Clever Carly: Showing the Value of Events

You know events are a solid business strategy—but do you have the data to back it up?

Hello, planners!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the role of meetings in an organization’s overall business strategy. Of course, as planners, we see the value in face-to-face events every day. And though clients have not always felt the same way, a 2018 industry survey shows that organization leaders are finally starting to take notice: 84 percent of executives say events are a critical component of success at their organizations—a 20 percent jump from 2017.

Makes you feel validated, doesn’t it? 

And while it is a good feeling, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. We all know the struggle of trying to persuade some clients—likely the other 16 percent!—that a meeting is worth it. 

It’s best to come to these kinds of conversations armed with proof. That is, concrete numbers that show the value behind your events—and how they can help further clients’ business goals, too. 

So, let’s take a step back for a little meeting strategy 101, shall we? 

1. Understand your meeting purpose.

It’s hard to measure success if you’re not sure what exactly you should be measuring. So, think about your event’s meeting purpose and identify its underlying goals. At Promote events, for example, you might be trying to sell a new product or increase brand awareness, while Network meetings might be more focused on generating new attendee connections. 

2. Find your key metrics.

Once you understand your meeting’s goal, it’s time to figure out how to measure it. Going back to the example above, let’s say your Promote event is both trying to sell products and increase brand awareness. In this case, you should be measuring how many products are sold, as well as the number of attendees, social media followers and press mentions that happen as a result of the meeting. 

For events with objectives that are unquantifiable, your goal is probably too vague. With the influx of technology, and therefore access to a plethora of different data points, I have a hard time believing that there is nothing you can measure your event against (as will your clients, I’m sure). Try to narrow down your goal’s focus.

3. Track and analyze the outcome.

After your meeting is said and done, what were the results? Take a step back and crunch the numbers. Did you meet your goal? It’s OK if not—not every event will breeze past every event objective. The important thing is analyzing the data and looking for areas to improve upon come the next meeting.

4. Finally, calculate your return on investment (ROI).

Ah, yes. ROI. Although many different metrics can tell the story of your meeting (see: everything above), ROI gives a direct figure that can sum it all up. 

But with so many ways to calculate an event’s ROI, it’s easier said than done, right? One of the easiest ways to look at it: event value divided by event cost, with the result being the ROI percentage.

In our example, event value includes the total meeting revenue, products sold, number of attendees, social media followers and press mentions. The cost is the total cost to throw the meeting, but also includes the time and labor spent planning it, too. 

Remember, there is no perfect formula for proving your meeting’s value—and what makes sense for one meeting might not make sense for another. The key is knowing how to talk about what your event can bring to your client’s bottom line, and hopefully the tips above can make finding that value a little clearer. 

Until next time.

Plan well,
Clever Carly