That’s the question our client asked.
They were cutting budgets across the board and the VP of sales said “no, I’m not cutting my meetings.” Most of you who conduct meetings and conferences, whether for internal employees or for your channel, have been in the same situation.. The bottom line is you need to know whether your expense is justified.
Rest assured – you can measure ROI and you can prove that your efforts pay off.
The following is a brief introduction to a case study prepared by the ROI of Engagement team and validated by Allan Schweyer, Chairman and Head of Research for the Enterprise Engagement Alliance. More posts will follow as we focus on specific areas of the results of our study, but to give you some background…
An Alias but A Real Event With Real Results in the Real World
In 2009 the ROI of Engagement team took on the challenge of PROVING there was a measurable ROI associated with a conference for independent insurance brokers. In order to protect certain proprietary information we referred to the client as “Allsante” – a made up name (but the results are not!) The goals of their conference were:
- Increase reseller engagement
- Increase trust
- Drive loyalty and better relationships
- Increase awareness and product knowledge
- Update and enhance training and selling skills
I’m guessing most of your meetings have similar themes. However, the most important objective and the one we typically have the most trouble measuring was:
Change behavior among resellers so that they would increase Allsante presentations, increase quotations, highlight Allsante product advantages over others, and ultimately increase sales of Allsante small business and ancillary products.
That’s the tough one.
The ROI of Engagement team conducted a three-phase analysis of the event.
- Phase I – Reaction, satisfaction and planned action (how did attendees think and feel about the meeting, was it worth their time and did they plan on taking action.)
- Phase II – Application and implementation or behavior change (did attendees do anything with the takeaways?)
- Phase III – Business impact and return on investment (did more get sold and what was the payback related to expenses?)
Most companies have no problem measuring satisfaction. In fact, most events include a smiley face survey that asks how attendees liked the meeting/conference, if there were enough breaks, was the coffee good, or were the speakers interesting. But that’s not enough. We asked about critical engagement factors including trust, skill building, confidence and relationships.
The Key Element of Measuring Event/Conference ROI
A key element in measurement is “what happens next.” In other words you need to begin with the end in mind and plan on doing your analysis over time.
You can’t just consider the smiley faces you receive immediately following an event. Let’s face it, most event satisfaction surveys are pretty positive. Attendees are on a post-event high; they’ve partied with other professionals, made new contacts, learned some interesting things and, in general, had a few days away from the grind.
A big gap in typical traditional surveys is they don’t tell you whether anything really changed with attendees. That has to be measured after time has elapsed after the event.
Before we get into the results of our Allstante case study in future posts internalize that key point.
In order to credibly measure ROI you need to look at business impact over time.
The event objectives and data collection methods need to be thought through before implementation. Without planning you can’t connect the dots from satisfaction to behavior change to ROI. It’ s a bit more work – and something most planners and executives don’t want to consider when they’re involved in the seemingly endless number of logistical issues – but it is critical to developing a the business case for your event.
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And if you really want to dig into this topic check out our ROI of Engagement Summit at the upcoming Motivation Show October 12, 2010.