How to Measure Event ROI (Because Everyone Loving Your Event Isn't Enough)
When you’re hosting a corporate event, you need to find a way to justify the cost, but how? By measuring your ROI, baby! First, you need to consider what your stakeholders actually care about. This should happen at the beginning of your event planning so that you can bake it into your event strategy. Measuring something other than what your key stakeholders are looking for will yield poor results all around.
Where do you start? We find that ROI for corporate events falls into five main categories:
Today, we’re diving into our favorite ROI metric for corporate events: brand awareness. Why is this one our favorite? Because it gets to the heart of what makes an event visually amazing. When the focus is on just getting people to know who you are and remember your name—not just the bottom line, companies have much more leeway to be playful and have fun; which is the kind of event that people want to attend. When people actually want to come to your event, they get excited about it, they post on social media, they bring their colleagues, and they’re more likely to come to your next event; which helps all of your other metrics. Brand awareness is a rising tide for all the metrics, and at Kennedy Events, we love maximizing the value of an event.
We also love brand awareness because it’s much more simple to measure than other metrics, like sales. When people start measuring sales metrics, it requires intense follow-up and gets complicated fast. It requires members of the sales team to have baseline reports of their sales efforts before the event so that they can measure the change; such as length of the sales cycle, client response time, and sales volume. It’s easy to get distracted from these complicated metrics, and all too easy to think “why did we host an event again?” Measuring brand awareness keeps things compact and manageable so that you can easily see the benefit of your event.
How to Elevate Brand Awareness at Your Corporate Event
First, it’s important to note that brand awareness as a metric is best for B2B companies, not product-based companies. Why? If you’re selling a physical product, then having an event focused on brand awareness and not making products available for sale is a missed opportunity. So for the sake of this post, we’re focusing on clients with a B2B business model.
Brand Awareness Before an Event:
So you’re hosting an event—great! Now go tell the world about it, and remember your goal here isn’t to sell anything; you’re hosting a “friend-raiser,” not a “fundraiser.” Here’s how to built hype about your event before it even starts:
Get Speakers and Industry Leaders to Promote It
Once you have that speaker list nailed down, create provisions in the contract that require speakers to post about it. Get your PR team to pre-write posts to make it super easy on your speakers (and keep your message on-brand for both you and them). Invite industry leaders to share it, and give them perks in exchange like VIP access, free tickets, a table for them and their friends, etc. Sweeten the deal and you’ll find that you can get a lot from it.
Brand Your Event!
Your event is an extension of your company, and it’s inherently exclusive in that once it’s over, it’s over. So make the most of that and build hype by creating a unique branding suite just for this event. Use it in your emails and social media posts, then use it at the event itself. It should be distinctive from your corporate identity to showcase that this event is special and one-time only (even if you host it annually) because it is!
Create an Inspiring Hashtag
Get people talking about your event by creating a hashtag that isn’t simply the event name. Make it more interesting by giving people something to rally around before, during, and after the event. For example, Drift’s event hashtag was #hypergrowth; it’s applicable beyond the event itself and speaks to what their service enables businesses to do. Plus, it gives customers a chance to brag about themselves, which people love to do.
Brand Awareness During an Event:
The prime time for boosting your brand awareness is DURING the event, so here’s how to get the most out of it:
Brand the Hell Out of It
Build on the branding suite you’ve created during your pre-event hype and put it absolutely everywhere. Get creative with this! Build a living wall with your brand in the middle, create an entrance archway they can walk under, create an interactive display wall where people can play a game with your brand. Make it fun and you’ll make it memorable; which definitely increases the chances that your guests will put it on social media. Don’t miss the low-hanging fruit for branding: nametags, wayfinding signs, place cards, step and repeats, website, t-shirts, and all signage.
Interactive Stations: On-site Screen Printing
Get your brand in your guests’ hands, but get creative with this: too many people come home with branded junk they don’t need, and that just ends up in the trash. Create an interactive opportunity for your guests to both engage with and be a brand ambassador for you; doubling the effort on your end will yield exponentially larger results. Know your audience: What will they wear and use? Don’t give baseball hats to baby boomer bankers, and don’t give fountain pens to tech-focused millennials. Have fun with the details of the event by being location specific: we love the idea of giving out umbrellas in New York to promote the next event in London or sunglasses for Miami. Keep it fun and your guests will love it.
One of our favorite swag gifts at an event involved a screenprinting station. New technology means printing can be odorless and almost instantly dry. Guests could pick from four designs to put on a t-shirt, onesie, or even a dog t-shirt. People loved it and a brand activation like this creates a lasting memory.
There are few things more powerful than real people speaking about your company in a non-scripted way. Buzz about your brand will be at a peak during your event, so take advantage of your captive audience and ask them compelling questions on camera. As a thank you to guests, offer free headshots. They’ll be in the video booth already, so why not offer an extra perk and take a few photos while the set-up is all there? You’ll be able to use this content forever, so get as much of it as you can, and hire a video editor to make a sizzle reel for you. Be sure to get your VIPs, such as speakers, in on this too!
Not everyone will be thrilled to be on camera, so create another way for them to give feedback and testimonials with surveys. People love giving their opinion, so ask! Work with your stakeholders to create a list of meaningful questions (that won’t fatigue your audience) then collect that data and report it to stakeholders; further justifying your event. For immediate feedback during a session, we love to use PollEverywhere. Doing surveys with guests at the event (as opposed to after) can generate more useful, specific feedback, and can help you plan future events, products, and content for your company. Event attendees are going to be your best audience, so be sure to take advantage of having them all in one place.
Brand Awareness After an Event:
Thank you Follow Up Email
After an event is over, be sure to thank your guests. Send an email to attendees and mail a gift to VIPs and speakers. Continue to remind attendees about their experience, give them a special offer for your products, and if possible, give them a special offer to preregister for next year’s event. In your follow up emails, continue to provide value by connecting them with sponsors, pointing them to resources from the conference, and encourage them to use the hashtag.
Publish Testimonial Videos
Now that you have such a treasure chest of great content, use it! Put that content in ads, on your website, and in emails to customers. Continue to build that brand awareness by letting the customers’ experiences speak for you.
Email Smart Content to Attendees
Your attendees want to continue hearing from you...but only if what you’re sending them is helpful. Create a highlights list of best-rated conference sessions (with a link to the videos!) and curate attendees’ posts about their experiences. By sending consistently smart content to attendees, you’ll keep your brand awareness high and the recipients happy.
What’s Next for You?
Do you have an event coming up? We’d love to hear all about it. Send us a note with some details and we’ll be in touch ASAP. We love planning events that are just as meaningful to your company as they are fun for your guests.
Maggie Kennedy is the co-owner of Kennedy Events; a large-scale event management company based in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. Our team creates stress-free conferences and events with a positive impact, which allow our clients to resonate with their audience. Kennedy Events specializes in producing flawless product launches, award ceremonies, fundraisers and multi-day conferences while keeping our eye on retention and engagement goals.