Finding “Purpose” In Your 2019 Event Goals

Congrats. You’re bringing all your people together for an annual conference in 2019… but should you be? It might seem illogical for a corporate event management agency to pump the brakes on the event planning process, but give me 300 – 400 more words to explain and then I’ll let you get back to that three-ring binder. If you’ve worked with CPG Agency to design a corporate event, you know that our process begins with getting investment in the purpose or goals of the event before going any further down a design strategy rabbit hole. Essentially, we consider this:
What’s the belief that needs to change to effectively drive the business forward post-event?
So many planners look at event ROI as a hazy, immeasurable outcome, but when you shift the goal posts and focus on ROO (Return on Objectives) for specific business outcomes – you can pick apart each aspect of your event to drive real change through that lens. The St. Louis Business Journal recently published Chris Rauber’s article, A Successful Meeting Starts Here. In it, Rauber follows this line of thinking, saying, “…Without clearly defined objectives, your next meeting likely will be little more than an expensive waste of time.”
CPG leverages events as brand assets for clients by focusing on “Belief Through Experience.”
What does that mean? By instilling belief or buy-in from attendees at an event using key pillars of the human experience like education, motivation and recognition, you create brand advocates onsite who will go back home after the event and preach this new brand gospel, thereby shifting a moment into a movement. Rauber doubles down on the futility of designing events without purpose in his interview of Kristi Casey Sanders, Director of Community at MPI. She explained that if your meeting purpose isn’t clear to your attendees, “You’ll end up wasting your money.”

So, where does your event purpose come from?

Simple: What business outcomes will positively grow your business in the coming year? As we said earlier, what belief (held by your people) is standing in the way of making that happen?

How do you decide which business outcomes to choose?

Get a team together! Beyond the executives’ opinion and alongside the event planning team and members of leadership, find the rising leaders and past attendees who represent the best insight into what works, what doesn’t and what the most effective ways to affect change may be. We call this group an Engagement Council. Sanders recommends building “a meeting framework in which you look to achieve at most three to five objectives.” At CPG, we recommend that those three to five objectives fall under the umbrella of one central theme or purpose. The strategic event framework spells out how that theme will play out across every phase of the event.

Why build an entire event framework around one idea?

By challenging your event to keep an organizing principle or central thought – you can combat information overload and shake off all of the extra content, time and resources that are spent outside of achieving that business outcome. All of the extra education that planners feel like they need to cram in to justify the in-person investment ultimately ends up getting in its own way. Our design partners at Maritz Travel make it a point to design every people impression to solve for a business outcome. It’s right out of the CPG playbook and one of the reasons we work so well together to weave a business purpose throughout every phase of the attendee journey. Now, back to the ROO performance: Rauber points out that executives struggle with guidelines around measurement to begin with, “except to say that its value must tie directly to your company’s specific goals and the metrics used to track performance following a get-together.”

But how do you measure “belief” at an event?

Measuring thoughts and beliefs may seem ambiguous and impossible, but not when you break it down to a clear-cut measure of “what do you believe about this now” and “what do you believe about this after.” That’s the framework of CPG’s proprietary measurement survey tool, the Engagement Quotient, which benchmarks belief before the event and revisits it after to help brands see consistent movement as a result of their face-to-face event.
In the end, you must connect your people to purpose in order to grow.
When using live events as the vehicle for change, your people have to believe it’s worth it. Maybe they’re motivated by reward or recognition or through contributing to a cause – just make sure the event is engaging and clearly presents that “belief” so it can be the catalyst to drive change. And if you end up needing help, believe that CPG Agency is here to partner on designing your transformative brand experience with you.