Optimizing Your Event Portfolio

This is a guest blog by Liz Lathan, CMP.  Liz is an event marketing professional with a background in high-tech and non-profit associations. Liz holds the CMP designation from the Convention Industry Council, and she is also the past Chairman of the Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA).


As your organization grows, you are beginning to manage a lot of events. You are being asked to report on results, return on investment, pipeline generated, revenue closed as a result of your events, and your team is spending more and more time evaluating opportunities for your next event engagement. So how do you make sure you are making the right decisions?

Like most companies, you probably go to some events because your sales team needs to support a customer, or an executive is interested in launching a product during a keynote, or someone just really likes to play golf with their customers, or you have a group of competitors going so you must be present (even though you don’t have a track record of ROI at the show).

You probably also have all the events where lead gen is job #1 and you have a solid track record of highly qualified leads (or a least a lot of leads). And then there’s that set of C-level events that your execs want you to run… So how do you know if you’re choosing the right events for long-term success?

I like to describe event portfolios as bouquets of flowers. The roses are your C-level events. The carnations are your lead gen events. The baby’s breath are those corporate sponsorship activations that keep the brand top of mind. Together, the flowers make a great bouquet, but individually, each flower has its own attributes; a.k.a. success metrics.

The secret formula is to start by identifying your corporate (or business unit) objectives.

If you are in awareness mode with your brand or product, you might focus more on brand awareness sponsorships and lead generating activities, and maybe some thought leadership events with the C-suite.

If you are in acquisition mode, you’re pretty much targeting lead generating activities for your sales team.

If you are in development and retention mode, you may focus on sponsorships and C-level activities, and opportunities to bring your customers together for upsell or loyalty.

But all of your events must tie to key metrics in order to know what to focus on.

Ideally, your C-level events are going to come with long-term pipeline and revenue numbers by associating those campaign members with active opportunities in your CRM system. If you are not currently using a CRM system to track the success of leads and relationships generated from your face-to-face events, then you’ll want solid sales anecdotal reports on the effectiveness of the engagement.

If you are unable to tie real opportunities or revenue to a C-level event, you need to get data to prove deal acceleration as a result of your event. in other words, was a deal pushed further down the sales funnel due to the content or relationships built at your event?

For your lead gen events, if you are using any kind of CRM system throughout your sales teams, this should be relatively easy to tie to pipeline. Once an attendee (or campaign member) is associated with an opportunity or revenue, you begin to see the value of the event.

If you are not using a CRM, or have dissimilar processes across your organization, this is an organizational challenge you’ll want to tackle first. Without the ability to measure the value of the leads you are producing, you won’t be able to evaluate your event’s effectiveness.

Sponsorships are a little more tricky. If it is a sponsorship in name and logo only, then your best hope is to measure using standard media metrics of impressions. However, if you are able to activate that sponsorship with an experiential element, you can get more detailed with leads, social media conversation density, or other engagement metrics.

It’s highly likely that you’ll end up with a balanced portfolio of lead gen, executive, and brand awareness events, but you may weigh more heavily toward one event type as it aligns to your corporate objectives.

No matter what your bouquet looks like, the most important piece is that you have some sort of consistent measurement in place by event type so you can reconcile your spend against investment or objectives.

You’re sure to have a few misses amongst your portfolio, but just weed out those dead or dying flowers and keep your bouquet looking fresh and beautiful!

For some tips regarding how you can go about doing this with a data-driven approach, read Vinay Iyer’s blog titled, “A Data-Driven Approach to Event Portfolio Management”. Vinay is the founder of Goombal, an Event Lifecycle and ROI Management solution, and he has an innovative solution that makes me excited about the future of event marketing!