Monday, February 9, 2009

Corporate Culture: What’s in the Petri Dish?

The culture at any Events group is a unique dynamic. It’s working in an environment that is fast-paced, multi-task oriented, and requires different functionality to manage multiple products which are in various points in their lifecycle. A lifecycle which is particularly short – I’ve been in environments where they have been from three to eight months from inception through completion.

Given such a pace, I have not seen a lot of opportunity for introspection on how culture – from a top-down level or on a peer level – can and does impact the marketing function on a structural level. To that end some thoughts on organizational structure for marketing executives on various levels of the org chart.

First, senior management absolutely needs to be a strong advocate for the marketing function for the Events group to thrive. An event has several voices contributing to its success – from logistics to content to sales to marketing; senior marketing management needs to ensure their team is perceived as an equal player, not an internal service provider. A few quick questions to ask yourself:

Is your team provided the proper voice at the inception of event? Your team not only should have metrics regarding the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, channels, etc. – they should have – and should be encouraged to undertake gathering – information on facets such as marketplace trending, and verbatim testimonials. Information which should roll up into the earliest strategic planning meetings. If your team is getting a hand-off on a campaign after dates, themes, and settings have been determined – which I have seen in multiple settings – the timing is too late; you need to ensure their strategic and tactical knowledge is influential throughout.

• Does your team influence decisions impacting all facets of the attendee experience? Marketing is assigned with driving revenue through attendance and sponsorship – too often, without influencing experiential facets of attendees and sponsors. Note I say influence – obviously other groups can – and should – have control over these elements. But your team members should revue and comment on these elements to ensure brand communication (and communications in general) are consistent.

• Is your team engaged with the on-site experience? If not, they should be. I have been in environments where this is both encouraged and an afterthought. And where it is encouraged the results are invaluable and speak for themselves. The on site experience: having your team members talk to attendees, gaining testimonials, attending sessions, interacting with sponsors first provides you knowledge which is otherwise not easily gleaned through other sources, and secondly develops and hones key skills of your team members – enabling them to further learn subject matter, and to better interact and communicate.

I’ll jump into ideas for marketing managers themselves next time (I’ve promised myself not to go too long on these!) But the central message for senior management is simple: Be an advocate for your team – continually monitor to ensure they are being properly utilized to best benefit the events group as a whole.

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