How to Reinvent Event ROI
by Melissa Rogozinski, Chief Executive Officer
An abbreviated version of this article first appeared in the January 25, 2022 issue of Law.com.
In 2021, the events we have all come to love and enjoy for knowledge, networking and business development were forced to convert to an unknown and untested virtual environment. However, according to ComplexDiscovery.com, there are nearly 50 conferences planned for the legal tech community in 2022, most of which are expected to be hosted in-person.
Given my own success as a legal tech events planner over the years, I have had the privilege of working with several, well-known industry colleagues and asked them how we can make events successful going forward.
As an attendee, Toby Brown, chief practice management officer for Perkins Coie, replied, “ For me, the best return on investment that a conference can deliver is when my team comes back with practical knowledge and hands-on training that help our firm improve process and reach business goals more efficiently—not just for us but for our clients as well.”
Whether your events are virtual, in-person or a hybrid of both, the following four-stage strategy should help you reinvent your event ROI.
1. Understand the objectives. What may be a reasonable plan for a relationship-centric, private equity-owned provider may not be reasonable at all for a growing startup seeking to expand awareness and credibility. Marketing executives need to clearly understand the company’s business objectives with their sales counterparts and establish the needs and goals of the sales team.
2. Select the most profitable events. Marketing and sales stakeholders should build the events calendar together, review event debriefs and opportunity reports from the previous years, and base attendance decisions on where the collective efforts are likely to garner real engagement. Otherwise, you risk wasting time and money on planning for an event, then missing opportunities to connect and follow up with qualified attendees.
3. Give yourself enough time. You can’t succeed without time to create a clear strategy and plan, which can take two to 24 months, depending on the event. Designate a project manager to create milestones, tasks, due dates and accountability, and commit to the timely execution of that plan. Waiting until the last minute doesn’t allow for adequate promotions or brand awareness, and your presence won’t be as productive.
1. Align marketing and sales. These teams should be working hand-in hand with the objectives, messaging, and outreach. Make sure to select the right staff, who have a combination of industry-related and event-planning experience, to represent your company. Determine which members of the team will take the lead on specific events and own the pre-show marketing and post-show follow-up plans.
2. Encourage creative freedom. Marketing and sales teams need to have a working environment that encourages new ideas. They must be free to experiment, try new concepts and see what works. Coordinate graphics, emails, social media posts and event swag to keep branding consistent. Curate and segment available attendee lists, invite unlisted targets, coordinate the scheduling of one-on-one meetings and plan experiential marketing activities to engage attendees during the event.
3. Make it interactive. Instead of “Death-by-PowerPoint” or a one-way channel of communication, create an engaging and conversational environment, prepare polls, planned Q&A, surveys and hands-on training tasks (not demos) with the concept or technology, and interject these activities throughout knowledge sessions.
1. Lean on lead-capture technology. Whether it’s through a lead scanner, your CRM’s mobile app, a business-card scanning tool or other savvy means, collect the information of anyone you engage who could be a lead or an influencer. Don’t rely on memory, do take clear notes and highlight the specific products or services they are interested in.
2. Manage your private meeting schedule. Make sure these meetings are staffed, comfortable and running on time. Double check that all the technology is working properly and have someone responsible for checking in the meetings and noting any no-shows. Also, ask that sales provide short recaps for each meeting with follow up actions.
3. Follow Up! Your team’s job for a trade show is to generate qualified, targeted leads from marketing and attendance efforts. Lead generation should be a seamless hand off to sales, and they should be ready to follow up within 72 hours after the event concludes. Use synched CRM, workflow rules and marketing automation technology to document, track, follow-up and report on event lead generation.
1. Leave no one behind. Load the registration, attendance and any survey response information to your CRM, making sure to map critical fields, so that the sales team has all of the information accessible for follow-ups, and the marketing team keeps them in nurturing campaigns.
Follow-up with messaging that identifies the lead’s business challenge, reminds them how your product or service provides a solution, and request an appointment. Also, don’t forget to develop separate nurturing campaigns for registrants who did not or could not attend.
2. Measure metrics that matter. Metrics like CPL (cost per lead) can easily be calculated once the budget and leads are uploaded to your CRM. Be ready to pull reports to see how the event is influencing new sales opportunities. You should try and hit a 15x ROI on the cost of the event in potential opportunities.
Use consistent metrics for events year-to-year when possible so that you can compare apples to apples and spot trends in your data.
3. Track the sales cycle. Let the timeline and the sales cycle tell the ultimate story. After three months, see which leads have entered the sales pipeline. After six months, see if any of those deals have become Closed-Wins. Do the same after nine months and twelve months.
As Thad Warren, chief revenue officer at Array, concludes, “ Now that everyone has found their own ways to navigate this pandemic, we believe that people attending tradeshows are there to engage in more meaningful and significant conversations. Event participants should be creative and arrive with a plan of who they want to see, what products they want to see, create accountability and follow through post tradeshow.”
RPC Strategies’ “Lift Your Sales” series is our response to several requests for solutions to this pain point. We have several more topics in store for the coming months that will address strategies like setting up your CRM for sales success, how to write and use an SAP for more effective lead qualification, sales process and workflows for higher close-win rates, the most important (and overlooked) member of your sales team and many more. Please connect with us on LinkedInand/or register for our newsletter here.