I recently had the opportunity to observe the development and execution of a successful event (yes, there are still successful events to be held!), Econsultancy's Peer Summit. Held in New York City on October 8, the event was invitation only, and ended up first selling out attendance prior to the event, and secondly seeing very little attrition on-site (quite a coup, given the event was complimentary).
Some background: the Peer Summit was the introduction/launch event for Econsultancy in the U.S.; Econsultancy, headquartered in the UK, is a community-based publisher, focused on best practice digital marketing and ecommerce. With an office in the U.S. opening earlier this year, the event was a vehicle to deliver its value proposition through the event's content a roundtable-discussion based format.
So why did the event succeed? It was essentially a lesson in back-to-basics – the ground-floor underpinnings that have traditionally driven event marketing success. But it's a lesson worth reviewing as the events calendar wraps up the 2009 season and moves into 2010:
1. Keeping goals and objectives reasonable: One of Econsultancy’s challenges at the outset was that it was a launch event. To that end, they set reasonable expectations and goals regarding attendance. Econsultancy has run several Peer Summit-type events in Europe; rather than assuming they could replicate their success in the US immediately, Econsultancy planned and budgeted a more reasonable attendee number. As importantly, this audience quantity (and quality) was communicated to event sponsors, so expectations were aligned across the board.
2. Defining the product (event): The Peer Summit was not meant to be – nor communicated as – an “all things to all people” endeavor. It had a defined target audience and communication plan geared to attracting client-side digital marketing executives. Being a one-day event in New York City, marketing was targeted to local executives. There were no delusions that individuals would flock from across the US to attend. And as an invitation-only event, the audience was specific. This admittedly can’t be as controlled at a paid event – but it does speak to ensuring that in whichever event scenario is being planned that key audiences and correlating outreach is identified.
3. Having a contingency plan in place: The event did not necessitate a last-minute scramble for delegates, as there were specific tactics in place and executed upon to drive and retain attendees. Secondary plans were also in place – so if there was a need for ancillary activity, these were defined.
While this is an over-simplification of what produces a successful event, it is certainly the components at the core. If any of these elements are missing in the strategic marketing and execution of an event, said event is certainly inviting itself to challenges … ones that can make the difference between struggles and … success!