How to Create ROI for Event Attendance

If you’ve ever been to a conference where it seems as if the coordinators didn’t have a clue about what they were actually trying to promote, you know the feeling of it all being a waste of time. If you ever tried to run a conference yourself, you know that “runaway” feeling of not knowing how to focus your energies on what will make the conference worthwhile to attend. So how do you address both issues? The first and foremost thing you should focus in on before doing anything else is the topic(s) you want to discuss at the conference. Conferences that have little or no focus tend to go off on little tangents and/or get bogged down in too many details. It is vitally important that you know beforehand whether or not the topic(s) merit having a face to face conference or would be better suited with a smaller virtual conference.

Benefits for attendance

Before you actually set up a conference and/or attend a conference, you should ask yourself the following questions:

How will attending this conference benefit me? My organization..? Some topics lend themselves to face to face conversations. Other topics are best when discussed privately or one on one. The benefit of meeting new people and exchanging ideas about an interesting topic can be waylaid if there is no focus or direction. Panels and networking events are great for connecting with others that share your interests and can give you fresh insights into your business or organization. There are also highly tangible benefits in getting the word out about yourself and your organization through conferences. Conferences that succeed in meeting participants’ expectations are highly attended.

When is the best time and place to hold the conference? This all depends on your potential participants’ preferences and how conferences like yours are usually held. You should also consider times for having your workshops, break schedules and amenities, especially if most of your attendees will be coming from out of town. Some attendees will make a better effort to attend your conference if they know that there is a nice return on investment like a good hotel room and easy access to the conference.

Why should I hold or attend this conference? Again, before you start planning out a conference you should ask yourself why the conference is needed and what benefits your participants will receive. If there is no return on investment, then you may be better off just having a one on one chat or some other type of meeting. One of the most common returns on investments is the accumulation of knowledge about a topic the person didn’t know about earlier. One of the most common reasons people attend conferences is to meet others in the field and exchange ideas and get support.

How will I publicize this or how can I promote my business at the conference? You first need to focus on what topic(s) your conference will be addressing for your potential audience. Once you have your topic(s), you can then formulate where you will target your advertising. Businesses that currently promote products and services that serve your target audience could be potential sponsors of your event. It is in your best interest to reach out to these businesses and show them how they may sponsor your event. Businesses that sponsor and/or advertise at your conference can realize a good return on investment, especially if you do diligent research and focus on businesses that would benefit from the conference.

Your Next Steps-A Great PR Plan

If you ever thought that having a good PR plan wasn’t an essential part of conference planning, stop that thinking right now! It is critical that you have a good PR plan once you settled on the topic(s) to be discussed at the conference. There are a few components to a strong PR plan. One of the biggest components is planning what speakers will attend. Big celebrity speakers draw crowds, but depending on the topic(s) discussed you may want to steer clear of them. You may instead want to draw experts in the field or provide hands-on workshops where participants can get their hands dirty.

Firm up what you plan to do: This is critical. You also need to have a back-up plan in case one or more of your speakers can’t make it to the conference. Publicizing that a speaker will be at your conference and then “dropping the ball” doesn’t make you or your organization look good. The same goes for having hands-on activities due to variables in weather (if it’s outside) or other factors beyond your control. Essentially you should make sure you have commitments from everyone involved before you publicize your event.

Give your participants good reasons to attend: When you start your PR plan, it is again critical to understand and be able to articulate what benefits participants will receive for attending your conference. You can then decide what social media outlets and other venues to promote your event. Without clear directions and understanding of objectives, you will have a very difficult time creating good returns on investments.

In summary, good conferences that are worthwhile to attend provide good return on investment because they:
1) Generate new business for sponsors and participants
2) Generate new leads and good networks
3) Gain new knowledge, tools and other materials

A good PR plan will draw people in to your conference if it’s focused, clear and relevant to the target audience. It is also a necessary ingredient in promoting your business.