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How Mature is your Marketing Event Discipline?

June 29, 2015 | By Julian Archer

  • While many companies maintain a central events function, separate groups are required at various stages within the event cycle
  • Their combined activities and efforts are called marketing event discipline
  • The SiriusDecision Maturity Model helps evaluate marketing event discipline in six categories

Many companies maintain a central events function that offers internal logistical expertise and/or is responsible for organizing relatively large events. However, it is highly unlikely that a single function or department will have the sole responsibility for the strategy, selection, planning and execution for every event a company attends or organizes. Separate groups within an organization are required at various stages within the event cycle. Their combined activities are called marketing event discipline.

Round of ApplauseAssessing marketing event discipline against agreed-upon and defined criteria provides executives and functional teams with a high-level view of the organization’s current activities associated with event strategy, selection, planning and execution compared to expectations. This will reveal areas that are not as mature as expected, and areas of strength that can be leveraged. To assist with this exercise, SiriusDecisions offers a Maturity Model for evaluating event discipline in the following six categories.

1. Definition and Goals

Analyze how marketing events discipline is valued within marketing as a whole and within the sales and/or channel organization, how success is defined, and how well the team is performing. Evaluate the clarity of the definition of the event discipline, potential overlap or conflict with other roles or functions for aspects of the practice, and consistency of the implementation of the roles within the practice itself. Furthermore, evaluate the degree to which goals are clearly defined for the event discipline, how well those goals relate to broader campaign and/or corporate objectives, to what extent other functions contribute or share goals, and the historical success of the company in meeting its goals.

2. Interlock (Alignment)

Assess the alignment and relationship within the distinct functions that are directly responsible for activities within the event cycle (typically, a demand center/centralized campaign team and field teams). Furthermore, evaluate the effective interlock between the event discipline and adjacent functions, such as sales, portfolio marketing, operations teams and tele-services (internal and external), as this is also essential for an effective marketing events discipline.

3. Processes and Procedures

Evaluate the processes that support the selection, planning and execution of events, including the complete pre-, at- and post-event experience of attendees. The goals are driven by reputation, demand creation sales enablement and customer retention objectives. Not every company places responsibility for all parts of these activities within the same function. Evaluate the event discipline’s ability to influence, recommend and select events. Evaluate the maturity of the organization’s event planning and governance processes, and evaluate the event discipline’s process maturity to balance both effective event execution (by event type) while maximizing the attendee experience in the pre-, at- and post event phases.

4. Skills, Knowledge and Training

Assess the available skills to cover the three pillars of the SiriusDecisions Event Management Framework:

  • Event support. Includes elements such as selection tools, campaign planning knowledge of the lead management process, and effective measurement.
  • Event logistics. These skills pertain to all areas of event organization. This function might be outsourced, which will demand further skill development to select and manage external event agencies.
  • Event experience. Evaluate the skills to plan and manage the event experience (pre-, at- and post-event) including such elements as invitee segmentation to improve the relevance for attendees, “at-event” skill certification and post-event nurture.

5. Technology and Tools

Evaluate the degree to which standard tools are used for event discipline activities and deliverables, and whether best practices exist and are being followed. Furthermore, assess the degree of integration among the tools used by the event discipline, the integration of these tools with other systems used across the organization, and the overall process and plans for integrating tools and platforms used throughout event selection, planning, execution and measurement process.

6. Measurement and Reporting

When evaluating, consider that identifying the right measurements to track – such as attendee experience (pre-, at- and post-event), customer retention and loyalty, program goals – and ensuring that appropriate data is available, accurate and timely are two key steps toward event discipline effectiveness. Measurement efforts are worthwhile only if the information collected is used by the organization for decisionmaking.

Conducting a maturity assessment allows an organization to transform its event discipline from a purely reactionary tactic-driven team into a more proactive and value-measured resource, as well as help identify opportunities for evolution. The gap analysis can take a deeper look at cross-functional activities and deliverables, which can help isolate resource gaps, investment priorities, and necessary process and operational improvements.

Julian Archer

Julian Archer is a Senior Research Director of Marketing Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions. He has more than 25 years of international b-to-b demand creation experience within corporate and pan-European field functions. Follow Julian on Twitter @julianarcher

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