Events aren't the easiest challenge to tackle. Corporate events especially present their own unique challenges, from engaging easily bored delegates to ensuring return on investment for your organisation.
If you're planning a corporate event for your organisation, what can you do to ensure you deliver results to the business? In this article, we'll explain how corporate events differ from other special events, some of the different types of corporate events and their purposes, and ten evergreen tips that will help you achieve success in an ever-shifting environment.
What is a corporate event and what makes it different?
Corporate events are typically staged to market externally or internally. They should be underlined with a core message related to the organisation's brand, with a general goal of changing the behaviour of employees or external delegates, such as customers or channel partners.
Your corporate event can promote a product, celebrate company achievements, unite a team or change delegate perceptions. At the end of the day, each of these goals comes down to strengthening the knowledge, affinity and outlook of corporate event delegates.
Key goals of a corporate event may include one or a mix of the following:
- Improving delegate perceptions of the company or brand.
- Providing a targeted team bonding experience.
- Motivating and rewarding sales teams.
- Generating coverage from the press or on social media.
- Educating delegates about new products or internal initiatives.
- Updating delegates about the direction and outlook of the company.
- Celebrating achievements of the company and high performing individuals.
Corporate events engage and excite delegates, whether they're company staff or channel partners.
The goals of corporate events are so important to the planning and production process, as these events hinge on delivering return on investment and return on objectives to your organisation. Therefore, corporate events must be heavily tailored to achieve their key goals without dilution or distraction. The planning of corporate events is a strategic marketing process, aligned to support the accomplishment of a broader organisational objective.
EventMB reports that 53.9 per cent of internal event organisers are tasked with planning more than 5 corporate events each year - and 20.7 per cent organise more than 16. That said, the number is likely much higher when smaller meetings are considered, as these are often overlooked despite their volume. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed claimed their main drivers for arranging corporate events were recognising and celebrating employees, and keeping them engaged, motivated and loyal. Meanwhile, over half say they have less than $100k in their annual events budget.
With such vital event goals, significant volume and dwindling budgets, there are considerable challenges ahead for corporate event planners. How can you ensure all corporate events maximise ROI and deliver on key organisational objectives, while working within a limited budget?
Types of corporate events
Corporate events can vary considerably on the surface. For example, a gala dinner appears remarkably different from a conference. Remember that at the root of all of these types of corporate events, the basic function must relate back to the organisation's objectives. Let's take a look at how some different events can feed into the same goals.
Conferences are the perfect platform for educating employees about developments within the industry or the organisation. Furthermore, they provide a great opportunity for networking and knowledge sharing among delegates. While often considered large corporate events, conferences can easily be scaled up or down to meet the requirements of the business.
A successful conference keeps delegates up to date with relevant trends and company objectives while helping them form relationships within the organisation, ultimately bolstering company engagement and loyalty.
A product launch informs both internal and external delegates about new developments from your company. While press may be invited to cover the release of a new offering, buzz can also be generated around the new product by way of delegate social media. Product launches allow front-line staff to get hands-on with a new offering, equipping them with the skills, language and experiences to sell it more effectively.
Not only does a product launch help to improve visibility for a new offering, it keeps employees informed and engaged.
A product launch can engage staff and press to build front-line knowledge and generate buzz.
From wellbeing workshops to group cooking classes, team building events can vary considerably in appearance. Their ultimate intention is to see employees working together outside of their typical work duties and having fun while doing it. As a result, they form connections with coworkers and their employers, and feel renewed and engaged.
Rewards and recognition are powerful tools for changing behaviour among employees. An awards dinner or other prizegiving style event turns high-achieving employees into VIPs, recognising the value of their work, fostering a positive relationship with the business and motivating continued excellence. In addition to engaging staff, these events are designed to directly support sales performance.
High-level leaders across large multinational corporations come together at a summit to develop new strategies, discuss solutions, and align goals. These events target influential leaders within the organisation, ensuring they remain engaged and switched on to the key priorities of the business. As with all of the above, the key goal is to engage and inspire delegates.
