In business, do you take the time to intentionally build partnerships that are truly transformational, as versus transactional? Both transformational and transactional relationships play a role in commerce and that is ok.
But, I want to know: when building out big strategies for clients, or if you are an in-house event producer and carry the weight of important projects on your shoulders without a large internal team (as is often the case), do you consider transformational event relationships a part of your overall strategy?
I’ve worked in-house for a major brand leading experiential projects of all sizes for many years, and as such a big part of my day-to-day work was collaborating with external event partners to execute on the vision. In effect, I knew that a big part of my job description (written or not) was to ensure positive and supportive relationships outside of the walls of the corporation and part of my role was to build a team of brand gladiators for the company: a troupe of select event partners that cared just as much about the company and the outcomes as I did.
When asked about my time in-house at the corporation, and how I built a multi-million dollar strategic event portfolio that didn’t exist when I started the job, my answer is always the same: I did it through the power of transformational relationships with my event partners.
This is how I learned to be an Evergreen Client, and why it is a critical part of an overall strategy.
I borrowed the term “evergreen” from the product/technology side of the business, which is when a product constantly remains relevant and effective for customers as time goes by. If a product or solution is truly evergreen, it will be able to easily keep up with the continuous evolution of business applications even with associated complexities.
I love the term “Evergreen Client” in this context because it has dual meaning and applications:
- Be the in-house event producer who invests ample time on keeping select event partners involved in overall strategy and in-the-know on important influential business decisions.
- Be the freelance event producer who builds strong relationships with event partners year over year and authentically ensure your event partners feel invested in your client brand.
Here’s how (and why) to be an Evergreen Client:
- Play the long game with your event partners, agencies and freelance event producers.
Bring partners to the table early and often, investing time into a smaller list of event partners. Make phone calls to your partners, between projects, as various unique business shifts happen for the overall corporation or brand – keep them in the know on what is important to the company and how it all impacts future event strategy.
This usually results in your event partners being in lock-step with you and they are often ready to be engaged on a project pretty quickly without much bringing up to speed.
A slightly more contentious final thought on this point is, do away with RFPs. Stand tall with your executives or decision makers, and show them that strategic and cost effective relationships are fostered in person, year over year, in the trenches, we versus on paper. Call your fellow event professionals for referrals or references, interview potential new partners at length, and take a peek at sample work, but avoid the need for a traditional RFP wherever possible.
- Share company/client philosophies and context; not just a brief.
This one is so important! Spend a good amount of time sharing context, background, why the tactic or event matters so much, where the vision was generated from, what lies ahead for the company and particularly, how the event strategy layers into overall company strategy. These bits of context are so important for event partners to know.
- Care for event partners like family.
Don’t ask for more than is humanly possible, and don’t assume that a 16 hour day onsite is ok because “it just needs to happen.”
An easy example to measure for this one is: think about the F&B you have onsite for all event partners and crew, acknowledging they are humans too! Gone are the days when lasagne and pizza is a professional level of food for your onsite teams. It is my philosophy that a nourished and cared-for event team results in deep care for the client brand. Event producers, it is your responsibility to ensure a safe and productive environment for your event partners to work in, and the more time you spend on this, the more value your end client will receive.
Why are these strategies so important for in-house producers to consider?
1.Get more out of your investment.
Hiring a freelance event management team who has truly transformational relationships within the events industry will yield you extraordinary results. Your producer’s partners become evangelists for your brand, willing to go above and beyond, giving you/your brand first priority over other demands. This may seem simple, but hiring event producers who say they prioritize event partners yet don’t truly think of what’s best for their partners will give you a different (read: lower) level of excellence than the former.
2.Build an “always on” mentality with your external partners.
Gain confidence that your key external partners are in lock-step with you as you navigate the complexities of working in a big brand. There is no better feeling than bringing an event partner or external co-producer to the table that is already up to speed and knows the brand philosophies almost as well as you do. This will give you more time, comfort and freedom to create the best possible solutions for your company.
So, ask yourself: are you an Evergreen Client?
Lisa Marks is owner of Brand Alive Inc, a Western Canadian corporate event strategy and management company that aims to build culture in everything they do. brandalive.ca and @brandaliveinc