The Five Stages of an Event Audit: Stage 5: Event Design

Events and conferences play a pivotal role in the membership experience. If attendance is declining, it might be a symptom of something deeper.

In this five part series, we will discuss how an event audit will help your association make improvements and enhancements of your Conference, ensure that you are maximizing opportunities with partnerships, increase member engagement overall, increase your communications and marketing effectiveness, and move your association towards delivering effective ongoing programming.

Event Audits are what your association needs if you are:

  • Looking to determine the “wants” and “needs” of your community (members, prospective members, sponsors/exhibitors, and other potential stakeholders) to ensure that your delivery of a conference remains aligned with their key goals and objectives;
  • Looking to seek guidance, plans and recommendations from industry experts, as a result of the feedback obtained, on the overall experience and delivery of the Conference, taking into account the other events (and, other industry events) that are planned in your sector;
  • You are seeking advice on whether taking your conference to the next level in terms of technology and delivery (i.e. in-person vs. virtual vs. hybrid) is appropriate;
  • How to better market your Conference to prospective participants, and;
  • How to better market and deliver ROI to prospective sponsors and exhibitors.

Before you dive into the design of your event, you should take the time to cover off the other 4 Phases:

A Conference is so much more than the content delivered – it’s about networking, social activities and experiential design. It’s about the look and feeling of the event from the moment a participant walks into the room.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Flow
    • Address the flow of the event, when to strategically place breaks and social activities, how to schedule education sessions that will better engage attendees
  • Layout
    • hanges to the layout of your plenary and breakout rooms, stages and set-up
  • Technology
    • Provide areas for improvement in the use of audio-visual, lighting and staging at your conference to excite, and encourage participation
    • Incorporating the use of your event app to better engage speakers, sponsors and exhibitors
  • Tradeshow
    • The timing, layout and flow of your tradeshow as it relates to your overall program
    • How to apply your event app to ensure active participation in your tradeshow – as an exhibitor and as an attendee
  • Social Events
    • Modifications to the timing, goals and flow of your social event(s)
    • Are you delivering a ‘wow-factor’?
  • Food & Beverage
    • Making suggestions to your menu choices to surprise participants
  • Budget
    • Recommending changes/improvements to your conference budget to incorporate these changes – and determine spend allocation to maximize satisfaction for all

Does your conference need a review?  Consider an Event Audit! Reach out to us by email at info@greenfield-services.ca for a customized quote.

The Five Stages of an Event Audit: Stage Four: Education & Professional Development

Events and conferences play a pivotal role in the membership experience. If attendance is declining, it might be a symptom of something deeper.

In this five part series, we will discuss how an event audit will help your association make improvements and enhancements of your Conference, ensure that you are maximizing opportunities with partnerships, increase member engagement overall, increase your communications and marketing effectiveness, and move your association towards delivering effective ongoing programming.

Event Audits are what your association needs if you are:

  • Looking to determine the “wants” and “needs” of your community (members, prospective members, sponsors/exhibitors, and other potential stakeholders) to ensure that your delivery of a conference remains aligned with their key goals and objectives;
  • Looking to seek guidance, plans and recommendations from industry experts, as a result of the feedback obtained, on the overall experience and delivery of the Conference, taking into account the other events (and, other industry events) that are planned in your sector;
  • You are seeking advice on whether taking your conference to the next level in terms of technology and delivery (i.e. in-person vs. virtual vs. hybrid) is appropriate;
  • How to better market your Conference to prospective participants, and;
  • How to better market and deliver ROI to prospective sponsors and exhibitors.

The first three phases, Overall Data Mining & Research, Marketing & Communications and Sponsorship, have been covered. Now we get into Education & Professional Development.

This is where things start to come together – you should review the results of the first three phases to consider how to make changes to your content.  Are there delivery trends for speakers and sessions at conferences that you should tap in to? What are your competitors doing?

