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Business things that aren’t easy to do - no 43: Measuring the Success of an Event

Measuring the success, or to put it in other terms, justifying the expense of an event, is not an easy thing to do.

Return on Investment for events, where you do not sell tickets for attendance, can be a fruitless exercise.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Return on investment shouldn’t just be seen as a financial matter. The term ‘investment’ should also be looked at as resource, time, effort, input, opportunity; the list goes on.

There are numerous ways to measure how your events bring value to your organisation.

But first, a little story …

In the bustling world of marketing, Luke was known for his obsession with numbers. He prided himself on reporting to his leadership team about event success solely through attendee numbers. Whether it was a trade show, product launch or partner meeting, Luke’s mantra was always, "The more attendees, the better."

His narrow focus ignored the quality of attendees, their engagement, or the impact on the organisation beyond the financial aspect.

This one-dimensional approach led to events that were crowded but lacked substance.

One fateful day, Luke attended a conference where he realised the flaw in his strategy. Despite a record-breaking turnout, the event felt lacklustre. Attendees weren't engaged, and meaningful connections were scarce. The organisation's reputation suffered, and Luke’s single-minded metric couldn't salvage the situation.

As he watched attendees leave unimpressed, Luke had an epiphany. He realised that success was not just about numbers but about creating value. Engagement, networking, and genuine connections were equally, if not more, important metrics to consider.

Furthermore, he recognised that in their industry, the sales process was not immediate. One event couldn't be directly tracked to financial gain due to the industry's lengthy sales cycle.

Luke transformed his approach to event measurement, defining revised event objectives to emphasise the quality of interactions over quantity, nurturing relationships that would eventually lead to sales.

Event success was no longer a mere headcount but a holistic measure of impact and long-term potential.

His events became memorable, valued experiences, and the organisation reaped the rewards of enduring relationships and sustained growth.

The moral of the story: In the quest for success, don't let numbers blind you to the true value of your events. Sometimes, it's the intangible metrics and the patience to nurture long-term relationships that bring the most value to an organisation, especially when the sales process, or internal communication buy in, is a marathon, not a sprint.

So, what can you do to measure the success of your event?

For every event you start to conceive take time to understand what you want to achieve from your event along with what your audience wants from an event.

Dig deep, use insight, research competitors, review feedback, naval gaze; be honest about what the event can achieve for all parties. Only then can you start to define what success looks like and how you will apply the most appropriate measurement criteria.

Measure what matters.

Be mindful of narcissistic metrics; numbers and data that will inflate event success. They have a place in the evaluation but if they don’t meet your key objectives, use them as complementary data.

Look for measurement that will quantify the impact of your event.

Here are a few areas to consider.

ROE – Return on Engagement

How many informed conversations took place?

How many direct requests for information were received?

How many qualified contacts were made?

How much insightful commentary was received?

ROR – Return on Reputation

How is the sentiment at the event?

What is happening on social media or your event app?

What nps has your event received?

What are the audience sharing?

ROA – Return on Action

What do you want attendees to do before, during and after your event?

What follow up activities should you plan?

What schemes, programs or communities can you offer or build?

There are numerous ways to create opportunities to capture all this data and feedback through technology, carefully curated sessions, and interactive experiences.

Define what you want to achieve and then create as many opportunities as you can to fulfil the key objectives.

Make the Investment up front and you will be guaranteed a Return that satisfies, stakeholders, attendees and yourself.

If you would like to explore further how to measure the success of your events we’re more than happy to chat about the possibilities with you.

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