Live communication has evolved from a niche initially seen as a below-the-line discipline to a growing part of the communications budgets of large corporations. It is growing like hardly any other business field. But as a corporate planner, you are in trouble – how do you manage to remain relevant among managers as a traditional “logistician” today?
Because pure event logistics can and is often outsourced. When a company has worked with an agency for years, both sides have an understanding of the client’s procedures and culture. Thus the agency can take over the tactical tasks of a corporate event manager and in many cases costs the company less money. Corporate planners who fail to make the leap into strategic event management run the risk of making themselves dispensable in the company.
According to the Michael Page salary study of 2014, customer event managers earn on average 11-12 percent less than their marketing colleagues. An event manager with five to ten years of professional experience earns an average of 49,300 euros in medium-sized companies and 58,3000 euros in large companies. This deviates from the average 55,600 euros or 65,800 euros earned by a marketing manager. The reasons for it are various, are based however surely to some extent on the perception of Event Marketer as operational service Kraft.
Although the event departments are now docked with marketing in most companies, events are mostly a mix of marketing and sales. Event managers have a much more direct and personal contact to customers than other marketers, from participant management to on-site assignments. But it is not a sales function, and so many corporate planners sit between two chairs as a link between the two fronts.
Work colleagues often regard the event department as a purely executive organ for numerous logistical activities. At events, colleagues and guests see you as the last link in the chain, less as a coordinator. In the perception, the task is seen as an easy, fun job, and therefore the majority of colleagues do not appreciate the actual performance.
New tools change the way we work
Even now, new technologies are already providing some relief in the very time-consuming logistics. Where we used to have to deal with many details as tacticians, in the future we will still have to deal very closely with systems. Some of this has already happened, for example in online participant management.
Increased use will be made of system-based tools. Event software will make it possible to automate large parts of the detailed work (e.g. budget maintenance, reporting, overviews, lists). Some event software is already so far that it can be fully anchored in CRM and enables a simple and in-depth customer analysis.
Another important part of tools is increasingly event technology itself. Hybrid events, a combination of off- and online event content, allow customers who are not normally able to attend an event to be approached from a distance. Print materials are replaced by the use of tablets or event apps, which navigate the participants at the event location and control the flow of participants.
These technologies provide companies with a second benefit, deeper insight into attendee behavior. Not only do they have an enormous potential to organize events tailor-made and target-group oriented, but they also allow an individual support of the customer by evaluating his usage behaviour and his interests.
Considering the importance of these tendencies, it is not sufficient to deal only superficially with these technologies. As corporate planners, we are in constant need of further training in order to remain relevant within the company. The automation of the detailed work will allow more time for new strategic core tasks, which I see increasingly in the management of participants and in the holistic control of the project.
Countless guidelines require more and more competence
Not only will the new technologies set the tone, but we will also increasingly address issues such as supplier negotiations, compliance, ethics, risk management and transparency with regard to ROI. Here, too, we need to keep abreast of (legal) regulations and take them into account in our planning, e.g. the Pharma Code. Know-how in these areas is the foundation for a strategic way of working.
If we want to effectively expand these new areas of activity, it is essential that we confront ourselves with the strategic direction of the event and continue to develop in line with the times.
But what does “strategic” actually mean? Strategy and tactics are two different things, although they are often considered synonymous. Strategy is what and tactics is how to achieve it. Simply put, strategy is doing the right things, and tactics is doing the right things.
Event managers are original tacticians who deal with all the details. But if you only work tactically, you don’t offer your company any added value compared to an agency. Competitive advantages through approaches to strategic event management are manifold.
A custom-fit live communication can better bind customers to the company and thus strengthen confidence in the company’s competence. Alignment with corporate guidelines, goals and strategies makes it easier to identify and avoid potential risks, design compliant events and ensure greater transparency. Direct, economically measurable success can also be achieved through more professional negotiation processes and the greater use of synergies.
The actual strategy starts with the definition of the event portfolio. All meeting and event types are defined and weighed up to see what (still) fits the company’s philosophy, strategy and goals. Which meetings justify investments and to what extent, which can be completely eliminated? The goal is to have a clear understanding of how events contribute to corporate strategy and how we manage to deliver strategic events.
Understand events as an investment for the pursuit of specific goals and validly measure them and their value against these goals. What KPIs do we track? The logistical implementation of events should never take place before the objectives have been set. The smart model can be used for orientation: specific, measurable, executable, realistic and scheduled. What exactly is to be measured, what exactly does success or failure mean, how is the achievement of these goals recognized and when are they measured? Only when these questions can be answered can logistics begin.
All about aligning meeting goals with business goals. Meeting design does not mean the creative implementation of events, but is the targeted interaction and communication before, during and after the event. Which business goals do we strive for and how can we communicate these goals and give them a tailor-made expression?
Excellent operational implementation: a strategic event orientation means nothing without an excellent logistical implementation of the event.
Early involvement in the planning process
In the end, everything depends on the type of communication. Therefore, ask colleagues and superiors to integrate you more strongly already in the preparation phase.
If event management has not been taken into account as a controlling unit in the early phases of annual planning, it can be a very lengthy and possibly expensive process to initiate corrections. In the worst case, the plans are irreversible and the event management is content with the role of the vicarious agent.