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Do events deliver customers or just good vibes? [Should events really be part of your marketing strategy?]

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I am often asked to put together events for clients, and despite all my best efforts to suggest alternate activities, they insist I go ahead. When my concerns come to the fore, they then say, “The ROI on that wasn’t great,” or my favourite, “We didn’t get many people, what went wrong?”

I could start back with all of the things we had originally advised them against, but that always tends to fall on deaf ears, and one thing I have learnt is that clients really don’t like to hear, “I told you so.”

Before the event…

Before planning an event, product launch, seminar, networking function, etc, etc, ask yourself what the key objectives of the activity are and then ask what would be the best way to spend your hard-earned money in the pursuit of these objectives.

Don’t get me wrong, an event done the right way might be that answer, but just make sure you ask the questions in the first place.

Being clear about what you want to achieve will help your agency or staff to focus on the right type of activity, everything from the time of day or year you hold it, to the venue or location and what you leave the attendees with.

Events need dedicated planning time and if your resources are stretched you will find yourself overworking your staff and settling for second-best options.

A quality invite list is vital. As the adage goes, rubbish in, rubbish out. It is also important to have a compelling invitation, something that makes people really want to attend. That might be a call from the CEO with a personal invite, but whatever it is, make sure the strategy is correct for your particular event.

Events can be expensive and when you break it down to a cost per event or cost per sample, the numbers can be scary. Don’t forget things like word of mouth and ambient reach of this type of activity though as these are the types of things that are hard to measure but that can have real benefits for your brand.

After the event…

Which brings me to me next point: TRACK, TRACK, TRACK. You need to know what happens after your customers leave the event. Was it a good experience? Did you get business out of it? Perhaps not this month, but what about next month or the coming months?

All this ties back into the objectives of doing the event in the first place: did it work, did we get what we wanted after it, did we evaluate it properly and would we do it again.

If the answer to these questions is no, then maybe it’s time to think about something else.

Believe me, there are a myriad of communications and marketing activities that can be carried out cost effectively to achieve your business objectives, and while an event might be the answer, always ask the question first.

Alicia Beachley is Founder and CEO of April5, an independent and specialised multi-service marketing agency. Alicia has over 16 years agency experience and is on the Executive Committee of the Australasian Promotional Marketing Association (APMA). An earlier version of this article appeared on the Dynamic Business blog.

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