Senior marketing executives endorse events as an important marketing tool but face challenges implementing and measuring them, according to a report released last month by the Chief Marketing Officer Council.
The report, titled, "Staging and Gauging: Do Events Pay Off?," was conducted by the CMO Council, in partnership with the Computer Event Marketing Association (CEMA). It was based on a survey of 230 event marketing managers and 189 chief marketing officers.
According to the report, 67.2% of CMOs said events are a "vital and valuable standalone marketing function," while 32.8% said they are not.
When it comes to actually implementing events, there is a disconnect between CMOs and event marketing managers concerning the level of commitment by senior executives.
The survey found that 49.2% of CMOs said they were "very committed" to centrally managing and using events as a strategic marketing vehicle. However, only 33.2% of event managers said their CMOs are "very committed" to events as a strategic marketing communications vehicle.
Also pointing to the disconnect, 70% of CMOs said they play an active role in mapping and evaluating event marketing programs, while only 38.7% of event marketers said their CMOs played an active role in mapping and evaluating event marketing programs.
"CMOs seem to be a little conflicted about events," said Scott Van Camp, editorial director of the CMO Council and author of the report.
"CMOs believe events are an integral part of the overall communications strategy, but they don't really integrate events into the overall marketing program," he said.
Only 36.2% of CMOs said events are tightly integrated with other marketing functions, and 57.4% said they were selectively integrated with other marketing functions.
When asked to identify the biggest challenges associated with producing events, 61.4% of CMOs said events are "expensive and time consuming"; 49.2% said analyzing return on investment is the greatest challenge; and 44.4% cited unpredictable outcomes as the greatest challenge. Respondents could select more than one response from a list of 10 challenges.
Marketers are putting significant money into events. The survey found that 26.9% of CMOs dedicated more than 20% of their overall marketing budget to events; 22% said they dedicated between 15% and 20% of their budget to events; and 21.5% said they dedicated 10% to 15% of their budget to events.
However, less than half (45.5%) of CMOs said they consistently measure the effectiveness of events against marketing objectives, while 42.8% measure inconsistently, and 11.8% said they do not measure the effectiveness of events at all.
For those companies that do measure the effectiveness of events, 33.9% have an annual budget of less than $10,000 allocated to measurement; 19.6% have a measurement budget between $10,000 and $50,000; 9.0% have a measurement budget between $50,000 and $100,000; 11.1% have a measurement budget between $100,000 and $250,000; and 7.9% have a measurement budget of more than $250,000.
When asked what metrics they use to determine the effectiveness of events, 75% of CMOs said the number and quality of leads, 39% said traffic and/or attendance levels and 38% said customer acquisition levels. Respondents could choose more than one answer.
John Beering, director of marketing for Pratt & Whitney's Large Commercial Engines, said, "Events are becoming more important to us as we are pursuing our growth initiatives." The company is diversifying into areas such as jet engine maintenance and logistics services.
In the past, Pratt & Whitney participated in air shows and other related OEM events but now is pursuing a range of venues that are more service-related, for opportunities including exhibiting, sponsoring, speaking and participating as attendees.
Beering, who didn't participate in the survey, said the company is making sure it has a solid event strategy in place to meet its objectives.
"You want to make sure you have the right external communications strategy, lining up your advertising and the messages your salespeople and speakers carry, to reinforce your brand message and build excitement about what your agenda is," he added.
He said sales leads are the most quantifiable metric for evaluating the success of an event.