By Danalynne Wheeler Menegus

Corporate event marketing is a numbers game. Whether you’re hosting your own event, or exhibiting at someone else’s, it’s important to establish goals and objectives. It can be challenging in a corporate environment where there are multiple stakeholders investing time and budget into the same event.

Be Explicit About Your Metrics

As an event planner, how do you go about setting event objectives and goals? Are they measurable? Do you differentiate between a goal and an objective? There’s a lot of overlap and interchangeable use of the terms. “SMART” goals, for example, are really objectives. This article from the FIRST agency goes into some detail on measuring return on objectives (ROO), which can be more useful than just measuring return on investment (ROI) where events are concerned.

Get All Stakeholders On The Same Page

Event goals may be set at the chief marketing officer (CMO) level, but event objectives are typically set at the event management level.  Other departments may also have their own goals and objectives; the VP of Sales may have audience acquisition goals for the reps, or Inside Sales may have quotas on registration numbers. Ideally, all the stakeholders should agree upon goals and measurement processes, together as a team. Not only does this help build community and consensus, but it also means that everyone is in agreement regarding expectations for the event.

Make Everything Measurable

It’s easier to set goals than it is to create objectives because objectives are more granular, and require specific actions, or tactics, to execute. You can have a goal of having the best user conference ever (although hopefully, your goals are more tangible than that), but how are you going to go about achieving that, and how will you measure whether you were successful? Your event objectives will vary based on both your goals for the event, and where your product and service is in the market, but they should be as quantitative as possible. Assign numbers and percentages – x% of badge scans should be qualified onsite, x number of demos should be shown, etc.

Ask yourself questions to help determine your event objectives and measurements:

  • How many attendees and/or sponsors do I want (or how much booth traffic)?
  • Do I want to build a list? If so, how many new contacts do I think I can collect at this event?
  • How many marketing qualified leads (MQLs)?
  • Is there a specific number and type of meetings I want to hold?
  • Do I want coverage from media or analysts?
  • How much revenue, and via what channels?

 Keep Measuring Even After The Event Ends

There will almost always be lead-related objectives. It’s important to periodically measure the lead process long after the event is over. Did any leads move down the funnel, i.e. convert to sales accepted (SAL) and opportunity status (categories often tracked by a customer relationship management platform)? How much is in the pipeline, from what organizations, and how many? Were any deals won? If a deal was lost or a lead was closed, why?

 From the executive standpoint, budget vs. profit is an integral measurement and one that often requires a certain amount of time to fully unfold. But if you can’t prove that you’re building pipeline from the larger events you host or sponsor, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be given budget to participate in the future. Even customer retention or recognition events tend to have long-game revenue goals attached.

 Perils And Pitfalls

If you set event objectives that are unattainable, you’re setting yourself up to fail. But it’s important to also not deliberately set objectives that you can always achieve because then you run the risk of people thinking you’re playing it safe. Figure out, as best you can, what realistic objectives are, and then try to do even better.

 Summing It All Up

All marketers today have to be data-driven. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the proof of an event’s success is in the numbers. Executives appreciate analytical thinking, clear and useful reporting, and data segmentation. It’s not about quantity or volume; it’s about collecting the right data and measuring the things that matter. The more you show the value in the event, the more you show the value that you personally bring to the table.

If you have questions about how to deliver an event that meets your pre-determined goals and objectives, speak with the event-marketing experts at SmartSource Rentals.


About the Author:

Danalynne Wheeler Menegus is a freelance writer, editor, and marketer with more than 20 years of experience in B2B event marketing. She is the editor of Corporate Event News, a TSNN publication designed for corporate event professionals. Danalynne has held senior product and event marketing roles at corporations including Dell, Sybase, and IONA Technologies.