Social Darwinism argues that progress is a result of conflicts in which the fittest or best-adapted individuals or societies prevail. The event industry is in the midst of such a conflict and you need to decide which path you want to take; do the work to adapt and evolve or do nothing and at best languish; at worst, get left behind or replaced.
Despite the armies of talented event professionals who buoy our industry, meeting planning is still viewed as a profession that requires little to no formal training. Part of the blame for that misconception lies with us. For as good as most of us are at what we do, we’re going about it the wrong way. The result of our misguided efforts is ubiquitous; long hours, inadequate budgets, salaries that, if calculated hourly, would make a job at the local fast food joint more cost-effective, and a general sense of not being considered an equal by the executive team.
Here’s the simple math: employees are judged through two lenses—those who make money for the company and those who do not. Fall into the former and you are recognized, celebrated, heard and respected. Fall into the latter and, well, see the paragraph above. Change that paradigm and everything else follows.
So how do you shift your events so that they are seen as investments rather than expenditures? Strategic planning. By harnessing the untapped power of events and turning them into tools that shorten sales cycles and bring marketing messages to life, they become the quintessential vehicle to add to the bottom line.
The difference is in your approach. Put the ‘to do’ list aside—important though it may be—and instead focus on the strategic goals that your executives must hit. Those priorities trickle down throughout the organization, including events. That is why it is critical that you make sure your events bring the organization closer to achieving those goals. The process is complex, yet simple. Understanding what specific goals an event is designed to achieve leads you to discovering what your target audience needs. Give them what they need, and their actions will support the achievement of the organization’s goals. When you know what your audience needs, deliver it and keep delivering it throughout the year so the message is reinforced, the learning process continues.
From there, it’s all about monitoring and measuring. What content was the most valuable and how is it being applied? What didn’t stick and needs reinforcement? What’s changing as a result of the content that was created for and presented at the meeting?
It all comes down to a five step Strategic Planning Process:
- Host a master discovery session
- Host a discovery session for each meeting
- Conduct data discovery
- Plan strategic content creation
- Measure and monitor
These steps, when followed correctly, will take you from the ballroom to the boardroom in a year’s time. The view from the top is worth the effort. Join me. It’s great up here!
Christy is the founder of and Master Strategist at Strategic Meetings & Events, an international, award-winning strategic planning firm. A lifelong learner, intellectual philanthropist and author, she taught college-level strategic planning for 10 years which helped inspire her book, “The Strategic Planning Guide for Event Professionals.” Christy is deeply committed to giving back to everyone she meets and strives to contribute as much positive energy and effort as she can to the world. She would love to hear your story and find a way to help you achieve your goals.