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Where Does Event Strategy Fit In?

March 29, 2017|Kate Pierpont

  • When planning for the upcoming year, companies struggle to determine where to position events in their overall marketing mix
  • Faced with a substantial budget commitment and difficult-to-measure lead return, organizations become conflicted on how much to allocate toward events
  • SiriusDecisions recommends five components for creating an organizational event strategy

We hear it time and again – when planning for the upcoming year, companies struggle to determine where to position events in their overall marketing mix. When faced with the facts of a substantial budget commitment and difficult-to-measure lead return, organizations become conflicted on how much to allocate toward events and how to determine if the overall event strategy should target one or multiple event types. The strategy can diverge when an organization plans and executes events outside the company’s broader goals, targets an audience that is too great, or fails to align with the buyer’s journey.

SiriusDecisions has found that when an organization’s events don’t align with its overall strategic goals, the events have typically been planned and funded by departments or influential individuals without the support of a formal planning or selection process. Ultimately, this results in wasted resources and an unsatisfactory – and often unmeasured – return. When creating an organizational event strategy, SiriusDecisions recommends including the following components:

  • Integration. Events can be used to achieve a variety of objectives, and play a pivotal role during the buyer’s journey or customer lifecycle. However, events shouldn’t be a series of standalone tactics – they should be considered part of a broader company or division-wide plan, ideally as components of integrated campaigns, or as out-of-campaign activities that support multiple campaigns.
  • Functional interlock. To build on integration efforts, event planning and selection processes should be put in place that consider the broader plan and drive agreement and support across stakeholder functions – especially among sales and channel leaders.
  • Coordination. Moving to a structured, centralized form of event control ensures consistent resource allocation and the achievement of planning milestones. Local teams may select and execute local events within an agreed-upon framework.
  • Measurement. To calculate the success (or failure) of an event, criteria for measuring total event value should be established. In addition to new business lead acquisition, robust metrics (e.g. increase in permissions to email, blog comments/tweets) that highlight contacts’ movements along the buyer’s journey or improvement in reputation or customer retention should be included.
  • A holistic approach. Companies that focus only on the event itself miss the engagement opportunities that are presented with pre-event and post-event activities.

Events should be positioned within the overall marketing mix in a broad context; many organizations put too much emphasis on the activity related to an event (e.g. number of registrants) and not enough on the outcome (e.g. reaching the right buyer, driving pipeline impact). Every event type should be considered part of a group of integrated, multi-touch campaign tactics that support reputation, demand creation, sales enablement or marketing intelligence program goals. SiriusDecisions recommends starting by identifying a need-based campaign theme, then creating lower-level program objectives. Although event management is a rapidly expanding function that has seen an explosion of new technologies and tactics, in-person events remain a critical part of the b-to-b marketing mix.

Kate Pierpont

Kate Pierpont is an editor at SiriusDecisions and has nearly 20 years of editorial experience, the majority of which was in magazine publishing. Follow Kate on Twitter @KatePierpont.
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