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Making it Count: Adding Value Through Events

By Kevin Jackson
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I’ve been saying for years that we need to get better at measurement. And not because I’m a numbers guy. Show me a spreadsheet, and I’ll show you my best ‘bored face.’

Making it Count: Adding Value Through Events

Adding Value

The fact is, that no matter what job you do, you have to add value. When it comes to the job we do, that old #eventprof thing, we know that it’s going to be long, hard, tiring, sometimes seven days a week but what we also know, is that’s what we get paid for.

You get paid for the job you do, (see above) you get rewarded for the value that you add. So you can see that I’m all about adding value.

You have to add value, but you also need to demonstrate that you added value, you have to prove that what you did added value. If that’s how we move forward personally – what about the companies we work for or the projects that we run?

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Measurement

I spent my early years working in above the line advertising and when it comes to measurement they know it inside and out. They get how to evaluate the size of an audience. The opportunity to see the reach. And the correlation between what a client spends and what they get back. That’s why we all scowl at the people from ad-land sitting at the top table. They are very important to the brands that they work for though because they can prove what they do drives sales, drives growth. They can prove that for every dollar, pound, euro, yen, or rmb, they spend the client is going to get a multiple of that back in sales.

Or can they prove that, or have they just been collecting the data for so long they are able to prove a correlation?

Get Ahead of the Curve

So why are we so far behind the curve, when it comes to events and live experiences? It’s no good simply turning up and doing what was in the brief. Following instructions and not missing anything out doesn’t win you any awards, it certainly doesn’t make you different than any of the other #eventprofs out there.

You have to be prepared to do a lot more.
Surprise and delight the audience.
Drive a surge in unprompted awareness or sales.
Amplify and grow a community of brand ambassadors.
Activate that community on a regular basis.

All of these things we can deliver.

Proving Our Worth

Do our clients know that’s what we can do? Some, but not all, because we haven’t proved that we can do it. But we can’t prove it, unless we measure it. And that’s what we as an industry need to do, we need to start proving the results we achieve and measure the important stuff.

As an industry, we’re obsessed with what we do. We eat, sleep, talk, tweet, Instagram, think and do events. Brilliant. But who cares?

No, really – outside of our world, who cares if something is an event? I’m worried that we’re so tied up in doing events,that we sometimes forget why they even exist.

I’ve worked with a lot of CEOs and Marketing Directors in my time. And if there’s one thing I can say with absolute certainty, it’s that none of them ever demand “Get me an event.”

They might say “We need to launch a new product.” They may tell their teams “Start thinking of ways to drive brand engagement with a new audience.” Or maybe they just want to see some bigger numbers on the end-of-year sales report, or to maintain shareholder loyalty, or to align their workforce, or any number of other reasons. Either way, when they make a decision for their business, it’s not because they want an event. So it’s frustrating to see how often that gets forgotten along the way to delivery.

Focus

It’s up to us to start thinking about those business objectives. To constantly remind the entire team that we are a communications discipline here to solve business objectives. We need to focus on those solutions, rather than the tactics, and we need to find a way to track what we are doing against those objectives.

We then have true measurement, data we can build on. Capturing learnings, doing more of what works and ensuring that we are in the conversation all year round. That’s a long term strategic relationship with our clients

In Conclusion

Nobody knows better that I, that when we start to deliver, we know it’ll be a great event – that’s why this is such an amazing sector to work in. It’s jam-packed with talent, passion and innovation. But we need to remember that there are decisions that are made, long before someone suggests an event. And that’s where we can really start adding value.

Maybe we do need an industry wide consistent approach to measurement, that is certainly one of my objectives to make that happen. But for now let’s all take personal responsibility to measuring the right thing.

That way, we can start having smarter conversations with our clients. Delivering better experiences for attendees. And proving that there’s no more effective form of marketing than live events.

about the author

Kevin Jackson
Voted the most influential person in the UK event industry over the last 3 years, Kevin Jackson has been making his influence felt for over twenty years. He’s been a significant player with some of the world’s most respected marketing services groups and is now Director at his own growth agency, The Experience is The Marketing, and President of ISES UK.  
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