What you should address:

  • Address preferences as outlined in the survey results;
    • Considering learning styles and comparing them to the type of content delivered
  • Look at the length & number of sessions delivered
    • The length of the session can be dependent on the format of the content delivered, allowing time for comments and questions from the floor, how many simultaneous sessions are delivered, how many keynote speakers, etc.
  • Session types – how are you keeping it fresh? (i.e. one speaker, panel discussions, fireside chats, hands-on workshops, etc.)
  • Determine the type of keynote speaker that should be sought out for your participants
    • Based on feedback and trends from your competitive set, determining the type(s) of keynote speakers and the message to be delivered to participants (i.e. motivational, practical)
  • Set expectations and develop a strong speaker confirmation process:
    • Provide a tips and best practices in a speaker agreement, outlining any new expectations and reiterating a code of conduct

With all of this feedback and thought; what’s left? Event Design!

Does your conference need a review?  Consider an Event Audit! Reach out to us by email at info@greenfield-services.ca for a customized quote.

The 5 Stages of an Event Audit: Stage Three: Sponsorship

 

Events and conferences play a pivotal role in the membership experience. If attendance is declining, it might be a symptom of something deeper.

In this five part series, we will discuss how an event audit will help your association make improvements and enhancements of your Conference, ensure that you are maximizing opportunities with partnerships, increase member engagement overall, increase your communications and marketing effectiveness, and move your association towards delivering effective ongoing programming.

Event Audits are what your association needs if you are:

  • Looking to determine the “wants” and “needs” of your community (members, prospective members, sponsors/exhibitors, and other potential stakeholders) to ensure that your delivery of a conference remains aligned with their key goals and objectives;
  • Looking to seek guidance, plans and recommendations from industry experts, as a result of the feedback obtained, on the overall experience and delivery of the Conference, taking into account the other events (and, other industry events) that are planned in your sector;
  • You are seeking advice on whether taking your conference to the next level in terms of technology and delivery (i.e. in-person vs. virtual vs. hybrid) is appropriate;
  • How to better market your Conference to prospective participants, and;
  • How to better market and deliver ROI to prospective sponsors and exhibitors.

The first two phases, Overall Data Mining & Research and Marketing & Communications, have been covered. Today, we are going to talk about Sponsorship.

Sponsorship is a key revenue driver to any organization’s budget.   Similarly, it can be a significant investment for companies sponsoring your event.  Sponsors have a finite amount of dollars they can spend to support industry and need to ensure that they are maximizing their ROI and ROE (Return on Engagement) for their dollars spent. Based on the interviews conducted, and a determination of what your competitive set is doing, you will want to do the following:

  • Review the current sponsorship prospectus, identifying areas for improvement
    • This can include addressing the pricing structure and the number of opportunities available, as well as the layout/format of all sponsorship opportunities offered
  • Identify areas that can be added to your prospectus that will in turn increase potential revenue for your organization
    • Look for what opportunities may be “missing” from your documentation, and how you can present these new opportunities to prospective sponsors
  • Look at ways to augment your current deliverables for dollars spent to maximize the ROI/ROE for your sponsors in a manageable way for your organization
    • This relates to value for spend – what tangible and intangible items are the sponsors receiving in return for their funds – and what improvements/changes/additions can be made

That’s it for the Sponsorship Phase – what’s next? Education & Professional Development!

Does your conference need a review?  Consider an Event Audit! Reach out to us by email at info@greenfield-services.ca for a customized quote.

The 5 Stages of an Event Audit: Stage Two: Marketing & Communications

Events and conferences play a pivotal role in the membership experience. If attendance is declining, it might be a symptom of something deeper.

In this five part series, we will discuss how an event audit will help your association make improvements and enhancements of your Conference, ensure that you are maximizing opportunities with partnerships, increase member engagement overall, increase your communications and marketing effectiveness, and move your association towards delivering effective ongoing programming.

