Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Event Marketing Shouldn’t Overlook Onsite Surveys

I’ve been involved with some onsite event evaluations of late. It’s absolutely not the most exciting or engaging topic but one worth revisiting, as I’d suggest it’s an avenue too often overlooked in gathering marketing intelligence.

As I think about it, I do not recall seeing an organization which engaged the Marketing Department in developing these surveys – they are seen much more something to be handled by event producers focused on content and operations teams’ looking for feedback on the physical attributes itself. Which is fair enough, there is an inarguable need for these as feedback channels. However, marketing needs to be proactively involved in the formulation of the survey as well.

For example (and not to be critical of it), the survey I refer to above was multiple pages. The attendee was only required to answer one or two questions on many of the pages, the fact is that as an attendee, I would have been daunted by the size of it. And many people who responded were – reviewing these particular surveys, few were complete. In addition, within the context of the questions – which drilled down on food, venue, whether attendees preferred standing microphone, roving microphone, written question, etc. for Q&A did not ask the simple question: “What was the most valuable aspect of this event for you?” Again, this is not to be critical of this particular survey, I’ve seen many which have, in not having marketing input, have missed out on a chance to gain key insight.

And as Marketing Departments get more involved in the onsite survey development, a few thoughts to leverage their effectiveness: 
  • Vet the survey prior to printing: Onsite surveys are, by definition, an inward-looking document, and it is too easy to get involved in internal thought/process in formulating questions. Give the survey to an outsider – spouse, friend, etc. – and ask “does this make sense to you?” The input from an outsider can be eye-opening.
  • Ask actionable questions: drill-down questions are fine, but ask and include questions you can influence or provides insight to help you deliver a better product. In some form (graded scale, Yes/No, etc.) questions like “what is the value add?,” “why did you attend?,” “how did you first hear about this event?” (Even more important as the influence of social media grows) are invaluable.
  • Think through formatting: This can be tricky, but make sure responses to questions all receive equal treatment in layout. I recently saw a survey with a fairly benign question with response heavily weighted towards one answer – and I could not help think it was because the response was positioned at the end of the question, with the remaining dropping down to the next line.
  • Think green!: There are a multitude of online survey tools available; if you have not already considered it, think about using these as opposed to paper surveys. Outside of saving forests, this presents quicker response time, better ability to analyze responses, etc. I was at an event where a colleague with a hand-held got his Survey during the event’s evening reception. Certainly made the survey front-of-mind for him!
So again, as 2009 winds down and 2010 ramps up, one small “to do” for event marketing leaders to add to their list of New Year’s Resolutions is go get pro-actively involved in the onsite survey development and dissemination processes.

Good luck! And Happy Thanksgiving to those stateside!


1 comment:

  1. John, you inspired me to share my thoughts on improving evaluation forms:

    Thanks for your insight!

    Ginger Donnan
    President, Ginger Donnan Events