According to MPI’s recently released Meeting and Business Event Competency Standards (MBECS), marketing ranks low in importance after an impressive list of other considerations, including strategic planning, project management, risk management, administration, human resources, stakeholder management, meeting design and site management. So it’s no surprise that for many planners, marketing is an afterthought.
Most likely, this is because few people understand what marketing really is.
Marketing, at its most basic level, is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer or employee relationships and create value for their customers/employees and for themselves. What that means is that every piece of content, every visual, every interchange —right down to the attendee name badge — is a marketing tactic.
For example, many planners assume no marketing is necessary for internal or mandatory events. But all event communications are a form of marketing. If you are not making conscious marketing choices, you are likely making poor ones.
The question, you must ask yourself is not, “How important is marketing?” But rather, “What message am I giving attendees with my communications?”
When you look at it that way, the importance of marketing is clear: It is the heart and soul of a meeting.
So where does it fit in the planning timeline?
Beginning with the theme or event “brand,” marketing is an intrinsic part of the planning process. Successful marketing addresses the event objectives, incorporates the key messages and engages the attendees at every turn. This requires more than a set of tactics launched according to a schedule. It requires a strategy developed at the outset of the planning process.
Few events today have a marketing strategy as clearly outlined as the imposing bullet points MPI presents in its MBECs, which include marketing objectives, message points, metrics and clearly defined success points.
Truth be told, that level of strategy can be overkill for many meetings.
But based on the goals for meeting and your audience, it is essential for you to create a plan that will help you build strong connections between your event, company identity and your attendees. Otherwise, the absence of a plan will speak volumes about what your event/brand values — and the message won’t be a positive one.