For event success, balance the budget with the bottom line | Jobs Reply

Eran Ben-Shushan is the founder and CEO of the company BizaboEvent Experience OS powers in-person, virtual and hybrid event experiences.

Events are critical to an organization’s overall marketing strategy and revenue goals. The most impactful events accelerate pipeline velocity, accelerate sales processes, deepen customer loyalty, and cultivate lasting engagement.

But as continued economic uncertainty weighs on executives, they’re looking for ways to maximize all budgets and do more with less, including event marketing budgets. CMOs are also cutting unnecessary expenses while making the business case for their highest marketing priorities.

What does this increased budget scrutiny mean for event experience leaders? Marketers who have overcome the challenges of organizing events through a pandemic now face a new task: aligning their event strategy more closely with their business goals. Despite events being one of the largest line items in the marketing budget, marketing leaders often struggle to clearly communicate the contribution of events to business goals.

But traders are naturally resilient, especially during times of flux. And when uncertain times call for a nimble and creative strategy to maximize all resources, your marketing team should be well-equipped to deliver. Use these three topics to guide your marketing department’s approach to event budgeting.

Know your return on event (ROE) and use the data to make your case.

As the C-suite tightens its belt to combat a potential recession, marketers must draw clear lines from event to outcome. Gone are the days of event results focusing on high enrollment numbers or well-received sessions. While important to event organizers, these results do not provide insight into the impact of an event on business goals. In 2023, I believe CEOs (and CMOs and CFOs) will prioritize event costs and the pipeline that delivers.

I’ve written before about the shift in the way marketers measure event success: away from trivial metrics like registrations and attendees and toward more demonstrable contribution to the pipeline. The convergence of economic uncertainty, the return of in-person events, and robust event management technology has accelerated the need for marketers to adopt a data-driven event strategy.

I’ve seen ROE used to evaluate event success in the past. As pipeline becomes the ultimate measure of events, it’s no longer a strategic advantage to show the ROE of every major event initiative on your calendar; it is a condition.

To show the CMO how their events align with revenue, marketing leaders should consider applying the data collection lessons learned from pivot to virtual events. In 2023 and beyond, event experience leaders should understand and communicate how events help:

• Pipeline creation, acceleration and engagement

• Committed customer revenue

• Impact on customer revenue

Event management technology can bring these data insights to the fore, improve your data maturity, and strategically tune them for better results. By integrating event data into your customer relationship management (CRM) platform (and the rest of your martech stack), you can position yourself to more strongly advocate for your event strategy.

Nail the basics and lean into the creative.

In-person events are back in force, but marketers need to get creative to balance cost and impact. Event marketers have mastered a number of evolving skill sets as virtual events evolve in 2020. Combine those new skills with the qualities that drew you to marketing: agility, speed, creativity, and a passion for building connections.

Customers are your greatest asset, especially in turbulent economic times. Personalized events are a way to connect with your customers at scale, deepening connections and gaining insights into their evolving pain points and expectations. But remember, an event doesn’t need eye-catching features to drive retention. Get creative to deliver unique events on a budget.

When you invite customers to join you, take them on the event journey with you. In the past, event teams designed with an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach so that attendees could have memorable experiences and eventually become customers. I feel that today’s events require an intentional approach to designing the attendee journey. Be strategic with your audience. Focus on a smaller number of people that align with the event’s strategic business goals. This strategy will focus on networking at your event and better position you to provide personalized attention.

Rethink the format to maximize the value of shorter events.

Virtual events have hit their stride as an integral part of the marketing mix. In a survey conducted by my company, 70% of event professionals said they planned to incorporate virtual elements into their in-person events in 2022. Virtual formats also allow you to host smaller events on a smaller budget and still show great value.

Webinars have become true virtual events, enhanced by robust event management technologies and able to support demand generation efforts without breaking the bank. Initial sales meetings also offer the opportunity to maximize virtual formats, reducing travel costs while providing cohesive experiences.

Balancing virtual and in-person events, and by extension stretching your event marketing budget to meet your goals, is all about using the right technology to power your event experiences. To strategically deploy multiple formats and drive business results, research technology can help you best support those goals.

Many of the early 2023 events were planned months ago, before more leaders began tightening budgets. But while economic uncertainty remains, so does optimism for better days ahead, as well as marketing teams’ proven “we’ll figure it out” approach to tackling challenges. Marketers know how to adapt their approaches, be resourceful and innovate.

To protect budgets and deliver meaningful event experiences, marketers need all the tools at their disposal: insight into event data to prove ROE and guide strategy and creative, to personally promote events and craft memorable moments that drive the pipeline. Finally, marketers must advocate for a one-size-fits-all approach, showing how each event’s unique goals should shape its format, and bring it back to broader business goals.

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