On June 11th, 2018 we were delighted to welcome Heather Mason, CEO of Caspian Agency as our thought partner for our member Ask Me Anything call.  Below is a blog summarizing some of the key points and insights that Heather shared about the value of Success Metrics, Audience Mix, and Content Mapping.

The Triplets – The Quickest Way to Create Event Strategy

By Heather Mason | CEO Caspian Agency

At Caspian we believe events are more science than art – that they can be scalable, replicable, and if properly resourced, a functioning part of any organization, rather than causing harrowing late nights weeks before the big day.

But the ability to scale stems from creating a cohesive event strategy, not only for one event, but for entire series of events — which has buy-in at the highest levels of an organization.  While it could seem like this is a months long process, there is a faster way to gain company-wide input, understanding and adoption – via what we call The Triplets.

 

The Triplets are the first three of the Caspian 10 Essentials, and they comprise: Success Metrics, Audience Mix, and Content Mapping.

 

Every lesson is born of pain, and the origin story of the Success Metrics is no different.  When starting Caspian 13 years ago, we worked with variety of clients, and none was pleased by simply a logistically smooth event. If their objectives, which we were not a part of, were not met, it wasn’t successful. This meant we needed to be linked to this inside knowledge or Caspian was doomed to fail.

Once we started asking questions, we realized even some top executives were not able to pinpoint all of their event metrics.  I saw a gap. Thus, the Success Metrics were born.  Event strategy and logistics were never meant to be separated, and bringing them together felt like correcting something which had gone askew. Once we established the Success Metrics as our first step, both the clients’ success, and ours, increased.

Success Metrics starts with not only writing out the Goals, but diving deeper.  We also look at Outcomes, Tactics, and Measurements. In short, it’s called GOT’M.

The great part about this, is that when Success Metrics are done right, you are simultaneously writing your task list, crafting the final attendee survey, outlining the content, putting together the staff list, and setting up a procedure for after-event reporting and measurement.  

In other words, Tactics form your task list, your content, and your staffing, Outcomes help the team understand the vision, and Measurements write the survey, and they ensure that there is a post-event team to do any tracking needed. On top of it, the Success Metrics justify every budgetary spend, but that’s another blog.

A simple example:

Goal – Bring entrepreneurs together with funders to create opportunities for engagement and funding.

Tactic – Use speed networking as a session

Outcome – Quick, programmed interaction to enable a high chance of relevant meetings

Measurement – At least 20% of attending entrepreneurs say they have a ‘solid’ lead for funding following the conference and 5% of those receive funding within 6 months after the event

Know your audience. As any good speaker knows, understanding who is in the room is integral to success. Guessing wrong can create record-scratch moments, while intuiting correctly can mean a standing ovation.

However, while a speaker might be at the whim of the audience make-up, the event producer is not.  We can carefully craft not only the who, but the how many of each. It is this delicate, specific recipe that gives so many events an edge over others.

The key element for the Audience Mix is the ratio of the audiences present.  We know plenty of companies which can list out categories of who should be a part of the event, but rare is the organization which knows the required ratio for success. Even rarer? The team who recognizes that about 10-15% of seats will go to what we call “shadow audiences” or those not normally counted, like guests, board, staff, speaker guests, and last minute VIP or political add-ons.

Ratios of attendees are especially important to consider with relation to your Registration Technology. If you must have a certain number of X category attend, then you must pick the right technology which can select and sort for that audience as they register.  If you don’t have the finances to afford the system, then you’ll need the finances for the staff to handle the manual process. And usually the cost favors technology every time. This of course leads into why Audience Mix is linked to budget discussions, but this is another blog for another time.

And lastly, is Content Mapping in our event strategy trio.  If the Success Metrics have been done thoroughly, then this is one of the easy parts – simply look through the tactics under each goal.  If there are items which have a Content piece as a tactic (for instance, “Offer speed networking to entrepreneurs and funders”) then you’ve got a session right there. Pulling out all the “must have” content segments from the Success Metrics normally fills about 80-90% of an event.

Anything that is added beyond those needs to be added back in to the Success Metrics document somewhere.  So if you have a piece of content that feels like it must be added, ask yourself why. Then add that in the right place in the Success Metrics as a Tactic. There will be a reason, and your instincts are usually right.

And, one of the best parts about Content Mapping is that it ensures that there will never be a ‘Speaker First’ approach to content ever again.  

The Triplets are not only a creation tool. The can be used in other ways as well – on events you attend, or ones you’ve been producing for years.

Using the Triplets as a diagnostic tool for instance, allows you to easily see what might be askew with an event:

  • If the Success Metrics (company objectives) match the Content but not Audience – the attendees aren’t taken into account, and the event loses year over year attendance.
  • If the Content and Audience Mix match, but not the Success Metrics, the attendees have a great time, but the company objectives aren’t met, and the event will likely be seen as not worth the money spent.
  • If the Audience and Success Metrics match, but not the Content, then it is set-up for success, but the Content won’t feel relevant (rather like when famous speakers are chosen before content is decided).

Once you’ve completed the Triplets for either one event, or many, you’ll have a fastrack way to create efficient and thorough event strategy.  And any event doing – especially those aiming to change the world – are worth doing strategically.