The ultimate goal of events is to change the behaviour of members of the defined target groups in the desired direction, either by reinforcing positive behaviour or by generating new behaviour. Changing behaviour requires a change in attitude, and attitude is influenced by providing new information through learning. For example, the Event ROI Methodology is based on this fact and its identification.
How can the desired change in behaviour be identified, and how does that affect the planning and execution of events?
The answer to the latter question is: in every way. It is the goals of the event derived from the strategic and operational activities of the organizing organization. Through the defined objective(s), target groups can be identified, and the event’s communication, content, methods, and techniques, as well as the areas required for the aftercare phase, can be planned and implemented. In the end, all the chosen solutions should, in one way or another, support the realization of the set goals for the event. So, set objectives should be internalized until they are crystal clear in the minds of everyone involved in the various stages of the event.
During my career, I have received thousands of event briefs. Only in a small number of them were objectives already sufficiently clear, realistic, and measurable. In my opinion, the most challenging part of our job is to set accurate goals that are the right kind for the event. Our job as professionals is therefore to help our clients to set and crystallize objectives that are clear and unambiguous. The SMART method is a great tool for this. The method is based on five points, all of which should be realized for each goal to be set. According to SMART, each objective should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. After this clarification phase, we can start our planning in order to achieve these goals.
The method I have found useful for processing goals further to fully crystallize them is objective, conducted and facilitated workshops with the client. It is about defining and crystallizing goals, and the objective of the session is to properly define all the goals for the event.
After defining the main objective(s), the event’s target groups can be examined in more detail to identify the most important target groups and their representatives. In other words, the aim is to identify the key actors whose behaviour affects the set objectives. Once the target groups and their key players have been identified, it is necessary to ascertain the kind of information that is required to change their attitude and behaviour. Target group analysis is a great way to achieve this together with a customer. The analysis involves identifying and prioritizing all the event’s target groups and identifying the desired changes in behaviour. The analysis covers not only the desired change in behaviour, but also the required change in required attitude, and identification of the required learning chain for each target group. At the same time, if necessary, this makes it possible to set separate targets for each target group and to identify measurable actions. If needed, the analysis can be deepened so that individual goals can be set for all or the most significant individuals in the target groups, and actions and tasks that support the achievement of set goals can be derived. More on this in future blogs.
Goal-oriented event marketing projects require a lot of information from the customer, and their key people must be involved in the project and given clear instructions and well-defined tasks – of course, by providing tools, solutions, and schedules for carrying everything out. The key to this is, therefore, close cooperation between the event agency and the client. The turnkey principle does not apply here – at least not in the first projects to be implemented. If the procedure has not been used before, this may initially seem tedious to the customer. However, the results of the event will be significantly improved and will reward and engage customers and offices to work more closely together in the future as well.
Properly defined goals thus create a starting point for all actors to plan and implement a successful event that achieves the set goals. Good goals also make it possible to measure results to verify what has been achieved. We should therefore always guide and facilitate our customers along a goal-oriented and productive path.
Juhapekka Koppanen, MA, MSSc
CEO, Event Metrics