In this episode, I am going to talk to you about how to be a goal digger, what’s that I hear you cry? Well, it’s all about how setting effective goals can help you have more impact with your comms activity. I am using an example of a campaign I ran to explain this in details, where the activity was a business event, but the goal was much more than that.

You will learn:

  1. Why it’s important to set strategic goals as part of your event plan
  2. The common reasons why most people do not set goals for events
  3. An example of an initiative I helped launch and the results it achieved 

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Full Transcript

Emma Drake:
Hello, and welcome to this episode of Communication Strategy That Works, with me, Emma Drake.

So today I’m going to talk to you about how to be a goal digger. Now, what do I mean by that? Well, this is all about setting goals and in particular, given the time of year, this is about how to make sure your virtual or in-person event hits the mark with attendees. And gives you the value you need for spending the time out the office by setting effective goals.

You will learn why it’s important to set strategic goals. You will learn some of the common reasons why people don’t. And I’ll also talk you through a real-life example, so you can have a realistic idea of how this can be done.

So let’s get started. So it’s events season, again! October to March, in particular in the U.K., but actually pretty much worldwide, tends to be business-to-business event season. Albeit, this year is a slightly different one to usual. There’s more online events, whether that’s Facebook Lives, or webinars, or online panel talks, or round table discussions.

a business event can be a really effective way of creating brand awareness for you, your project, or your product or service, or your brand. This is particularly true if you are speaking at the event, you can create quite a lot of authenticity by sharing your knowledge and your experience of your industry. This event season, I want you to be really clear about why you are attending, taking part, or even running a business event.

I want you to make more impact with that event and make sure that that time spent away from the office is worthwhile. One of the things I’m always asked about at this time of year, clients and people that I work with, is how do you measure the effectiveness of the communication activity when attending or running a business event? My initial answer is, “Well, why are you doing this? Why are you leaving the office and spending your time on attending or running this event, when you could be doing something else? Why have you chosen this to do? And why are you spending your time on it?” The answer I get varies a lot from, “Not sure,” to, “Well, I want to get more known,” to, “Well, everyone’s doing it so it must work, right?” Through to, “Well, my biggest competitor is going to be there. So I need to be there too.” Well, wrong. These are all reasons not to spend your money and your time, your precious time on attending, in particular, a business event.
Now, the overarching objective may well be brand awareness. And do you know what? That is absolutely fine. But to be effective, we need to break down what brand awareness means for you, for your business event.

One of the reasons that you need to set goals is it’s actually impossible to be specific about why you are doing the activity, unless you have a strategic goal in mind. It’s also important that you have a strategic goal so you can measure the impact. Why spend that time out of the office and all that money, if you can’t measure the real impact of that business event? It sounds simple, right? But so many people get this vital step wrong in their planning process, in the chase for being on that speaker platform, or developing that really exciting go-to piece of content that they’re going to showcase, or product they’re going to showcase on their stand. If you don’t have a strategy for what you actually want to achieve, you will spend a lot of time and money without really understanding what you got out of it.

So ultimately, by having the right goal, it means you spend your budget effectively. It means you can brief the right content in from the start. It means you can hire the right team to help you. And you also achieve your business goals, as it’s important to make up that time spent out the office.

Some examples of strategic business or project goals are, increasing sales or product or service, attracting and retaining more staff, increasing signups for a particular service or product, generating warm leads for business, generating traffic to a new website, for example, or maybe just generating more interest or engagement with your program or project.

Once you have your strategic goal, you can start to break that down and go, “Okay, what does success look like? How are we going to know we’ve achieved that? How are we going to measure it? And what are we going to be looking for?” And then you can put in your markers for measurement. And I’ve got another episode just on measurement and evaluation, which you might want to have a listen to. It goes into things in a little bit more detail.

In my experience, across 20 years of doing this, I’ve completed projects with strategic goals and without them, by far, the most successful are the ones with a strategic goal, because everyone gets a result. So I wanted to share with you an example of a campaign that I led for a U.K. architecture practice, which was a business-to-business event. And it was shortlisted for an award, actually, by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, which is a U.K. governing body for public relations here in the U.K. The goals were to create and deliver an event, with key people from across the built environment industry, to start a thought leadership campaign, to enable great places to be built, but also to formulate an event for business development, to engage new clients and strengthen existing relationships.

I think the big thing for me was going into the event, we chose a symposium style of event. Because of the strategic goals in place, we knew we needed to get really quality debate and content out this event. So you can start to see already, that by thinking from a strategic goal perspective, it started to inform the content of the event. So that’s everything that we needed from literature, to the speakers, to what they spoke about, to the sort of people we invited. With the strategic goal in mind, and working back from there, you generate a much richer event content plan and event strategy.

So for this event, that meant thinking about, “Okay, so what happens after the event? What do we want to happen?” And that actually led to, “Well, what we really want to do is have something that has a shelf life, and also we can use for marketing the brand, and the products, and services long after the event.” That led to the concept of creating 10 Essays to Shape Future Places. In turn, that led to inviting key industry figures to help shape the content for the event, to help shape the discussion topics, and to ultimately contribute 10 essays towards this book.

Now, with all this talk of marketing and sales, it’s easy to forget that, actually, one of the overarching objectives here was brand awareness. And we broke that down into strategic goals, but ultimately, it was about brand awareness. Now this event did that. We had a huge amount of support from a wide ranging, cross section of the industry. We had great speakers, that were leading figures in their particular topic areas and they went out and they talked about this. It galvanized support for this really important topic, which is shaping better places for all of us to ultimately live in.
Emma Drake:
Now, it doesn’t matter what size your business is. You can apply this thinking to your growing business, if you just stop and think about what it is that you’re trying to achieve. Yes, this event was a larger event maybe, but this was still a small-to-medium size enterprise in their sector. This is not a big corporate. You can have a lot of impact with a bit of thought and really thinking about what it is you’re trying to achieve.

So I think you can see, already, with this example, that by starting with a strategic goal and working back from there, you ultimately develop a much richer event experience. In this case for organizing an event, but this can be easily transferred into attending an event, or speaking at an event. And it can help with your long-term marketing goals, if implemented effectively. So ultimately the event was a real success because we really thought long and hard about what the strategic goals were, which allowed us to really, really hone down on what the content should be and what the format should be to generate that sort of content.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and you’re going to go forth and set goals for your events. You’ve learned why it’s important to set strategic goals as part of your event plan, the common reasons why most people don’t and an example of a successful goal-led business event.

So finally, thank you so much for listening today to the Communication Strategy That Works podcast. I’m Emma, and don’t forget to check my show notes for those links that I mentioned. I’d also love it, if you would subscribe to my podcast and leave a review, and please share this within your networks, if you think there’s someone that could benefit from listening too. So I’ll just say bye for now and speak to you next time.