4 Truths About Successful Events - Part 3/3: Event Strategy
Every organisation has - or at least should have - a strategy. A strategy is a road map and a selection of activities that will be used to move on the road map towards the goal, the vision.
Many also have a separately defined product strategy, sales strategy and personnel strategy. But very few still have a clearly documented event strategy, even though significant time and money investments are put into events in every organisation.
The main reason for this is that events have been seen for too long as an activity that is done either out of old habit or simply for the joy of doing it. In addition, many functions in the organisation produce events, even if they are not necessarily aware that they are doing so.
So what is an event?
An event is any organised (facilitated) meeting of more than two people with a predetermined desired outcome. These include e.g. trainings, board meetings, information sessions for the organisation, sales and marketing events and hospitality events wether for employees or customers.
Events are too often thought of as only sales and marketing events and company Christmas parties. In reality, there are several events in every organisation every day.
Truth of a successful event number 4*: Every organisation that produces events needs an event strategy
The event strategy is a document that determines how events support the company's main strategy, which leads towards the vision. The following things are defined in the event strategy:
What the events aim to achieve and who benefits from them (target groups, i.e. event categories in the event portfolio)
What kind of events does the organisation use
What kind of events does the organisation NOT use
It is at least as important to define what we don't do as what we do!
At best, the event strategy follows the company strategy, is short and clear, and is also based on the company's values. Lyyti's event strategy looks like this in its simplest form.
The event strategy does't leave anyone guessing. Instead, it clearly tells what kind of events are held and why. The event strategy also includes a more detailed event portfolio, which describes in detail the events that the organisation produces, goals and success metrics. We previously wrote about the event portfolio as part of this blog series.
Without a clear event strategy, events can never be part of strategic activities, but remain as individual ad hoc projects, and in this case it is impossible to measure and manage the event as a whole. If the impact of the events cannot be proven, it is difficult to justify their place in the budget, even if they fit there as part of other measures.
If you want to create an event strategy for your organisation, first look at what kind of events you have produced in the past and which ones you think work best. See the successful events in the light of your current business strategy and think about how the events can help achieve the goals set for the organisation. Are you developing employer image or sales figures? If well planned and implemented, events can support many different goals.
Next, think about who the events should be organised for. Whose attention are you trying to reach with the events? Events work particularly well for communicating content, conveying feelings and producing experiences. Following this, an event can be a good choice, for example, to strengthen customer relations or when you need to stand out in tough competition.
When you know what the events should accomplish and for whom they are organised, think about what kind of events will serve your organisation best. At Lyyti, we prefer smaller events where we can meet the participants face to face and connect with them. We want to communicate about the effectiveness and impactfulness of events, so our own events focus on strengthening this message.
You can easily create an event strategy by thinking about the following things:
Learn from past experiences.
Decide what kind of goals the events can support.
Think about who the events should be organized for.
Choose what kind of events reflect your own organization, what kind of messages you convey and what kind of impression you hope to leave.
Define what kind of events you would not like to be organized in your organization.
Events can have vastly different nuances depending on what kind of things it aims for. Sometimes you can plan the right kind of event when you know what you don't want from it. It's easiest to think about it in terms of costs. You can rent a nice space for your event at a higher cost or build a creative event space out of your own office for less money. If cost-effectiveness is a criterion for your events, it should be recorded in the event strategy.
At Lyyti, we encourage all organisations producing events to create an event strategy, an event portfolio and to think carefully about how the participants experience the event. We hope that events are produced, analysed and developed systematically in the spirit of the Event Success Management methodology. Even events can and should be organised according to goals, and the benefit they produce must be clearly justified.