By Ben Moorsom
When you’re knee-deep in the logistics and execution of an event, are you keeping the company’s brand, values, and image top of mind?
When it comes to planning a successful corporate event, there is no question that a great deal of attention must be paid to the details, such as choice of venue, food and beverage, team activities, and conference logistics.
However, a common flaw we see in the rollout of corporate events, is the disconnect that exists between these essential details and the strategic objectives of the event itself. The question we recommend you ask, and focus on throughout the entire planning process is: What is the reason for bringing all of these people together?
The answer may be to inspire and motivate people to reach a specific target or goal, to get them excited about an upcoming change, or to recognize them for a specific accomplishment and encourage them to reach even loftier goals. Whatever the reason may be, keep it in mind throughout the planning process.
Align meeting objectives
What we are seeing, far too often, is a disconnect between the sales and marketing teams and the planning teams – all of whom are working on the same event but with a different focus. If you’re going to make the investment to bring people together, you want to ensure the strategic objectives of the event – and the corporation, for that matter – are at the forefront of the entire planning and implementation process.
As we like to tell our clients: Design your event with the attendee in mind. What choices will you make that solidify your brand and message in the minds (and hearts) of the attendees? How will you strategically align all peripheral messaging, activities, and themes so that they drive home your message in an impactful way? And, how will you utilize logistics, including venue choice, coffee breaks, social functions, and teambuilding opportunities, to effectively represent the message of your brand?
Look for touch-points
This is where we can’t stress enough the value of sitting down as a team and mapping out the entire event — looking specifically at all of the “touch-points” where you’ll have the opportunity to connect with and engage your attendees. These touch-points may include anything from meeting rooms, to registration stations, to coffee breaks, to transient areas, to pre-and-post event communications, to the music you play between speakers. Nothing you do should be accidental or haphazard. All of these are opportunities to align with your message and create an experience that drives home the company’s strategic objectives. At each of these touch-points, ask yourself: Will this enhance my brand and message, or take away from it?
We typically recommend that planning teams also consider the following: Besides traditional objectives, what are the top three things you want your attendees to walk away with from your event? And, from those, what is the top one? This one thing should be made the focus of every conversation you have throughout the planning process.
All too often, planners get excited about an idea for a social function or team building activity that they’ve heard about and want to shoe-horn into their event. Before investing in something like this, the planner should ask: Will this elevate the event’s message? Does this align with our corporate values? And, does this align with our ultimate corporate objective? If you answer “no” to any of these questions, and find that the idea actually has no connection to your message whatsoever, or worse still, takes away from your message, then it’s certainly not worth the investment – despite the fact that it would probably be a lot of fun!
Bring people together
The most successful events will be those in which every aspect aligns with corporate goals and values, driving home your message in a meaningful way. It’s often these teambuilding activities or social events that really give you a chance to bring to life your corporate values and philosophies. If, for example, your company is committed to corporate social responsibility – find a teambuilding activity that allows employees to make a difference, get their hands dirty, and really accomplish something they can be proud of. A great example can be seen in an event we did recently with a client. Because we were in Detroit and the company was a strong supporter of community involvement, volunteerism, and giving back, we found a way to leverage this by sending groups of employees into the community to engage in friendly competition and teambuilding while cleaning up and working to revitalize local parks. It’s important to note that this teambuilding activity didn’t exist in isolation, it also linked to and reinforced the event objectives and messaging, therefore serving as another touch-point to propel the event forward.
Other opportunities to align with corporate philosophies and values can be found in venue or destination selection and food and beverage menu choices. Think of these as other touch-points that will connect attendees with your values and strategic objectives. If you’re in the business of promoting health and well-being, for example, consider a new twist on the traditional coffee break. Replace coffee and sweets with healthy, organic snacks and fresh juice. Remember, even breaks can be used as an opportunity to continue communication through media and messaging.
Venue selection matters
When choosing an event location, try not to plant your attendees in a city or venue that’s not aligned with your brand. Using the same health and well-being example, consider finding a city and venue that support active, healthy lifestyles (think: fitness and yoga classes on-site, access to nature, etc.) and makes it easy for attendees to walk to and from meetings and social events.
All of this being said, I do recognize that there are certain restrictions like budget, group size, and date requirements that can make it impossible to implement some of the above suggestions. However, what is vital, no matter what, is to keep as closely aligned with your overall corporate objectives as possible. Try—no matter how entrenched you are in the logistics and details—to keep the company’s brand, values, and image top of mind.
About the author
Ben Moorsom is President and Executive Creative Director at Debut Group, an agency that specializes in corporate business communication and events across North America. Since 1997, Debut has pioneered new ways of delivering strategic content and has mastered the art of creating greater perceived production value for their clients. For more information on how Ben and his team deliver better results by producing bold creative that is strategically grounded, emotionally engaging, and flawlessly delivered to meet any clients budget, visit Debut at www.debutgroup.com.