Event Selection: Justifying the No
- Marketers should use an agreed-upon, formal, logical and transparent process to determine the efficacy of a given event
- Events need to be positioned within a broader context than simply thinking of attendance at a specific show as the end goal
- Selection must be tightly linked to the goals of the program and aligned with the buyer and the phases of the buying cycle
In a previous post, I discussed how, by understanding event types and their key characteristics, organizations can match events to objectives and create a mix of events that will help them achieve their marketing goals. I also asked a question: By whom and how are decisions made whether or not you will participate in event X, or organize event Y?
We all know of some potentially embarrassing reasons that are given for attending or organizing a certain event: ”Well, we always go there,” “The sales manager has insisted that we put on a good show at a top location,” or even the old classic “We have to be there because all of our competitors are going.”
Sometimes the event in question is genuinely useful. The issue, however, is that we cannot properly justify our decisions if we use ill-defined selection criteria. Instead, marketers should use an agreed-upon, formal, logical and transparent process to determine the efficacy of a given event. We need processes and tools in place to justify to our stakeholders why we will attend a certain event and, equally importantly, why we are not prepared to participate in another given event.
Events need to be positioned within a broader context than simply thinking of attendance at a specific show as the end goal. We recommend – for all but a handful of exceptions – treating each event as another tactic within an overall campaign framework. All events should be considered as one of a group of integrated, multi-touch tactics that support reputation, demand creation, sales enablement or marketing intelligence program goals. As with any other tactic, event selection needs to be tightly linked to the goals of the program and aligned with the buyer and the phases of the buying cycle.
Having goals in place will help determine which event should be selected. Take into account the following considerations:
Categories of value. Naturally, each event type offers particular benefits. For example, Web-based events remove the need for travel, whereas a live event provides personal contact. In addition, analyze the value that each event potentially provides within reputation, demand creation, sales enablement and market intelligence programs. To do this, break each category down to useful components of value. For example, for a reputation program, you might consider not only the influencers present at the event, but also your ability to be heard. Often, the pressure is to generate new business leads from an event, and reputation goals are seen as secondary. In this instance, place a weighting factor based on the relative importance of demand creation over the reputation goals.
Categories of cost. Hand in glove with an examination of event value must be an understanding of the associated event cost. Calculate both external and internal costs. For costly and time-consuming events, apply a figure not only for such things as the employees’ time costs, but also for the opportunity cost of foregoing other potentially goal-driving activities.
Displaying the value/cost relationship of a particular event or range of events will allow you to quantify your decisions. Establishing objective criteria with which to evaluate events will help you make decisions based on rational rather than emotional criteria. Moreover, this allow different geographies to highlight the varying costs of running a similar event type and provide the basis for a fact-based selection discussion.
So, the next time you are told that you “have to” attend an event, determine the program goal it will help fulfill and then use a selection tool to conduct a value/cost analysis and produce an informed comparison of multiple events. At a minimum, you will have at your fingertips a logical explanation of why you have decided not to spend your precious budget on someone’s pet event.