Maria Keenan

3 Ways to See the Value of Events Even if They Didn't Help You Sell

Matthieu Gauthier is the Head of Marketing at Mention, a French HQ’d organization that aims to help those in events and beyond to monitor how their brands are perceived online.

In a previous life, he was the Territory Manager for French sales at HubSpot, so he professionally grew up with a deep appreciation of how marketing affects salespeople’s ability to close business.

With that in mind, I wanted to talk to Matthieu (pictured below) to see what the value of events can be, even if almost no one buys something after attending them.

Profile picture - Matthieu.jpgMatthieu Gauthier, Head of Marketing for Mention

Mention is a team of 50 people who look after more than 650,000 customers, so obviously they’ve sold their premise and product at least a few times. But, he opened with a story that surprised me:

“In April we went to a marketing event in Paris, and we got two sales from that.”

Je parle un petit peu français, so I didn’t have any impressions from eavesdropping on his calls when we worked together, but I remember Matthieu being awarded everything from President’s Club to MVP trophies, so I didn’t understand why he was satisfied with that as a result.

“That’s a clear ROI, but on the image – we don’t know if it [the event] will add a good impression of Mention.”

They presumably spent travel fare, time, and money on various other expenses to not know whether they gained anything. It seemed that he’d committed the cardinal sin of marketing; not being able to prove the return on what you’re doing.

Then, he took a step back and explained just how much thought goes into his team’s assessments of value when it comes to events:

1) Look at How Businesses Choose You

“What are people talking about before the event? What is the most interesting thing to them? Is it this speaker or that topic? Are people looking for you in advance? Are they talking about your competitors?”

It seems that their trip wasn't a mislead quest.

The idea behind Mention is pretty useful: a place to monitor all of the times your brand is "mentioned" on the internet.

70% of marketers say that the most common metric to judge event ROI is the amount of media exposure generated.

Therefore, having a good idea of what's being said about an event before it takes place gives marketers a head start on how multiple media are going to reflect their efforts.

This is particularly relevant when businesses are choosing which events to exhibit at, participate in, and spend money at meaning that exposure plays a big part in the profitability and value of the event.

An organizer can therefore reflect on this as a metric for their event's success. When an event has a reputation as a place where businesses and future customers interacted, people and businesses who get wind of that will also want to participate to gain from a similar environment.

2) Look at The Value Speakers Got

“You can look for feedback from your speech. See if it was more positive or negative, if they were more male or female, and where they’re from. That way you can see if you spoke about the right topic for the right audience. If not, you can adapt it for the next event too.”

91% of event professionals said that increasing engagement at their events was an important priority for their organization.

Speakers want to see how they're resonating with their audience. So too do organisers want to see that their speakers will be well-received and give useful information to the people that have bought tickets for their events

Analysing demographics, the amount of buzz and the general positivity of reception can help the organiser tailor their next line-up just as much as it can help their speakers tailor their next speech. So too can analysis about these factors contribute to an organiser's understanding of how useful their event has been for the education of their attendees.

Mention_Android_3@2x.jpgExample of a Mention campaign

3) Monitor Your Event Brand Value

While we were talking about the different ways that people get value from events, I asked Matthieu about the different ways organisers can find in-depth information about what people are saying about their brands.

1) Boolean analysis

“If you just put Apple as a keyword, the fruit is going to be in the result.”

Matthieu recommended Boolean analysis. For those not in the know, Boolean analysis involves telling a search engine or a site search to give you more relevant results.

Unfortunately, it's not a matter of spelling it out by saying "give me exactly the things that people are saying about Apple the brand and not apple the fruit of which Granny Smith is the best variety, please."

If you do this, the search will get muddled and show you things which involve as many of those keywords as possible. It will think that most of the words you used are relevant to what you're looking for, even if you specifically typed "apple the fruit is super duper irrelevant, mate."

Using a specific hashtag for your event on the day is a great way to keep on top of reactions on Twitter and other social networks, but if you want to get more granular at any point before, during or after, here are some useful Boolean shortcuts:

  • Use " " to search for an exact phrase. e.g. "Apple computers"
  • Use .. to search between two numbers. e.g. Apple iPhone 4..X
  • Use site: to search within a given site. e.g. site:apple.com smart watch
  • Use * to leave something out. e.g. apple hires female *
  • Use - to exclude something from results. e.g. apple ear buds -wires

2) Sentiment analysis

“It’s good to be tracking the negative feedback if you want to get back super quickly.”

It might not be the most appealing thing to face up to on the day of an event, but keeping track of complaints about the proceedings before they snowball is recommendable.

Think about it – Toilets? Food? The never-ending conflict of humanity that comes from the thermostat setting in a room? All of these little things come together and shape the overall quality of experience that attendees have at events. 

By nipping one person's less than pleasant time in the bud before people can start replying with similar complaints, an organiser can actively show that they care about the welfare of the participants and solving their problems. This, in turn, can positively influence that person's perception of the values of the brand represented by that individual.

3) Tracking influencers

“Whether you are a company or organizing an event, you want to know the influencers that talked about you because they’re going to provide word-of-mouth. Or, you can find them for your next event.

I think it’s interesting to look at micro-influencers. Not the ones with 2,000,000 followers, but with 40,000 followers. They are going to be really easy to reach out to.”

Again, Matthieu's actions are based on well-researched hypotheses: word-of-mouth generates twice as many sales as paid advertising. So, while it can be difficult to digitally track everything an influencer ever says, involving them in a way that they can see and show value can pay dividends further down the line.

When working with micro-influencers, an organiser can use a variety of different tools to locate and compensate them. The Mention blog provides some good insight into how this works.

Bonus: Recognize That You're Human

“The tool helps you to find what you need to answer, but there’s a human element to it as well.”

At Tito, we like being human and we like humans, which works out quite well for us really.

Personal interactions at events hold value in and of themselves. In fact, only 14% of marketers use events to make and close deals, but 51% of marketers believe that events strengthen customer relationships.

So, while not every conversation will close a deal, the first, second, and even third impressions of a brand that are forged there can contribute to the value of events long after the closing speakers have left the stage. 

For more information about Mention, here's a fancy, free tool they developed called The Brand Grader as well as their blog.

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