherence between your event, your customers’ experience, and your long-term vision. Your event planner needs to appreciate how your event fits in with these plans, and must be experienced and skilled in positioning it within a competitive market place and within the trends that are specific to your industry.
Building immaculately executed events is one thing – ensuring they achieve a strategic business objective that can be measured and quantified is quite another. At boardroom level, CMOs now have to motivate why an event’s budget was worth the investment. An event planner worth their salt will have the preparatory work in place before the event, collect the necessary ROI data during it, and offer detailed and useful information to the CMO afterwards.
There’s a fluidity of roles required of the expert event planner: they need to be as effective in the boardroom as they are in the ballroom. Can your event planner take a seat among your executive team, articulate themselves effectively and efficiently, express their understanding of your brand positioning and strategy, argue for additional budget allocation and then pull off an event that deserves it? No? Do you really think it’s enough that they can work an onsite registration platform? Think again.
A run-of- the-mill event planner will offer you a run-of-the-mill event. But a standout, iconic project that your business and brand will become known and recognised for, that takes years of experience and expertise. What you want is for your event to become its own sub-brand, with its own recognised status and its own loyal following. You need a pro with the ideas to boot.
Your corporate identity, your unique codes and identifies, and the way these signifiers reflect your company culture – these things matter. A strong event planner understands that branding your event isn’t simply about putting your logo on the cupcakes served at afternoon tea. It’s about ensuring that your corporate ethos infuses your event completely, seamlessly communicating your brand’s digital savvy or warm human element.
Your event planner should be able to create meaningful content that is stimulating, dynamic, customised and easily shareable. Your audiences need be able to rework the content that you disseminate for their own purposes and audiences, without it losing your particular flavour and flair. This user-generated content can then be incorporated into bespoke digital platforms, websites and apps, and consumed at scale. Your event planner should also know that video is the fastest growing medium for shared content – neglect it at your peril.
Every delegate at your event has a smart phone – a device that’s likely to be your strongest competitor for their attention. By creating content from a mobile-first mindset, your event planner is demonstrating their appreciation of this trend and to reaching your delegates conveniently and effectively. Bear in mind that this doesn’t simply involve making use of social media, it also means creating mobile-friendly websites and apps, and distributing all communication, from presentations to media packs, in ways that can be accessed on the move.
Your event planner’s marketing approach should not come down to a hashtag. #Yawn. Also: #Seriously? The digital platforms used to promote your event need to access remote audiences and non-attending delegates, as well as hosted content on your website and CRM systems. These platforms need to be used properly for real engagement rather than cheap cheerleading.
Thanks to the power of the algorithm, and the penetration of the Internet and modern CRM platforms, an in-real-life event now has the power to target core audiences directly or through content sharing. This will likely encourage your audiences to engage and will help you to build relationships with them in a predictable, consistent and measurable manner over time. Of course, your event planner’s got to know how to do this in the first place – make sure it’s on their checklist.
If your event content model and inbound marketing plan have been designed upfront, and your audience has been invited to opt-in to future event information and communication, you’ll have increasing access to a growing, interested and engaged database. Invite them to connect to you properly and professionally, reward them authentically for doing so and you’ll have their attention long after the venue lights have been turned off.
After all that, how do you know if your event planner cuts the mustard? The best place to begin is to ask the right questions. Examine their track record, ask for their perspective on your strategic positioning, query their ROI measurement tactics, and establish if they have the internal resources to create smart content. It’s worth investigating whether they use these best practice approaches to run their own business, too. If they have sharable digital content that they proactively and creatively distribute, if they make use of excellent inbound marketing principles and if they have first-party data models for their own customers, they’re likely event planners of the wheat variety.
(The topic for this article and some of the references made in it were inspired by a piece that first appeared in Bizcommunity. Any apologies due are wholly given.)