How can event planners be more strategic?
By Stephen D Pickett, Chief Strategy Officer. This article was published by Conference & Incentive Travel on 5th June 2023.
How can planners be more strategic?
For me, good strategy is about starting with the end goal: what is it somebody’s trying to accomplish? In Live Group’s case, we are equally interested in the end goals of each member of the audience and those of our clients.
We want to know what is it that the audience member wants to accomplish by going to an event? And by doing that, working backwards to figure out how that aligns with what the client is trying to achieve, and then what the agency must do based on that insight.
Simply, it’s about looking at strategy from the perspective of the person attending the event and what they want to get out of it, whereas a client’s strategic journey often starts with what they want to push to the audience and the route to achieving that is not up for debate.
And your top tips?
Be audience first. Understand your audience can’t be pigeonholed.
You are speaking to lots of different types of people even if they share a commonality like a job title. Everybody has a different way they learn, a different way they consume content, and so on, and it’s critical that event organisers stop delivering one size fits all environments and start personalising those engagement journeys. Do this, and you maximise audience engagement, message retention, and ROI.
Your audience will include people of different ages, genders, gender and sexual identification, origin, jobs, family situations, and more. This all makes a difference as to how they attend and experience an event.
It sounds so obvious and easy, but my experience as an attendee has been for organisers to focus on their goals and not consider the audience. And that’s why we start at the end. Because if the audience members achieve their goals, the client is going to naturally achieve theirs and ROI will increase.
How can agencies maximise ROI for clients in the current landscape?
If we’re talking about current financial landscape then, for me, it’s about focusing on pre and post communications and personalising those to the individual audience member to increase effectiveness and reduce waste.
Live Group recently launched a new profiling tool called AudienceDNA, which helps our clients understand their audience personality types and deliver an experience that’s tailored to all their needs, and that helps to personalise pre and post communication and make it relevant to the audience, too.
It’s important as well to understand that sometimes pre content needs to be recorded, so that you can entice people to be at the event. And while this means a lot of the work must get done pre and post, if you do it effectively, there will be minimal costs added on the day, and that maximises ROI for the actual event.
What do brands need to do to create an impact and memorable experiences?
I feel like I am repeating myself a little but, for an experience to be memorable, it needs to be relevant and personal to you.
The example I give that resonates with people is think back to when you were in school, and you had the dreamer in class that’s staring out the window, the joker, the studious one and the one that’s always mouthing off.
If you have one teacher teaching the same message the same way to everybody, it’s only getting through to a third or quarter of the audience. But if you tailor it in any manner, you’re going to have people who are more engaged and are going to enjoy their experience at school a lot more than anybody else. And we can do the same thing with an event.
Once you’ve really got under the skin of your audience and you start planning, what next?
As I mentioned before, different people like to learn in different ways. You have an introvert/social and an extrovert/social, and then an introvert who prefers digital and extroverts who prefer digital. So, that needs to be considered in every element of your event, from the way the floor is laid out to whether you build separate rooms for people who may want to attend in person but prefer a digital experience away from the crowds. It means you can still broadcast the same thing, just in multiple rooms, or offer delegates headphones so they can listen in from anywhere in the venue.
Then look at EVERYTHING – the colours you’re using, what height information is displayed at, sound volumes, scheduling, food, special consideration for neurodiverse people, content that works for people with accessibility needs, session duration, break frequency, networking spaces – do they allow for introverts to enjoy them? And so on.
Next time you plan an event, put revenue to one side if you can, and really focus on the person attending and their journey through the floor. Do that, and you will nail ROI, and increased revenues will follow because you can show you’re delivering a higher impact to the people who are attending and enjoying that experience and charge more for that.
Do people need to rethink the definition of ROI?
Maybe. I always ask, would you rather have 100% of £100k or 70% of £1 million. What I’m trying to say is, we deliver a bigger pie, so even a small slice of that will be bigger than the whole of the previous ‘pie’.