Managing all of the activities that make up a successful event-based marketing program can be a nearly impossible challenge, even for experienced Event Program Managers. With all of the people, materials, technology, systems, and reporting required, it can easily devolve into chaos.

Whether you’re using events to market a product or service, a corporate brand or a personal platform, business to consumer or business to business, good event program management requires making sense out of that chaos. And it may not be easy, but it can be much easier when you use the right tool for the job.

The success of your event program depends on your ability to manage three things; people, processes, and performance. Of course, they’re completely interdependent. If your people aren’t where they need to be and doing what they need to do, your process falls apart. And how the event performs for you – that is, how well it meets your marketing objectives – will be determined as much by your people and processes as by whether or not the right audience showed up or how well they responded to your messaging.  

Let’s take a quick look at the critical success factors for each of those areas of event activity.

Built in Best Practices Eliminates the Nightmare of Scheduling, Training, and Managing People

Nothing happens unless people make it happen. Even in the world of optimal automation everything starts and ends with people. In event and experiential marketing you have to schedule people, interact with people, train people, and monitor and support people.

Eliminating potential nightmares requires dependable scheduling and resource management. The okapi Event Program Management tool allows you to not only manage scheduling, but also increases your interaction and accountability with the people who are responsible for representing your brand and collecting your data. We’ve built in best practices for you so you don’t have to accommodate or retrain multiple people’s work styles, methodologies, or ideosynchronies and we’ve given you a dashboard that allows you to manage and monitor activities whether or not you are physically at the event. Even if you’re participating at multiple events on the same day, the okapi dashboard shows all the events happening and who is scheduled for what times and roles.

Eliminating potential nightmares also means streamlining training and accountability checkpoints. The okapi dashboard also allows you to validate that your people are doing their job – providing a system that quickly surfaces issues so that you can correct errors, do additional training, or release people from your process as appropriate.  You can now use data to backup your training programs and performance improvement programs and to make sure you’re making the right decisions with your team.

Built in Workflow Eliminates the Nightmare of Designing, Testing, and Checking Your Processes

Naturally, the more streamlined and standardized your workflow is the more quickly you can train people to follow it. You want your team to be able to log in, work fast, efficiently, and accurately, and get out of the software. You also want to prevent people in the field from having to make decisions on the fly. This will not only decrease your labor costs but also the amount of mistakes that could creep into your data collection activities.

But people are just one part of your process. You also have to manage information.  I already wrote about the ten ways that using a lot of platforms, trying to make them do something they weren’t really designed to do, and get them to work together (which they also aren’t designed to do) costs you money. But it truth, it costs you more than money.  

Not too long ago, I had a prospect that depended on four different pieces of software (some of which contained multiple files and processes) to schedule and collect data for his events. I asked him to track the time he spent on one event using his usual workflow, then had him track the time it took him to perform the same workflow in okapi. It took him 80 percent less time, he ended up with better and more reliable data from consumers and his field team which converts to more accurate reporting and decision making.  Sure, that time savings has a financial component, but he didn’t just save money, he saved himself the stress and headaches of physically looking at four different user interfaces, plus the worry of errors creeping into the data as it was imported or entered from one platform to another.  Basically he eliminated a nightmare that comes up for him every time he has to manage an event.

Quality control can be another event nightmare. We had another client who had their field team attach images of their assembled display as part of their okapi workflow. In checking the images, which were easily available from within okapi’s media manager, they realized in one instance that the the brand name, which was constructed as individual letters, had been placed in reverse order because the brand ambassador was setting it up from their side of the table rather than the customer’s side. From the customer’s perspective it looked great…if you were looking at it in a mirror!

The ability to streamline processes without sacrificing quality is essential to eliminating nightmares. That’s why we’ve designed okapi to eliminate potential variables at the interaction, data collection, and reporting level by allowing program administrators to predefine as much as possible and as consistently as possible using a single process proven by 30+ years of event program management experience.

Built in Collection and Analysis Eliminates the Nightmare of Second Guessing the Data

In the end, event-based marketing is all about performance. And the only real way to measure performance is through the data.  Yet, remote data collection can be such a nightmare that many brands have given up on it completely and just go on the “gut feeling” of their field reps or the impression data they purchase from event organizers.

Even brands that collect data are often foiled in trying to make it meaningful because it isn’t compiled in a format that can be easily manipulated or interpreted. It’s not unusual for a brand to hire a data scientist to analyze the data to determine the type of events and strategies that will perform well for them only to find that their data is so scattershot that analysis is cost-prohibitive or unreliable, or in the worst case, both!

That lack of dependable data and the management hassles of collecting it are two reasons we see brands give up on events that could be very successful for them because they think the event did not yield an ROI. Sometimes the data would have  indicated a clear positive ROI, sometimes it would have shown them how to make better decisions in order to increase their performance, sometimes the reality is that it wasn’t the event or the marketing strategy but the simply people and the process that failed.

okapi is designed with all the functionality you need to collect, manage, and analyze your data yourself or to deliver it to a specialist for a deeper interpretation. (I even show you how we calculate okapi ROI™ on any event in this article.)

Using experiential marketing measurement benchmarks, you should be able to project ROI with a reasonable amount of accuracy. Whatever combination of sampling, demos, presentations, or guerrilla tactics you have planned, we’ve built in the business intelligence you need to make better decisions about how to get the greatest return on event-based marketing.

Whether your marketing program consists of 10 events or hundreds, we believe that managing the people, processes, and performance should be nightmare free. Don’t you?