Magazine article Marketing

CONFERENCES & EXHIBITIONS: How to Gauge the Impact of Events - Exhibitions Agencies Are an Extension of Your Marketing Team, Reports Rachel Miller

Magazine article Marketing

CONFERENCES & EXHIBITIONS: How to Gauge the Impact of Events - Exhibitions Agencies Are an Extension of Your Marketing Team, Reports Rachel Miller

Article excerpt

'You can't replicate the experience you get when you share a moment in time with other people, quite possibly strangers, and the experience is a positive one - just look at the World Cup.' Adrian Caddy, the creative director of agency Imagination, is talking about the power of live events.

But live marketing events, he concedes, are complex to organise and can be expensive. 'To show how it can go wrong, you only have to look at the opening night of the Dome,' he warns. 'A lot of people underestimate what goes into organising a live event. The whole thing boils down to meticulous preparation.'

Clients want to see some pay-back. 'Until 18 months ago, clients didn't ask about measurement, but now we have to justify everything,' reveals Simon Hambley, managing director of Acclaim, an events specialist whose clients include Microsoft and BT.

'The budgetary decisions on live events are now being taken higher up the corporate ladder, resulting in a demand for measurable results and a proof of return on investment,' says Hambley.

To this end, Acclaim has formed a strategic partnership with Peak Events, which produces the Peak Report - annual research that reveals the reasons why customers attend events and exhibitions. With its results-oriented approach, says Hambley, Peak can help clients deliver a greater return on investment by focusing on the reasons, objectives and strategy for any live event.

Original objectives

But measuring ROI is not easy and what makes it such a challenge is that the objectives can vary so widely from one event to another. 'Often the success of an event can't be measured in exact financial terms,' says Lois Jacobs, chairman of Jack Morton Worldwide UK. 'How do you quantify the financial value of 77,000 employees or consumers showing a 20% improved feeling of commitment to an organisation after attending a live event?'

Faced with such issues, Jack Morton has developed its own software programme.

'We use a web site to ask delegates questions when they register,' explains Jacobs.

Rick Stainton, head of creative events at P&MM, agrees. 'The best event management companies are not just suppliers that stage an event, they are extensions of your marketing department. At every stage, you have to ask the important question about every element of your event: does it support the original objectives?'

'A live event can do more than any other marketing tool to demonstrate not just what the brand is, but what it stands for and clearly align that with the audience,' says Stainton. 'A good event becomes a brand experience and an experienced event management company can encompass brand values into every detail, often in a subliminal way.'

Car-makers understand the power of live events. Jack Morton Worldwide arranges a yearly programme of events for Vauxhall where consumers can test-drive new models. Land Rover runs invitation-only events for key prospects as part of its Terrain programme. Janet Walkden, managing director of The Event Business, which handles work for Land Rover, has seen the popularity rise. 'People realise they need to get the product in the hands of their consumers.'

Most car firms offer a live events programme, especially based around the large auto exhibitions. These events can also receive valuable publicity.

'One-off events with celebrities are the best way to grab the attention of the consumer press,' says Caddy. …

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