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Introducing the SiriusDecisions Event Selection Model

April 26, 2017

If someone posed an open-ended question to 10 people about how they would like to organize a fun night out, there would probably be at least 10 different opinions about what to do – none of which would coincide in terms of preferred location, duration and acceptable cost. If a group wants to have a good time together, they need to identify areas of agreement and make compromises in order to agree on a plan.

B-to-b organizations often face such challenges when making decisions on event organization, attendance and sponsorship. In this issue, we describe the four steps embedded in the interactive SiriusDecisions Event Selection Model, which provides an objective and rational method for weighing event value vs. cost and prioritizing individual events.

One: Identify Events for Evaluation

Events should be considered as components in a series of touchpoints that move prospects and customers forward in the buyer’s journey. As with any other tactic, they need to be aligned to in-campaign or out-of-campaign goals, as well as buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle phases. To identify potential events for evaluation, assess value and cost parameters for each of the following event types and how these characteristics relate to the organization’s goals and resources:

  • Web-based events. Online event types include webinars (interactive), webcasts (lecture format) and hangouts (on-camera discussion). More expansive Web-based events (e.g. virtual trade shows) offer attendees and sponsors some of the amenities of a trade show without the associated cost, travel time and logistical planning.
  • Live events. These events are focused either on pre-sale activity or the post-sale customer audience. Whether creating initial demand, building on previous interactions or adding value to an existing customer relationship, the agenda is controlled by the sponsoring organization.
  • Trade shows. Typically, these are theme-based, organized events where exhibitors and sponsors compete for the attention of attendees and members of the press.
  • Customer conferences. These are usually multi-day events, though a single day can be feasible. They drive loyalty among current customers and educate them about new offerings. The sponsoring organization controls the content and attendee list and often has a separate team and budget allocation to fund and organize these events.
  • Sponsorship/reward events. This type of event relies on a third-party activity (e.g. sporting or cultural events) or a location/activity (reward-oriented) to drive success.
  • Channel events. This type of event focuses on supporting the channel business. An externally focused event can be hosted or sponsored by the supplier on behalf of its channel partners, or a supplier may invite channel partners to an internally focused event.

 

Two: Assess Event Value

Analyze the potential value of each event by rating its value (e.g. along a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree) in each of the following components. Assign a weighting factor based on the relative importance of each component to organizational goals:

  • Reputation. Determine the potential presence of key influencers (e.g. media, analysts, thought leaders, pundits) at the event, along with the likelihood of the company being able to interact with them in a meaningful way.
  • Demand creation. Consider the anticipated audience size and the realistic opportunity for the company to engage with prospects. Assess the propensity of the target audience to buy a certain type of solution and in what timeframe.
  • Customer retention. Segment the anticipated attendance of customer contacts into relevant groups (e.g. strategic or high-risk accounts). Determine the likely impact on customer advocacy activities and customer retention.
  • Market intelligence. Assess the potential for gathering meaningful market insights (e.g. trends, data) and/or account profiling information, such as the roles and relationships that determine buying decisions.
  • Risk/threat. Determine any negative impact of failing to attend the event (e.g. buyer perceptions, competitive presence). Organizations may consider the damage from failing to attend an event more significant than any positive gain from being present.

    Three: Assess Event Cost

    Rate the costs associated with the event, assigning a weighting factor based on the relative importance of each of the following categories.

    • External costs. This category includes external budget expenses (not including personnel travel reimbursement) associated with the event. Include sponsorship and registration fees, logistical costs (including external agency fees), management fees, location charges (or technical setup fees for online events) and speaker costs.
    • Internal costs. Analyze the costs of personnel time and resources required to plan and execute the event. Estimate the cost of event deliverables (e.g. specially created or produced content) and any delivery channel (e.g. social media board/video). Finally, include any specific infrastructure investments (e.g. event-specific technology platforms).

    Four: Analyze Event Ratings

    Assessments of event value and cost yield numerical scores that permit both the simple ranking of events and the plotting of all events on a matrix, with one axis for the total value score and the other for the total cost score (see graphic).

    Displaying the cost/value relationships of potential events based on these objective evaluation criteria helps center investment discussions and decisionmaking on fact-based, rather than emotional, criteria. Moreover, it allows different geographies to highlight variable costs and value in their regions of similar events.

    The Sirius Decision

    So long as humans remain interactive creatures at heart, large investments in all event types are likely to continue. The issue, however, is to make those investments more effective. It’s especially important to stop using ill-defined event selection criteria. Marketers should use an agreed-upon, formal, logical and transparent event selection process, underpinned by the SiriusDecisions Event Selection Model tool, in order to determine the efficacy of a given event and thereby help properly justify selection decisions.