Tips for corporate event planning
It's clear that corporate events can look any number of different ways, but are all connected to the strategic goals of the business. Corporate event organisers have a strong responsibility to deliver tangible results with every event - which may feel easier said than done, with delegates potentially attending a huge range of events every year.
Below, we outline 10 crucial evergreen tips to help your event generate positive ROI and ROO.
1. Strategic goals should shape your entire corporate event design
The first step in organising a corporate event should always be asking yourself: "Why am I planning this event?"
Think about this in terms of both yourself as the organiser, and the delegates. While corporate events typically share similar end-goals, it's important to develop goals that are specific to your business. At this stage, document the answers to some simple questions:
- What do you and your company hope to gain from the event?
- Who is the event for and why?
- What do you want your delegates to take away from the event?
- How will you know when you've achieved your event goals?
From here, establish performance goals and ensure they're SMART - that is, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Based. It may help to write down a number of goals and narrow them down according to the SMART criteria.
With the "why" of your event established, you can approach other aspects with greater clarity and strategy. Each touch point of your event can now be considered with respect to how they will influence delegate experience and behaviour, and how they'll thereby feed into your specific event goals.
Creative event decisions should be informed by strategic goals.
2. Understand your corporate event success metrics and how you'll measure them
When developing SMART goals for your corporate event, the "Measurable" criteria is particularly relevant. It's vital you think about how you'll quantify and measure corporate event success. Determining key metrics for corporate event success ultimately depends on the goals you define at the start, however there are a few common ones you might consider.
EventMB's survey of 620 corporate event planners revealed the most common means to measure corporate event ROI is delegate feedback surveys. This is followed closely by delegate engagement and overall event attendance. Additionally, the sales impact of an event is often considered a key performance indicator for events such as product launches and sales kickoffs.
In addition to the metrics themselves, you have to think about how you'll collect the relevant data. Surveys are the most popular means of collecting feedback, but how will you deliver those surveys? Are post-event emails best suited to your demographic? Will you have more success with on-site polling stations or SMS if your delegates are less digitally oriented? Or perhaps the most elegant solution is to embed surveys in a holistic event app?
Touch points should be designed to accurately and seamlessly measure the most critical metrics, helping you report on ROI with confidence.
3. Shape your corporate event identity early
At cievents, we encourage clients to think about corporate event identity next. This should be informed by your event goals and overall brand. Your event's identity should tie into the existing branding of your company, but be unique enough to stand out. Likewise, it needs to carry a story throughout the promotion of your event.
Everything about the event can hang off the event identity, from the top-level visual branding to the unique on-site experiences and activations you work into the event design. An event identity encompasses the goals of your event and relates them into visual and experiential representations that are easily digested, immediately recognisable and distinctly memorable.
It's important to consider you event identity early, and allow it to shape your event, rather than building it around your existing activations. This ensures a holistic, comprehensive and seamless event experience, meaning stronger messaging delivered to your delegates.
How will your next corporate stand out and inspire delegates?
4. Take every measure to make your corporate event stand out
When thinking about your event identity and delegate experience, it's important to consider how you'll make your event stand out against others. Not only are you competing with third party and channel partner events, when designing internal events you also have to ensure each event you produce is distinct from one another.
Delegates attend numerous events throughout the year. For example, in New Zealand a total of 984,115 event days were estimated to have occurred in the 2018 calendar year. With every event competing for memorability and engagement among a limited pool of delegates, it's vital you take every measure to make your corporate event stand out.
How you do this may come down to the format of your event - consider what's expected of your conference, for example, and determine how you can disrupt those expectations positively to leave a lasting impression.
For some ideas on how to make your next conference stand out, read our article "How to subvert the conference format to surprise and delight".
5. Know your corporate event delegates and influencers
You're designing a corporate event for two groups: First, the organisation. Secondly, your delegates.
When thinking about corporate event goals, it's easy to get wrapped up in what your organisation wants from the event. However, in order to truly achieve that, you often have to consider what your delegates want. Remember, delegates are typically either required to attend an event or are presented the event as a reward for consistent excellence. This means they have to want to go - you need to be able to communicate what's in it for them.
