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May 15, 2007

EVENT PORTFOLIOS 3: How to create one

If approached and planned in the right way, developing an events portfolio – a thoroughly researched, deliberately selected schedule of event activities that is designed to best achieve your most important business objectives – can not only raise your live marketing to another level, but also boost your overall marketing strategy. But where do you start?

“Event portfolio planning begins with having the right intelligence to make informed decisions about event choices,” explains Kim Mhyre, experience marketing company George P Johnson’s vice president/general manager EMEA. “This means having a clear view of your business’s goals, objectives and priorities, overall marketing plans, a detailed understanding your target audiences and as much internal stakeholder input as possible. Use this information to create a marketing strategy roadmap that outlines and prioritises key business and marketing objectives, target audience profiles, other marketing communications activities and timelines.”

Taking stock
The next step is to assess your existing events – what you’ve done and what you have planned. You should also find out what event opportunities exist in the marketplace beyond your current live marketing activity.

“Gather as much information as possible about these events – event type, theme, audience profile, attendance, content focus, competitors or partners involved, budget, etc – as well as any history related to these events – attendee data and/or internal opinions on whether these events worked or did not work,” says Mhyre. “Determine what – if any – criteria was used to make these event decisions and who was involved in the decision.”

Once you’ve done this it’s time to find out the relevance and appropriateness of your existing events by analysing the relationship between them and your overall marketing strategy. This identifies a basic event portfolio planning framework that defines which mix of event activities best fit your business and marketing objectives. This framework then provides a benchmark for analysing your current event activity to identify gaps, overlaps and/or misaligned event activity as well as a set of criteria for evaluating new event opportunities.

Care and attention
“And this is only the beginning of the event portfolio planning and management process,” says Mhyre. “Once you have determined the optimal mix of event activities that best align to your marketing strategy roadmap – through elimination, consolidation and by adding new event opportunities into your plan – you will now need to establish an engagement plan and key performance metrics to assess event performance for each event. These metrics will become the key criteria for ongoing portfolio analysis and planning.”

At this stage, it’s important to remember that a successful event portfolio requires ongoing management – it’s constantly changing to reflect business objectives and a changing marketplace. However, once the initial basic portfolio is in place, the management effort is one of maintenance rather than constant re-invention.  As business objectives and priorities change, new event opportunities emerge, and event performance is assessed, changes will continuously be made to your event portfolio.

“Think of it like a stock portfolio,” explains Mhyre, “constantly evaluating portfolio performance – cutting your losses and responding to new opportunities.”

From lead generation to staff motivation
For example, if you’re company is a start-up, the chances are you’ll want to generate leads as quickly as possible and that this will be the key thrust of your marketing strategy. Setting up a key product launch, with carefully planned invites to key sales targets – and not forgetting relevant press – and perhaps extending the reach online could actually lead this campaign. So could a well-planned presence at a key trade or consumer show. Both can generate awareness quickly and effectively, resulting in key sales leads.

Established companies still need to generate leads, but also need to foster existing customer relationships – perhaps through special conferences and seminars on new product or service developments and corporate hospitality. Then there are those events supporting internal marketing objectives such as keeping employees on brand and clear on your company’s visions and values, as well as well trained and motivated. In this scenario, events generating leads are far less dominant.

You can use events strategically not only to generate initial leads, but also to guide potential and existing customers through to a sale, and employees to optimum performance. So why not get ahead of the game and start planning your events portfolio today.

Related Artricles
EVENT PORTFOLIOS: Giving your live marketing real bite
EVENT PORTFOLIOS 2: Delivering results, justifying spend

Kim Myhre will be speaking at the Exhibiting Show at Earl's Court 2 on 26-27 June 2007.

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