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Tips to Measure the Success of Your Event

Ah, the event has finally wrapped up. The guests are gone, the venue is being cleaned, the equipment is packed up and outside vendors have gone wherever they go to think of further schemes to make your life more complicated. Time to congratulate yourself and your team on a job well-done.

But wait! How do you know that the job was indeed well-done? “From experience” or “It’s common sense” I can hear the veteran even managers among you say. “I knew what I needed to do for the things to run smoothly and for attendees to be satisfied and for the goal of the event to be achieved.”

How do you know if you did something better this time around

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Okay, I say, but then I ask: how do you know if you did something better this time around, i.e. if attendees are even more satisfied and the purpose has been overachieved?

Don’t you want to know what went right (or wrong) and what impact did it have, so you can improve your know-how and practices, delivering an even better service next time around?

There are multiple parameters you can measure before, during and after the event in order to assess its success. Registration could be up. The number of exhibitors could go up. There could be a sales increase. But how will you or your client know if the event was a worthwhile investment, which is what all this boils down to?

More than 500 billion dollars are spent on events annually, and that data doesn’t include weddings, otherwise it would be more like a trillion. In any case, those sorts of numbers merit a more dedicated approach towards ROI.

Of course, event ROI is mostly a nebulous thing, even in the era of ubiquitous data streams and big number crunching. But there are some “hard” and “soft” parameters you could be taking into account when determining what (if anything) you could have done better.

You must know the purpose of your event in order to determine how successful you were in achieving it

As we have discussed in the previous post, first you must know the purpose of your event in order to determine how successful you were in achieving it. Once you know the “why”, the “how” will come much easier.

Still, determining the impact of those “hows”, that is, answering the question “was it worth it?” is an inexact science. Good luck trying to trace all leads generated at events to the event itself. And how can you know how beneficial was all the networking your employees undertook?

The hard metrics such as number of sales or leads are usually more straightforward and easier to track, but soft metric are actually more important.

Case in point: when you are dealing with a “fun” type of event, hard metrics matter almost nothing, except if it was a for-profit thing, but even then there is only one important KPI: profit. And thanks to those savvy ancient Phoenicians we have the ultimate KPI to measure it - money. Otherwise, the success of your “for fun” event can be ascertained only by somehow measuring those “soft” parameters.

A recent study has determined that 59% of marketers claim they have no tools at their disposal to measure event ROI. Of course, that is claptrap.

Therefore, today we’ll be discussing stuff that mostly relates to corporate or “sales” events. Most event planners and organizers worth their salt have a sense of how these sorts of events were received. But a surprising few have any idea about the possible metrics to measure that. A recent study has determined that 59% of marketers claim they have no tools at their disposal to measure event ROI. Of course, that is claptrap.

First thing is quite obvious: you need to calculate the total expenditure for the event. Once you know that, you can go into details, determining costs for each and every aspect of the production, or you can keep it blunt and simple and take this as your reference number to determine basic ROI against company performance before and after the event.

The second thing is to measure any changes in the client’s business after the event. For that, you will need to work closely with the client, and they will have to recognize the importance of follow-up activities, which can extend up to six months after the event.

This means data regarding company profitability, as well as new customers, leads and partners. The parameters may vary depending on the marketing goals of the company.

Most of these are a piece of cake to calculate, since there are objective elements that correlate with the event, stuff such as revenue generated, phone or email inquiries and deals closed.

Since, as mentioned before, they vary from event to event, according to my experience it is best to define them in advance, just like any KPI. When you have several defined (a minimum of three and up to a dozen if you feel like really getting into it, but five or six are more than enough for any type of “sales” event) you have everything you need to get some really useful insights after the event wraps up.

But what about those softer, more elusive parameters like brand recognition, stronger community and CRM improvement? You could always try mingling throughout the event or standing at the exit, watching people’s faces and eavesdropping on their conversation (no, this is not a joke, I knew a guy who did this… Actually, he employed three temps for that specific purpose).

These kind of parameters vary even more depending upon not only the type of event but the type of brand and company. You don’t want the same stuff happening when you are promoting a new luxury sedan and organizing a party to mark the opening of a vegan food festival.

Fortunately, all these things can be measured at least to an extent, but it takes a little more effort, dedication and investment to begin with. You can always go the tried and true old school route of handing out questioneers or doing quick post-event surveys.

Or you can use current technology and check the buzz the event has generated on social media (prompting people with dedicated hashtags or a specialized app is almost always a wise decision – even if the feedback is ultimately negative, at least it will be easy to sift through it all and see what needs to be done in order to improve).

Just make sure that you have some kind of a mechanism for gathering attendee impressions beforehand and use it at the event or in the post-event phase. Only good stuff can come out of it.

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