Corporate Event Marketing
Corporate Event Marketing
“If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, Any Road Will Get You There.”
– The Cheshire Cat, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland
Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of corporate event marketing can be a challenge. Too often, ROI feels nebulous, intangible. But it doesn’t have to be.
In fact, measuring your event marketing ROI is a key component of the Wilsonwest four-step process: Insight, Innovate, Implement, and Interpret. So I thought I’d share three tips for measuring event ROI.
After the event, we conduct a full event audit. It includes the surveys, interviews, our own observations, and any goal achievement data the client might provide, e.g. whether they got the desired appointments or sales after the event. Once that information has been processed during our client debrief, we can map the event to the desired outcomes and determine a more measurable ROI.
But it’s not over yet. Next we have to take what we’ve learned and use that knowledge to help drive the next event, the next insight. Corporate event marketing is a cycle, and success comes from building on our successes, and learning from our challenges.
If you’d like to learn more, call us at 415.282.4560, or e-mail us at email@example.com
Corporate Event Marketing, The Wilsonwest Way
We interviewed Andrew Cambouris, Creative Director at Silverlign Group, about how they work to design effective communication for C-level events, such as Cisco’s CIO Summit. Silverlign is an integrated marketing and design agency based in Silicon Valley and part of the eBay family of companies.
Though we do much more than events at Silverlign, there’s a sense of excitement before each event that I love. There’s the rush of getting everything pulled together, and that first day when we see participants interact with devices and find the sessions and give feedback. With an event, you get first hand insights into how the users experience it, and I think that’s unique in marketing and design.
Our first C-level event was for Cisco in 2007 – the CIO Summit. We were hired to help identify and brand the Summit, and that included all the touch points: the invitations, signage, badges, program guides, evaluations, etc. We’ve been doing the CIO Summit ever since, and just wrapped up our third year of the Cisco CEO-CIO Leadership Council (CCLC) event.
Our branding approach to C-level events like these is to be ubiquitous and consistent. [Tweet this!] Branding starts with the invitation and flows through every touch point going forward [Tweet this!] – from the ride signs at the airport, to the welcome letter on their bed in the hotel room, to the badge and signage at the hotel. Consistency is key, especially when the participants for these events are repeat visitors.
That said, consistency doesn’t mean boring. From a creative standpoint we always try to push it. But the design and branding remain coherent, and there’s value in that because we’re branding the events themselves.
Below are some guiding principles we follow when designing communications for C-level events.
For more information on Silverlign Group, click here.
C-Level Event Considerations, Corporate Event Planning
In the late nineties, Mary and I were involved in a Financial Services Conference in Paris, where Margaret Thatcher spoke about Britain’s position on the Euro. We were tasked with managing her arrangements – from greeting Baroness Thatcher upon arrival, to finding her a Parisian hair stylist (the latter was the most challenging of our duties, as the hair dresser had to be vetted by Scotland Yard).
Mary and I debated what would we ask the baroness, if given the opportunity.
And we were.
Margaret Thatcher invited us for a gin and tonic after the event. But instead of talking geopolitics, she turned the conversation to us. She kept the conversation light, even asking about Mary’s earrings, and we left feeling like we’d had a drink with a real person – not a celebrity.
Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” From our whirlwind meeting with Margaret Thatcher, it seems she had a knack for putting others at the center of the conversation. And we won’t forget it.
C-Level Event Considerations
Know your client is a common mantra at Wilsonwest. But nobody knows people better than Sharon Gillenwater, CEO of Boardroom Insiders. So we spoke to her about C-level event marketing, the best way to invite C-level executives to corporate events, and how to develop content for the C-suite.
Wilsonwest: Hi, Sharon. Tell us a bit about you and Boardroom Insiders.
Sharon Gillenwater: I specialize in marketing strategy and a lot of what I do is around events. But I’ve developed my expertise around C-level marketing – targeting high level executives like CEOs, CFOs, CMOs… the top echelon of the company.
C-level executives have specific marketing requirements. Their time is valuable. They get invited to many many events, more than they can possibly attend. So it’s important when you communicate with them about the event, you aim for 100% relevance rather than sending a generic pitch and leaving them to figure out whether your event matters. [tweet this]
WW: How would you go about this?
Sharon: You could research what issues your generic target audience is concerned about. But we recommend that instead of using general demographic information, you focus on the individual. And that means learning exactly what each participant cares about.
So we’ve developed a database of Fortune 500 executives. Our database subscribers can access it and see information about an individual’s background, hobbies, business “care abouts,” likes and dislikes. And our clients use that information to shape the content of their events, as well as to shape the event communications and invitations.
WW: Tell us more about “care abouts.”
Sharon: In order to develop “care abouts,” we read interviews with C-level executives and scour quarterly conference call reports, looking for what – in their own words – they care about. So it could be anything from international expansion to a cost-cutting initiative that involves a lot of IT investment.
“Care abouts” help you tailor your pitch. For example, you could send a personalized e-mail or note to your contacts saying, “I just read your company is doing XYZ. We’re having a speaker at this event talking about XYZ, and we’d love to have you attend. We’d also be happy to set up a one-to-one meeting with the speaker afterwards.”
WW: What questions are event planners asking you?
Sharon: Recently, a client asked which executives are doing something really interesting around the topic of big data. They were trying to come up with a list of potential speakers. Rather than reach out to existing customers, they wanted to proactively identify Fortune 500 leaders doing something really innovative.
So we mined our database and came up with the fact that one company recently hired a Chief Data Scientist. This is a new and emerging title, and demonstrated this company’s commitment to big data. That person was identified as a potential speaker.
Often in the event industry, someone speaks and does a decent job and may be asked to speak again. Or someone is out there promoting themselves as a speaker. The result is, you can run into the same speakers again and again, and the content becomes a bit stale.
Using our database, we can help clients come at content development from a different angle. Going back to the big data example, we identified who I call the “father of big data.” He came from an academic background and did early big-data work on loyalty programs in the mid-80s. Now he is the CEO of a casino which relies heavily on big data.
WW: What else would you like to add about event marketing?
Sharon: C-level people expect and respond to increasing levels of personalization. [tweet this] It’s hard to do with events, especially those that attract hundreds or thousands of people, but personalization can really enhance the experience.
For example, research shows the most common reason people come to events is networking. [tweet this] But even for outgoing people, it can be tough at events to start conversations. But if you can tell the audience a little bit about themselves in aggregate, it helps to break the ice.
I know Cindy at Wilsonwest uses this data to do seating charts, and I’ve seen her create an icebreaking game with it at a table. For example, she’ll let them know that everyone at this table has one thing in common, and they need to figure out what it is. This type of facilitated networking is big.
And from a content perspective, you can improve the event by knowing what the audience cares about. This goes back to knowing something about the individuals at your event, and using that data to drive the event itself.
WW: Thanks, Sharon!
For more information about Boardroom Insiders, download a free case study here.
C-Level Event Considerations, Corporate Event Marketing, Corporate Event Planning