Regardless if an event is physical or digital, every event has an objective. For example, the objective might be to function as a sales enablement tool to drum up new leads, help sales close pipeline opportunities, or to train clients to reduce tech-support call volumes. Realistically, however, it is likely an organization has multiple objectives for an event regardless of if it is a summit, virtual event, webcast, forum, roadshow, round table, or any of the other multitudes of events that marketers put on.
Why event goals matter.
Understanding WHY an event exists and WHAT an organization hopes to achieve is a strong mechanism to drive alignment and create an action plan focused on driving these outcomes forward. Without this alignment, the event may be fun, and attendees may cite it as something they would attend again, but it’s less likely that the event will drive the organization’s business objectives forward.
Event goals directly impact the following:
- Success. What measurements, KPI’s, and metrics should be used to evaluate event success, and which should not be considered?
- Outreach. What are the marketing tactics that will be most impactful in securing your target audience?
- Content. What are the areas, style, format, and level of detail the content you create falls into?
- Engagements. What are the engagement opportunities during an event that will best resonate with attendees?
- Stakeholders. Who are the groups and specific individuals that need to be consulted with to determine the event strategy?
Also, keep in mind that event goals and objectives change.
As an event and/or one’s business matures, event goals and objectives may shift. This is frequently caused by new groups and types of attendees, competitive and economic movements, and changing business priorities.
In the case of going physical to digital, as so many organizations have done as a result of COVID-19, do not assume a virtual event’s goals are the same as a live event’s goals. Even if a company is looking to convert an existing conference, the goals must change. Also, do not assume that COVID-time goals will be the same as the pre-COVID goals. The most successful virtual events will be those crafted for what a business and its customers need now, not what was envisioned last November.
The most common event goals and objectives.
From a broad perspective, there are eight goals and objectives frequently cited for digital and physical events. Does this mean that there are only eight event goals and event objectives an organization should consider? Of course not! However, based on our client engagements, these are the most commonly cited goals and objectives for events. They fit into three buckets: revenue enhancement cost reduction and intangibles.
These event goals focus on creating a revenue for the sponsoring organization.
- Expansion. Retain existing clients and expand the total dollar amount clients spend with your organization.
- New logo sales. Drive net new client sales by providing a “closing activity” and venue where prospects can engage with existing clients.
- Profit center. Direct source of profit for the organization via ticket, training and sponsorship sales.
These event goals focus on reducing an organization’s expenses and mitigating the potential of customer churn.
- Education. Increase client and partner expertise, understanding, and comfort level with an offering to reduce future strain on the support and professional services organization.
- Retention & customer engagement. Interact with customers to strengthen and build relationships to reduce the potential of customer churn or the reduction of the Share of Wallet.
The event focus is on enhancing the organization’s perceptions within a given segment or market.
- Brand. Create or maintain a recognizable identity and company ethos.
- Awareness/leadership. Become an industry leader or maintain industry leadership status.
- Community. Create camaraderie, make connections, and provide a source of advice, guidance, feedback, and market intelligence for a segment or market.
The Iron Horse insight.
If a company cannot easily articulate why it is doing an event, they should not be doing it. There are multiple objectives in play at any given event, and often it’s unclear which should be made primary and which should be secondary. This prioritization, or lack thereof, directly impacts the strategy but also influences how a company can and should measure and track event success.