Event Audits are what your association needs if you are:

  • Looking to determine the “wants” and “needs” of your community (members, prospective members, sponsors/exhibitors, and other potential stakeholders) to ensure that your delivery of a conference remains aligned with their key goals and objectives;
  • Looking to seek guidance, plans and recommendations from industry experts, as a result of the feedback obtained, on the overall experience and delivery of the Conference, taking into account the other events (and, other industry events) that are planned in your sector;
  • You are seeking advice on whether taking your conference to the next level in terms of technology and delivery (i.e. in-person vs. virtual vs. hybrid) is appropriate;
  • How to better market your Conference to prospective participants, and;
  • How to better market and deliver ROI to prospective sponsors and exhibitors.

We have covered off the first phase, Overall Data Mining & Research, here. Today, we are going to talk about Marketing & Communications.

Your review should consider current practices used by your association, your budgeted range allocated for marketing your initiatives, and relevant marketing trends for promoting events and conferences.  Here is what you will be looking for:

  • Address your event/conference pricing strategy;
    • From a marketing perspective, demonstrating the value of the dollar invested to participate in the conference
  • How your conference differs from the other events that are planned by your organization;
    • Acknowledging that there are other events that your organization hosts, and ones available to your community produced by other organizations, but demonstrating why participating in your Conference “the one conference that should be invested in” – this may include recommendations on how to “stand out” based on what we find in your competitive set and our analysis
  • Where and how your organization should strategically promote content related to the Conference
    • Such as speaker and sponsor announcements, social activity announcements, new additions and changes to the program, through your website, social media activities, blog posts and any hard-copy mailings suggested
  • Talking points for members to strategically speak to both the value of membership, and the value of participating in the Conference;
    • For example, creating an online toolkit for prospective participants to use to “sell” participating to their superiors
  • Create a folder of marketing ideas, templates, etc.

That’s it for the Marketing & Communications Phase – what’s next? Sponsorship of course!

Does your conference need a review?  Consider an Event Audit! Reach out to us by email at info@greenfield-services.ca for a customized quote.

The 5 Stages of an Event Audit: Stage One: Overall Data Mining & Research

Events and conferences play a pivotal role in the membership experience. If attendance is declining, it might be a symptom of something deeper.

In this five part series, we will discuss how an event audit will help your association make improvements and enhancements of your Conference, ensure that you are maximizing opportunities with partnerships, increase member engagement overall, increase your communications and marketing effectiveness, and move your association towards delivering effective ongoing programming.

Event Audits are what your association needs if you are:

  • Looking to determine the “wants” and “needs” of your community (members, prospective members, sponsors/exhibitors, and other potential stakeholders) to ensure that your delivery of a conference remains aligned with their key goals and objectives;
  • Looking to seek guidance, plans and recommendations from industry experts, as a result of the feedback obtained, on the overall experience and delivery of the Conference, taking into account the other events (and, other industry events) that are planned in your sector;
  • You are seeking advice on whether taking your conference to the next level in terms of technology and delivery (i.e. in-person vs. virtual vs. hybrid) is appropriate;
  • How to better market your Conference to prospective participants, and;
  • How to better market and deliver ROI to prospective sponsors and exhibitors.

The first stage, and certainly not necessarily the sexiest one, is Overall Data Mining & Research.

  • In-depth interviews: First, you need to determine the line of questioning and objectives you want to cover with the in-depth interview.  One-on-One conversations are best for this step, once the questions have been determined, and could include staff, your Board of Directors, Current and Past Conference Committee Members, Past Sponsors/Exhibitors, etc.  Essentially, whomever you deem is a key stakeholder in the event.
  • You then need to have a thorough review of data and feedback gathered from your past conferences (go back 2-3 years if you can).

What you are looking for with this is to get some thoughts and feedback from your stakeholders.  This will also determine the line of questioning you use to launch a survey to the general public (past attendees, members, prospective attendees, etc).

