Events have become an integral part of the marketing and communication strategies for many organizations. Whether it’s a conference, a product launch, or a networking event, events offer businesses a unique opportunity to connect with their target audience, build relationships, and showcase their brand. However, organizing events can be a costly and time-consuming exercise. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that the event strategy aligns with the overall business goals to maximize the return on investment. In this article, we will explore the importance of aligning event strategies with business goals and provide a step-by-step guide to developing an aligned event strategy.
Importance of Aligning Event Strategies with Business Goals
The pandemic has significantly increased competition for consumer attention, divided between numerous events. This increases pressure for event organizers in terms of content. In the pre-Covid era it was enough for businesses to have cool speakers, nice place and great entertainment to have a successful offline event. Today, a successful event requires not only star speakers, but also content that will appeal to consumers’ specific problems and pains.
Events are now a useful tool for businesses to promote their brand, generate leads, and increase brand awareness. To achieve the desired outcomes, it is essential to align the event strategy with the overall business goals. By doing so, businesses can allocate resources effectively, including budget, staff, venue selection, and event promotion. Additionally, aligning event strategies with business goals ensures that events meet specific objectives, leading to better return on investment (ROI).
Moreover, clear objectives can be defined when events align with business goals, enabling businesses to measure the success of the event and ensure that it delivers the desired results. To begin, businesses must identify their goals, the desired outcomes for the next quarter or year, and how they will measure their results. Aligning event strategies with business goals also creates consistency with the organization’s overall strategy, reinforcing the brand message and creating a cohesive brand experience.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Developing an Aligned Event Strategy
The first step towards developing an aligned event strategy is to define the goal of the event. It should align with the overall business goals and should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Here are some main tips on setting a right goal for your event:
Once you have determined the purpose of the event, you can set a goal that aligns with it. The goal should be specific and measurable, such as “increase attendance by 30%” or “raise $15,000 in donations.” Keep in mind, that even though often businesses follow multiple business goals, it is important to focus on just one goal. This way, you’ll avoid diluting the message you’re trying to communicate to your attendees.
For instance, the purpose of Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference is to showcase the latest advancements in their products and services, and to connect with their customers and partners. More specific goals for the event were to increase attendee engagement and interaction with the Salesforce platform, with the aim of driving adoption and usage among existing customers and to generate buzz and excitement around Salesforce’s latest product offerings, with the aim of attracting new customers and increasing brand awareness.
Social Media Marketing World 2022 had a great example of a catchy title: “Riding the Social Media Wave: Navigate the Currents of Change and Drive Business Growth”. This title reflects the theme of the event, which is focused on helping businesses leverage social media to drive growth and navigate the ever-changing landscape of social media marketing. The use of the metaphor of “riding the wave” is attention-grabbing and evocative, and positions the event as a valuable opportunity for attendees to learn how to stay ahead of the curve and succeed in the competitive world of social media marketing.
Step 1 in creating an effective event concept is to research your target audience and their pain points.
There are two ways. First is in case a business knows the target audience it wants to engage with, it is needed to research their pain points and problems. Second way is when a business knows its product and the pain it solves, so it is needed to research all of the target audiences who might be interested in this product. The most effective research methods are publications in media, trending social media posts and comment sections, and other events on the same or close topic.
The Global Inclusion Online Forum (GIOF) by CFC Big Ideas is a great example of an aligned event strategy. It started as a one-time virtual event during the pandemic and is now an annual forum aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the corporate world. The GIOF targets executives, HR professionals, diversity and inclusion practitioners, academics, and students, with a wide range of virtual sessions and networking opportunities.
Step 2 is finding event partners. It could be Media partners, such as traditional, electronic or social media channels that write about the problems of the target audience, or Network partners, such as NGOs and professional associations that bring together major industry players, related to the target audience and their problems. The more partners you can attract to the event, the better. Identify your media partners and network partners and reach out to them before reaching out to your potential speakers and sponsors. If you have some reputable partners on board, it will make getting speakers and sponsors easier and quicker.
For example, Collision Conference 2022, one of the largest technology conferences in the world, had partnerships with top-tier publications such as Forbes, TechCrunch, and the Financial Times, as well as media partners from various industries, including fashion, entertainment, and sports. These media partners helped promote the conference to their audiences and covered the event’s highlights and insights.
For network partners, Collision 2022 had partnerships with a wide range of organizations, from large corporations such as Microsoft and Google to startup accelerators and incubators, such as Techstars and 500 Startups. These network partners brought their own communities and resources to the event, helping to facilitate connections and opportunities for attendees. Having these partners on board undoubtedly helped Collision 2022 attract more high-profile speakers and sponsors, such as Al Gore, CEO of Apple Tim Cook, and Arianna Huffington, as well as sponsors such as Amazon Web Services, Mastercard, and Microsoft.
Step 3 is to identify target speakers and sponsors. It is important to differentiate speakers and sponsors. Speakers are big names who already have their own followership bigger than that of your event; market giants and opinion leaders. They can be those who know about the problems of the target audience, but do not necessarily make money solving it. They could be analysts, NGOs, companies from related sectors etc.
For instance, Web Summit 2022, one of the largest technology conferences in the world, with over 100,000 attendees from more than 150 countries, had Olena Zelenska, Noam Chomsky, Cristina Ferreira, Toto Wolff and Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan as the speakers taking part in the event. These speakers brought their own followership and expertise to the event, helping to draw in more attendees and generate more buzz.
Sponsors are usually market underdogs whose names are not big enough compared to the market leaders. They are companies who can directly benefit from our attendees as potential clients. Partnerships should be established with organizations or individuals who can benefit from participating in the event. This includes identifying the benefits for partners and how the organization will benefit from engaging with them. But, of course sponsors should be companies who are not direct competitors of your company.
Example of a recent event and its sponsors is the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2022, which is one of the largest technology trade shows in the world. Some of the sponsors of the event were Intel, Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic. These companies are all major players in the tech industry and their sponsorship allowed them to showcase their latest products and innovations to a global audience. By sponsoring the event, these companies could also establish themselves as thought leaders and experts in the industry, which can help them to build credibility and gain the trust of potential customers.
Aligning event strategies with business goals is essential to ensure that events are an integral part of the marketing and communication strategies and contribute towards achieving the desired outcomes. The pandemic has made it more challenging for businesses to attract consumer attention, and event organizers must provide specific content that resonates with consumers’ pain points.
By following the steps provided in this article, organizations can develop aligned event strategies that set clear goals, reflect the theme of the event, define the target audience/attendees, select relevant speakers, and establish partnerships. Finally, it’s crucial to make every stakeholder get value, so that your organization gets value too, and to set realistic expectations. With careful planning and execution, an aligned event strategy can help organizations achieve their business goals and create a cohesive brand experience.
If you want to learn more about various aspects of online events, feel free to download СFC Big Ideas Online Event Guidebook.