Event ROI and how to get it

Demands are growing for accountability from both agencies and client marketers. To excel in today’s careful economy, where conscientious monitoring and auditing of expenditures is prerequisite, marketers are more than ever being tasked as business strategists and performance-oriented revenue drivers.

Today’s successful marketers need to be fully conversant in the areas of data mining and business analysis. They must have a deep understanding of database marketing, and track their results in order to continually tweak their communications for maximum efficacy. They must think strategically and get the most for their marketing dollar.

The common definition of ROI (Return on Investment), involves looking at the cost of expenditure relative to profit generated. Specifically, marketing ROI is the maximization of the return on your marketing investment. Despite companies’ increasing attention to the ROI question, keen marketers have actually been seeking to quantify ROI for many years, largely observing the more qualitative measures such as awareness, recall and attitudes.

Although these qualitative measurements are still vital, marketers today need to delve deeper and understand also the fiscal impact and financial value of each marketing investment.

An event is a solid marketing vehicle for those seeking tangible returns on their marketing dollar. A memorable event promotes message retention, and you have at your command creative and design, custom lighting, sound and audio visual, scripting, signage and other sensory effects to help make the communication memorable. Events present a face-to-face environment ripe with potential for building relationships and loyalty, and provide the marketer with opportunities for interactivity and immediate response. Following are a few hints to aid you in getting the maximum return on your next event marketing investment.

Measure

Before you begin tactical planning for your event, take the time to clearly define the strategy and objectives for the activity. Is there a particular trend or need that the messaging will address? What are the mandates for awareness, recall, and ROI? A clear, rationalized and well-planned approach to marketing investment will aid in not only forecasting results, but in making those results a reality.

Once you have a defined purpose and deliverable for the event, it’s time to develop your list of potential attendees. Audience acquisition is in fact the most important factor in getting the maximum return on your event investment. Now is the time to take advantage of your past database building campaigns, and mine your data to ascertain which customers and prospects are most appropriate to this message and strategy at this time. By knowing your customers and prospects, you can confidently invite a pre-qualified and relevant audience.

Technology plays an important role here. Most companies possess basic customer and sales history data, but accessing this information from the annals of an enterprise customer relationship management solution for the purposes of marketing is cumbersome and thus seldom attempted. A data management and fulfillment software developed specifically as a sales and marketing tool can make it easy to access detailed data and give you the ability to pose categorical queries to cultivate targeted lists.

Manage

Once you have developed a suitable invitee list, you’re ready to extend the call to action for registration to the event. A communication or series of communications that states clearly the benefits of attending — benefits that are targeted to the recipient and therefore strike a chord — are the most effective in acquiring the audience for your event. Your audience is busy and wants to understand the precise deliverable of attendance — the return on their investment of time.

After you deploy the invitation, keep the lines of communication open. Think ‘action — reaction — feedback’, and keep the cycle going. Another communication prior to the event reminds the attendee of the activity and reasons to attend, anticipates the attendee’s needs by providing practical information about the event, and reinforces the brand.

When it comes to executing the event, be sure to hold your efforts together with consistent brand messaging. There’s no need to sacrifice brand for ROI. And remember that a sound strategy still needs a creative spark to bring it to life. A memorable event promotes message retention and subsequently action, so use the tactical resources at your disposal to provide a stimulating delivery and get the most from your event.

Certainly you have a complete list of every reason a prospect would want to invest in your product or service. But knowing your customer can really help to communicate these messages effectively. By matching your customer’s decision-making process to your selling practices, you can compel your customers into action with reasoning they’re comfortable with. Relevance is the most critical factor in the conversion mix.

Maximize

After the event, use the data collected to maintain the momentum and keep the communication cycle going. The follow up may be in the form of additional information, a thank you, or a call from the sales department to take advantage of further conversion opportunity. Revisit the objectives for the event and track success. Capture the fulfillment data from which to calculate the return on your investment at benchmarks such as one month, three months and six months from the event. Use feedback collected over the course of the event as valuable and relevant content for your next communication.

At the end of the day, you will wind up with a percentage of conversion, as well as enhanced data as to the behavior and attitudes of the rest of your audience. History and precedent may dictate that, as a response to your event, within 10-20 per cent will buy your product. For whatever reasons, 20 per cent of the people that attend your event may never buy your product, which is valuable information unto itself, ensuring that you do not continue to invest in their conversion and potentially never see a return. The remaining 60 per cent are still in flux and thus a target. Their purchase is contingent on factors such as timing, budget, and authority. This is the data that you can take forward to make your future communications and events ever more targeted, and continue to maximize your ROI potential.

Chris McCarten is president and CEO of Myriad Marketing Inc, an integrated marketing and corporate communications firm, specializing in Closed Loop Marketing strategies. For more information, please visit myriadinc.com

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