Before you get too excited, we are talking business clients here, not some other sort of personal sensation. But don’t be put off – from a corporate perspective, this can be a sexy subject! It is what we strive to achieve every time we respond to a brief. In other words, we want to agree clear event objectives (or outcomes) and ensure that they are met.
In our case, conferences, hospitality events and incentive travel programmes are the way to deliver great business results. These live events bring people together to exchange ideas and information. The aim is always to improve performance through team building, recognition and rewards. Precise planning and management of the events are the keys to satisfaction.
Keeping clients happy really is that easy (ok, not always!)
1. Define clear event objectives
So, what do clients expect when they decide to stage a live event? How do they define success and can it be measured in real terms? We think so, because there are techniques for planning an event that oblige all concerned to articulate what they want to happen after the event. We use Event ROI methodology.
Financial profit or impact are not the only possible event objectives; reputation and relationships are at stake too.
2. Change behaviour to get results
It is basically about changing the behaviour of the people who attend the event (or receive a message in the case of direct marketing). The event “experience” may be designed to change their attitude or opinion about a policy, product or service. They may feel more confident and committed to “the cause” after the event. They may also feel better informed and able to inform others, as a representative of the “brand”. Measuring the effects (or results) of the event scientifically is vital in learning how behaviour changed and to improve for the future.
3. Know your audience
Stakeholders may be an overused word, but it represents all those with a vested interest in a company, brand, product or project. In most business scenarios we are retained by the principal (a manufacturer or service provider) and our role is to help them create or sustain a “dialogue” with all those who can influence their corporate results.
Stakeholders will have differing views and varying degrees of loyalty. As with any conversation, choosing the right words or expressions is essential to encouraging a positive response. Communications takes many forms, but face to face dialogue provokes intense involvement and engagement of employees and channel partners. It also generates positive messages and memories to take back with them to the workplace.
4. Manage relationships
“When do we get to satisfaction?” I hear you ask. In reality, most agency/client relationships rely on many small triumphs rather than one single “Eureka” moment. Managing a business relationship means adding value through joint enterprise. Two key elements in doing it right are to have mutual trust and respect. Both parties should be able to share ideas, but also accept constructive criticism. Those values are just as essential for harmony in a creative or operational team, a research or production unit, or any other enterprise where people depend in each other for success.
5. Make communication interactive
Communication is affected by “noise”, competing propositions, public taste or opinion, politics, economics and many other influences. When the principal decides to share information with a target audience, however big, the communication channel or channels must be “open”. In communication, hearing, listening and understanding must all happen before there is a reaction.
Measuring how well the message was understood, using scientific research is critical in the campaign to change behaviour. Live events provide a platform for presentation and also a forum for improving understanding and changing attitudes.
6.Celebrate and learn
The overall feeling of “satisfaction” is a combination of emotions. In some cases, clients are simply seeking a mandate or vote of support to enable them to continue on a specified path. Occasionally a significant change of direction may be signalled, which requires a more tangible change in behaviour from stakeholders. We all know that every enterprise faces constant competition for audience attention and loyalty. As soon as one project or programme ends, another new initiative must replace it. Learning lessons from experience and re-investing that knowledge increases the prospect of a healthy future and continued satisfaction.