The Rise of Event Strategists: New Skills to Focus On

Event planners’ roles are shifting to event strategists. Here are five new skills to focus on

When it comes to events, the words “plan” and “strategy” are often used interchangeably. However, while the word meanings are pretty similar – a method for achieving an end – there are distinct differences between the two: event strategists

  • A plan is a detailed program or pattern for a definite purpose.
  • A strategy, on the other hand, is a set of guiding principles used for decision-making to accomplish a specific goal.

Event planners are called upon to wear many hats – from researching venues and negotiating contracts to building program agendas, coordinating logistics, setting up event tech platforms, and more. These activities, or plans, are essential to keep an event organized, on track, and on budget.

But today, event planners’ roles have been rapidly shifting from organizer to one requiring more strategic analytical thinking, design-know-how, and the ability to communicate the business value of events to senior stakeholders – in other words, an event strategist.

As John Nawn of the Event Strategy Network writes:

“An event strategist is someone whose primary objective is to realize the full business potential of an event.
As such, they focus more on event effectiveness than event efficiency.
An event planner, by contrast, is someone whose primary objective is to successfully execute an event plan.
In that sense, the event planner is primarily concerned with doing things right. The event strategist is primarily concerned with doing the right things.”

Critical Differences Between Event Planning and Event Strategy

  • Event strategy leads to planning, and event planning leads to programs.
  • Planning is future-oriented, whereas strategy is action-oriented.
  • Strategy is part of decision-making, while planning is part of the managerial process.

New Opportunities as Event Strategists

Shifting from a planning to a strategy perspective opens new opportunities for event professionals.

Because event strategists focus on creating long-term strategies, they often work with clients on an ongoing basis rather than just for one-off events, gaining opportunities to build deeper relationships with stakeholders.

Event strategists also tend to have a more significant impact on the events they plan, both in the short and long term. Aside from planning a successful event, the ability to communicate how the event contributes to the organization or clients’ business goals demonstrates their overall value.

For event professionals looking to elevate their careers and become essential in driving overall event strategy, the following is a high-level look at five new skills to focus on.

Establish SMART Goals and Objectives

Creating SMART goals is a critical step in event planning, as it helps ensure your event is successful, measurable, and impactful.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

Event strategists who work closely with internal stakeholders or clients to set SMART goals and objectives create an event that is tailored to their unique needs, resonates with their target audience, and is focused on achieving specific outcomes that ultimately contribute to the organization’s bottom line.

Speak the Language of the C-Suite

While event strategists play a vital role in creating successful and impactful events, they also need to be able to communicate effectively with executives.

Speaking the language of the C-level suite includes:

  • Aligning an event’s goals with the organization’s mission and vision
  • Identifying the “why” behind the strategy
  • Communicating how the plan tactics contribute to the big picture of the business
  • Speaking in financial terms, such as return on investment (ROI), customer acquisition cost (CAC), and customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • Articulating how—and by how much—the event drives growth, efficiency, and loyalty for the business and brand
  • Analyzing metrics and reporting results that reinforce the quantifiable value of the event

Event strategists demonstrate their value and set a strong foundation for making events a vital component by effectively communicating how the event contributes to the organization’s success.

Create Measurements That Matter

With F2F, hybrid, and virtual events, there is an abundance of data for event organizations to consume. The question is: are you focused on measuring what matters?

Many commonly used metrics focus on attendee satisfaction or details surrounding the event, such as the event’s location, food and beverage, or speaker evaluations. While these metrics help understand what can be improved for next time, they don’t provide insights into how the event drives positive fiscal growth.

Event strategists create measurements that matter by tracking, measuring, and proving the impact of events on the bottom line. Beyond event performance statistics, they look at factors such as:

1)      Demand generation

  • Net-new leads generated
  • Demos/meetings held at or after the event
  • New-new qualified leads/MQLs (marketing qualified leads)
  • Target accounts engaged

2)      Funnel influence

  • Net-new sales opportunities generated
  • Pipeline/funnel acceleration/li>
  • Closed sales (as a result of the event)

3)      Customer behavior

  • New leads from existing accounts
  • Expansion opportunities generated
  • Renewal rate improvements

Utilize Event Tech to Create More Value

Most event planners didn’t get into the job because they love event tech. But as events have become more sophisticated and diverse, and with the rise of virtual and hybrid formats, tech is undeniably an essential aspect of events today.

From registration and check-in to attendee logistics and audience engagement, event professionals need to know their way around all the different platforms and tools that are now part of the modern event landscape.

And with a growing call for fluency with data analytics and insights, more event planners are being asked to use those tech tools to evaluate and monitor progress toward business goals.

For example, an event strategist may use metrics to communicate the level of audience engagement or how many appointments were scheduled, showing how the event contributed to or supported business goals.

Dig Deep into Event Data

The rise of virtual events has added new data to the planning mix. Beyond traditional in-person metrics like attendee registration, attendance stats, session sign-ups, and pre- and post-event survey responses, planners now have access to more robust metrics, including clicks, dwell times, engagement rates, chat activity, and more.

There is a tremendous opportunity for event planners to dig deep into the available data to provide insights that help senior stakeholders understand how events impact an organization’s bottom line.  

Understanding data also allows planners to become more thoughtful and deliberate in event design approaches to maximize the event’s impact.

The role of event planners is rapidly changing from event organizer to a position that requires more strategic and analytical thinking and design know-how. Event strategists focus on logistics, organizing great events, and achieving business results.

Learn how Evenium offers the perfect suite of solutions to help you free yourself from logistics to embrace your new strategic role.

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