Great Event Engagement Advice for Planners

May 16, 2018 4:25:51 PM

Kim Estep

Meeting planners: are you looking for attendee engagement? Have you reached out to other planners to see what works for them? Are you getting the results you’re looking for?

You’re not the only ones asking. In fact, here at Convention Nation we consult on a variety of topics for meeting planners around the country. At the top of the list, though, is the question of engagement.

What is engagement, exactly? Does it mean your attendees are raising hands in their educational sessions? Does it mean they’re networking with each other? Or does it mean they’re asking for sales follow-ups from the exhibitors?


It’s very possible that engagement means all of these things.


In this blog we’ll start out by defining the goal, and make it SMART.

 

To begin, define your goal as specifically as possible. An example: to receive feedback from ____ of my event’s attendees who met with ______________ to solve _____________. You can fill in the blanks yourself. Maybe you want to measure 100 attendees who had leads or new information to solve a problem they were experiencing. No matter the goal, define it, or you’ll never know if you achieved it. Now you have a focus.

Next, try your best to make it measurable. That will mean that you’ll have to ask HOW successful those post-event conversations were. Sure, some of you will think that you’re not responsible for follow-up results, but in reality, most attendees measure the success of the event experience and spend by whether their problem was solved, opportunity created, or something else. An engaged community of attendees will have found like-minded people who can be a great resource, customer, or provider of services in the future, and they’ll thank your event for the introduction.


Third, your goal must be attainable. How are you going to ask for the attendees’ feedback? How will you measure it? There are great event ROI tools out there which can help you decide on a realistic sampling of engagement.


Fourth, is your engagement goal relevant to you and your organization? Do you really want to know the answers? Are you genuinely interested in the outcome of your event from your attendees’ perspective? What will you do with the information? The measurement of engagement is going to take some work, so be sure you and your team are up to the task.


Finally, make sure your goal is timely. It’s probably best not to ask your attendees, exhibitors, or sponsors about their experience the day after they arrive home. We think waiting a week is best, because the community will have reached out through email, LinkedIn, and lead capture systems. Send a survey at the beginning of the following week, and ask whether the event met or exceeded their expectations--and by how much (remember, make it measurable!). Armed with the answers, you’ll be able to tell your board or your marketing head what worked, what didn’t work, and what you plan to do at the next event.

 

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