The survey to the general public should cover questions that will allow you to:

  • Anticipate their likelihood of attending a future Conference, and asking why they have not participated in the last few years if necessary;
  • Obtain their thoughts and feedback on sponsorship and exhibitor participation, uncovering thoughts and opinions on the presentation of sponsor and exhibitor participation in the association’s communications, and at the conference, are in fact impactful to your membership;
  • Evaluate the education topics they would like to see offered, in a general sense, to determine if a member/non-member/stakeholder would prefer to see more topics focused on one area, etc.;
  • Evaluate preferences on the delivery format of these educational topics, to address the potential adult learning styles that are represented in your group;
  • Assess whether an on-line or hybrid conference would be a viable option for prospective participants, and potentially what an on-line or hybrid attendee would be willing to invest financially to “attend”;
  • Assess the appropriate timing (in terms of the month the Conference is held, as well as the length of the Conference);
  • Determine what networking opportunities are desired by participants, which at times may go above what is being delivered/offered now;
  • Evaluate cost of the Conference (i.e. How much are they willing to pay);
  • Other questions that may arise after consultation with your Key Contacts.

Once the survey has closed, you will need to consolidate all findings from interviews, research, and the online survey to assess and be used to support the reminder of the phases and deliverables.

What’s next?  The Marketing & Communications Phase.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

Does your conference need a review?  Consider an Event Audit! Reach out to us by email at info@greenfield-services.ca for a customized quote.

Meet Our Associates! Mahoganey Jones, CMP, DES

We have one more associate to profile, and while she is last, she is CERTAINLY not least – Mahoganey Jones, CMP, DES has joined the associate ranks with the Greenfield team.

With over 20 years of event planning experience, Mahoganey Jones is versatile, results-oriented Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and Digital Event Strategist (DES), with proven skills and track record in all aspects of meeting management. Specializing in associations and medical meetings, she produces exceptionally planned & revenue generating educational events.

As an entrepreneur herself with hundreds of events under her belt, Mahoganey is passionate about bringing event ideas to life and building a stage for others to showcase their brands and expertise. By taking care of the details and breathing personality and life into each event, Mahoganey is able to produce an experience that is a direct reflection of her clients.

Mahoganey is joining the team as our resident technical production and hybrid meetings specialist.  We are so thrilled to welcome her to our team!

Aside from her work with Greenfield, Mahoganey own her own business too – Event Specialists, based out of Toronto.

Meet Our Associates! Mark Thompson

We have another AMAZING partnership to announce! Mark Thompson is now an associate with Greenfield Services.

Mark is a nationally recognized speaker in leadership, teambuilding, motivation and human capital. Mark is also a sought after lead trainer for groups of all sizes from small leadership retreats to large groups of 500 plus, known for his high energy engaging passion style.

Mark leads active hands-on teams involved in training and development, project management and business development. His expertise is in the areas of team and leadership development, program facilitation, and innovative instructional design.

Mark holds a business degree with a specialization in human resources and management from Bishop’s University. He is a successful Ironman triathlete, youth mental health advocate, cancer fundraiser, road cyclist, foodie, international mountaineer and most importantly a proud father of two active boys. Mark is an active supporter of the Institute for Performance and Learning and The Association for Talent Development.

Mark will work with Meagan to spearhead our Leadership work, offering his expertise in Board Coaching, Board Onboarding & Training, and Strategic Planning Sessions / Board Retreats.

Aside from this amazing new partnership, Mark continues to operate his own wildly successful firm, McKinley Solutions.

Welcome Mark!

Meet Our Associates! Bettyanne Sherrer, CMP, CMM

We are thrilled to announce that we have added some amazing associates to the Greenfield team.  Over the next few posts, we are introducing you to them.  We are so excited!

With that in mind, we are thrilled to announce that Bettyanne Sherrer, CMP, CMM is now an associate with Greenfield Services.

She brings over 25 years of experience in the design, production and management of conferences and special events.

Bettyanne has achieved her CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) and CMM (Certificate in Meetings Management) designations. In 2010, Bettyanne was the recipient of the Joy Fox Award for Innovation, the most prestigious award presented by CanSPEP (Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners).

In 2017, she was also awarded the inaugural CanSPEP President’s Award. A known industry innovator, Bettyanne has been honoured with Induction into the Meetings Industry Hall of Fame in 2013 as Canada’s Top Event Planner. Most recently, she was the recipient of the 2018 President’s Award with PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association).