Think about who your delegates are, what they want, and how your event is able to deliver on those desires. This could mean facilitating networking, arranging entertainment, wellness or luxury experiences, or hosting your event in an exciting location.
You should also consider who your delegates are most influenced by. When promoting your event, these "influencers" are a powerful tool. Your influencers aren't necessarily social media brand promoters - they're team leaders in the workplace who will wave the banner for your event, inspiring delegates and generating genuine buzz.
Understand not only who your delegates are, but who can most effectively influence their perception of corporate events.
6. Remember the power of a unique corporate event venue
A venue can say a lot about your event. A great venue inspires delegates, motivates attendance and feeds into the story your event is trying to tell.
Further to this, business culture is going through a period of rapid change. As workplaces adopt flexible conditions, agile teams and less rigid structures, the landscape of corporate events must adapt in turn. For this reason, the demand for non-traditional venues (that is, spaces more unique than hotel ballrooms) was estimated to exceed that for any other style of venue.
A unique venue helps your event stand out from the offset, helping to make it more memorable in your delegates' minds. This then encourages delegates to continue talking about your event and sharing photos long after the fact.
7. Determine your corporate event technology landscape
Don't overlook the power of technology when it comes to your corporate event ROI. While some event technology may require buy-in and upfront investment, the right tech touch points allow you to capture delegate data and feedback seamlessly.
For example, a corporate event app can provide delegates with a customisable schedule, simplified wayfinding and registration, and interactive live polling. As a result, the delegate experience is enhanced and you're able to take the pulse of the event floor in real time.
To learn more about driving engagement and capturing results with corporate event technology, read our whitepaper "Drive Engagement with Interactive Technology".
8. Choose an impactful keynote speaker for your corporate event
Your speakers spark conversations between delegates during and after your event, helping them form connections, make memories and develop their knowledge.
Most corporate events will typically feature a keynote speaker - not just conferences. Your awards night, for example, might begin with a few key words from a guest speaker or a leader within the company. Remember that speakers are often both a form of entertainment and vehicles that support your core messaging. So, an impactful speaker for your corporate event must be enjoyable to watch and authentically relevant to your event.
9. Consider the whole corporate event campaign
When you're investing an already limited budget in corporate events, ensuring delegates attend is often the primary focus. Of course, your team must work hard to promote your event ahead of time to engage delegates and drive attendance - especially when attendance is one of your KPIs.
That said, don't put everything into pre-event marketing to the detriment of the follow-up. Ultimately, you want your corporate event to remain in your delegates' minds so they continue to talk about it and advocate for your events. To this end, post-event marketing must be carefully planned to maximise the life of your corporate event and enhance ROI.
Remember, this is also your chance to collect crucial data by way of post-event surveys.
Keep your delegates jumping to share their stories of your corporate event, with a targeted post-event marketing strategy.
10. Hire a professional corporate event management agency
Finally, don't be afraid to seek support. Corporate events can be challenging for an internal team to manage alone, especially when there are only a few of you. A corporate event management agency has a huge range of resources, expertise and contractors at the ready to support your event needs.
Working as the perfect extension to your team, a great corporate event management agency can do more than simply arrange logistics. Rather, your corporate event management company should be a strategic partner - intimately understanding your business and objectives, and supporting you to designing targeted corporate events that deliver real results.
Key benefits of working with a corporate event management agency like cievents include:
- Saving time but outsourcing logistics and production, allowing your core team to focus on broader marketing goals.
- Tapping into the expertise and creativity of a specialised team, helping to keep ideas fresh and inspirational.
- Utilising existing supplier relationships for greater value.
- Mitigating risk and duty of care thanks to a highly experienced team and strong financial backing.
- Keeping a strategic partner close, meaning ongoing support of your most crucial business goals.
If you need support organising corporate events, don't hesitate to reach out to the team at cievents to learn how we can deliver tangible benefits and ROI straight to your bottom line.