Why Your Event is Bigger than Your Bottom Line

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When we’re planning an event, the first thing we do before we ever start talking color schemes or catering is nail down the goals and strategies. It’s the most important part of any successful corporate event. 

The first conversation with clients often includes lots of talk about which ROI strategy is best. We’ve talked previously about brand engagement as an ROI strategy, but today we’re taking a different approach. What if your event had *nothing* to do with customers? Or *nothing* to do with sales? Could it still benefit your company in the long run? We say yes, and today we’re focusing on why hosting an event that doesn’t directly impact your bottom line might just be the most strategic thing you do all year.

Use Case #1: When Your Company Has Grown Exponentially

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Sometimes focusing on your team and internal needs are the best thing you can do for your company. We recently planned an event for a client that had grown from 40 employees to over 350 in just two years. Talk about growth!

Growing that much in just two short years meant that all involved, both leaders and employees, were feeling a bit out of touch with the mission as well as each other. So, the company smartly decided to have a one-day off-site meeting to bring everyone together to focus on what mattered most: their mission and their own roles in achieving it. 

The goal of this meeting? Increasing commitment and buy-in from the ones who are doing the day-to-day work of fulfilling the company’s goals. Our client sought to accomplish this by spending time listening to what was important to people and coming up with strategic plans to make it happen. The meeting wasn’t just for leaders or C-Levels, it was for people at all levels, and it provided a chance for everyone to contribute. It was re-energizing and exciting for all involved. 

Meetings like this are amazing, but there’s a critical step that you have to include, otherwise it’s all a waste: have a plan to execute. Having a big retreat, then doing nothing with the momentum afterward only turns excitement into frustration and resentment. We always recommend that clients make at least one-fourth of the day’s schedule about executing on the excitement. This can include plans for 90-day sprints, assigning task managers to head up projects, or a scheduled follow-up meeting to discuss progress and reposition.

Internal meetings can be the secret to a company’s success. While they don’t directly pad the bottom line, the results from the meeting certainly can. 

Use Case #2: When Your Audience is Highly Niche

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We’ve been thrilled to work with ONUG multiples times in cities all over the world. From New York City and San Francisco to London and Dallas, we’ve been planning the events hosted by ONUG for the past three years; three events in three different cities during 2018 alone. 

Over the years, this organization has grown from a single annual event to three events each year. As the organization’s reach has grown, their niche within the tech industry—cloud computing—has shifted from just a concept to a useful “nice to have” tool to a billion dollar enterprise that almost every multi-national company with tens of thousands of workers relies on. Now ONUG’s semi-annual conferences are where IT business leaders learn from one another and develop solutions together in order to reliably build and run hybrid multi-cloud infrastructures to support their digital transformation initiatives. 

Sound complex? It is! However, it’s also a rich learning environment for C-level IT business leaders and their teams to find their peers—a rare thing. 

Use Case #3: When You Want to Discuss and Influence

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An event can be the catalyst to start a conversation or change a conversation, and that’s exactly what the #CASH Conference achieved. This organization, Economic Security Project, is a think tank that focuses on economic security for all, specifically Universal Basic Income. 

This organization, founded by one of the co-founders of Facebook, seeks to find out whether giving people cash is better than giving people food stamps, housing vouchers, and other resources. It’s a critical conversation and one that societally has a lot of stigma surrounding it. 

So this event brought leaders, activists, and changemakers from all over the US to discuss how to test this theory. That was the goal: to have a conversation and change perception. There wasn’t any other form of ROI besides engagement with the conversation (except press, which is a form of engagement). This particular event was launched in tandem with Michael Tubbs, the Mayor of Stockton, Calif., a rising politician who is focused on creating economic opportunities for all.

Use Case #4: When Getting the Right People in the Room is the Goal

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We love working for a good cause. So when UPSTREAM, an organization focused on removing plastic from food packaging, contacted us about the UNWRAPPED conference, we were thrilled. Much like the #CASH Conference, the goal of this event wasn’t to sell anything, but rather to get the right people in the room. The goal for the event was simply that attendees would leave the event with a more informed understanding of scientifically validated health impacts of food packaging and open research questions, as well as new professional relationships across sectors and geographies

Much of the budget for this conference was spent on travel stipends for scientists, activists, and policymakers from around the world who joined us at 1440 Multiversity in the Santa Cruz mountains. The most important part of this event was to bring together those who have the knowledge and means to make sustainable change; leaders from all across the globe from a wide array of professional perspectives, as well as cultural, socio-political and economic contexts. This event brought together two groups who seldom collaborate: scientists and advocates. UNWRAPPED provided a rare opportunity for these groups to share their knowledge and to learn from one another. 

What are Your Event Goals?

There are endless reasons to host a corporate event, and only a few of them have to do with padding the bottom line. Do you have an idea percolating? Are you wondering if it’s something you should run with? Let’s chat about it.

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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


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