Bettyanne will work with Meagan to spearhead the Events division of Greenfield, offering her expertise in producing annual conferences, workshops, special events, galas and fundraisers.

Aside from this amazing new partnership, Bettyanne continues to operate her own wildly successful firm, ProPlan Conferences & Events.

Welcome Bettyanne!

Your Event Marketing Plan Should Include These Things…

Don’t shy away from these tips when putting together your event marketing plan!  Your association will be glad you took the time to make sure you added these in!

  • When drafting your plan, make sure you are highlighting both goals and budget.  What numbers are you looking to achieve?  Is it feasible?  What dollars have been allocated in the overall conference budget to support achieving these goals, and the steps that need to be undertaken?
  • Content and Management – with these number highlighted, you need to think about your overall content, and the schedule.  What speakers do you want to feature?  What special events?  What aspects of your tradeshow? Is there a Top 10 list?  Before creating anything, make sure your plan is solid, because it will affect your website, blog, app, FOMO, etc.
  • Where are your promotional efforts focused on?  Start with your target market – what does the typical attendee persona look like (you may have several) – include age, stage of career, motivations for attending, as much as you can.  You also need to include their preferred methods of outreach here (do they prefer email, do they prefer instagram, what is it?).
  • Outline your communication plan.  How much will you focus on email, social media, web ads, ads in publications, etc.
  • Personalize!  Your data is likely segmented somehow (either by membership type, or other data collected).  Use this to your advantage, and plan out HOW you are going to deliver attractive, thought-provoking, interesting content to your target audience.
  • Collaborate! You have a network of supporters – speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, past attendees – USE them!  Create a social media toolkit that your network can tap into to help promote the conference to their own network.  Looking to take it up a notch?  Consider an influencer marketing tool, like Snoball.
  • What’s your last minute plan?  As much as we want to see attendance rise over time, there are always those “wait until the last minute to register” participants.  What messaging are you planning to ensure that you capture these people as much as you can?
  • Tracking – what does success look like to you?  Is it open rates, likes on Facebook, and how these activities drive your attendance?  Outline your ideal metrics now, so that you can check-in, measure, and tweak your marketing plan as needed during the process.

Need help marketing your event?  We can help!  Please do not hesitate to reach out.

Looking to Sell Out Your Conference? Here are some Incentive Ideas

The amount of work you put into delivering a conference is HUGE – and if the room isn’t full, associations can be left feeling like it was all for nothing.

Low attendance can be deflating for many – your staff/team; your sponsors; your speakers, and frankly, the attendees that do show up may be jaded.  So, when you need a boost in your numbers, consider these ideas:

  1. Discounts/Giveaways – if you can offer a giveaway or discount that will boost your numbers, DO IT.  Examples can be “Sharing The Love” on Valentine’s Day with a 1-Day flash sale, or offering those who register before a certain date comp access to an add-on workshop, etc.
  2. Use the FOMO you are creating – we are all using social media, in whatever format, and frankly, those who attend events not only are showing up to access fantastic education and networking, but to capture the moments for their own social networks – so they can tell people “I was there when”… Association’s can use this to their own advantage.  Like the image used here, when we were working with FMAV on the Event Canvas process for the 2019 Engaging Associations Forum, we took a behind the scenes photo to share our process and generate some buzz! It’s so easy to implement this for your conference too!
  3. Target your past participants – create a special email, postcard mailing, social media post tagging them, whatever it is, reach out to them, encourage them to come back!
  4. Testimonials, testimonials, testimonials – we cannot say this enough, if you are able to gather testimonials about past experiences, and use them for your upcoming marketing plans, you need to do this.  It’s considered a must-have in my books.
  5. Personal calls – reach out to your lists – touch base with them to remind them of upcoming deadlines, early bird rates, and make sure they are getting your info.  Assess the situation – where in the decision-making process are they? What can you provide that will help them make a decision?

If you need help boosting your attendance at your next conference or event, please do not hesitate to reach out.