Stop Making These 3 Event Mistakes Right Now

Recently, at a local business breakfast, I came across a CEO acquaintance.  After exchanging pleasantries, he wanted to learn more about what an Event Strategist does. So I said:

“In business, we analyze ROI to determine the value of our projects. Events are different, because there isn’t always a quantifiable return on the financial outlay, yet we know we have to do them and very few people have figured out how to determine if they are a success or not. 
I propose that events are moments that we create. By establishing measurable objectives and actionable goals that are derived from event strategy, we design tactics to increase the ROM (Return on the Moment) of these events. Increased ROM = more engaged attendees which, in turn, delivers our desired outcomes.”

Then he asked one of my favorite questions: “What are the biggest mistakes people make in their events?” Here’s what I said:


You are in the financial services business, yet you spend countless hours planning and executing business building, gratitude, educational events, right?  When was the last time you reviewed your event portfolio, really analyzed the WHY of each event, ensuring that each project benefits your business? By understanding the WHY, you are able to be strategic in areas such as target audience, content, communication techniques (like Idea Decanter’s video services), communication messages and desired outcomes.  Working with an event strategist who is also a marketing expert, we can review your event portfolio, evaluating each program’s WHY, and streamline the quantity and quality of your events and really make them a strong marketing tool.



A recent Harvard Business Review survey showed that 52% of their respondents say event marketing drives more business value than other marketing channels. As with other marketing tools, we set goals before we launch them… think ideal direct mail returns, media buy numbers, Google Ad analytics, etc., but when was the last time you set event goals? Not ROI goals, but ROM goals. A few ideas include:


      • Set attendance goals based on desired attendees’ demographics and psychographics

      • Understand the true personality of your event (see this blog for more). If the goal is to educate attendees on a new service, use that goal as a benchmark throughout your event planning process.

      • Set connection goals and desired outcomes.  With connection goals and outcomes you can plan for how your staff will connect with attendees as well as how attendees with connect with each other.

    “Event strategy is like financial planning. You know where you want to end up, but it’s impossible to get there if you don’t have a plan.”


    This is the biggest mistake I see in events. Events don’t end when the tables and chairs are put away! That’s just the beginning. When you are setting goals and creating strategy, don’t forget a post-event re-iterative (also known as follow-up) plan. A solid follow-up plan will require pre-event and in-event communications take-aways to have the most impact, so don’t treat them as a last minute add-on.  A few mistakes I’ve seen recently:


        • How can you send a potential client/ attendee a photo from the event, if you didn’t contract with a photographer to be in attendance? Sure we all have cameras in our pockets, but how many times do you forget to take it out or when you do, the quality isn’t share-worthy?

        • How can you ask each of your team members to connect with their clients within 48 hours of the event, quoting a pertinent piece of advice from the guest speaker, if you haven’t told them ahead of time that is a requirement (not that they wouldn’t be paying attention, but they will pay attention differently if they know the expectations)?

        • How can you expect attendees to share their photos on social media if you don’t provide and continuously share the hashtag? The strength in social media is in the consistency of creating trends.

      Here’s a BONUS #FreshTip – engage the invitees who declined your invitation. After the event, share a few photos, a few memorable quotes and a quick survey to understand why they didn’t attend. They were valuable enough to be invited, so learn from them for next time.

      Do any of these sound familiar? Good news! You aren’t alone. Even better news is that I am here to help. For Idea Decanter clients and friends, I’m offering a free 20 minute call to discuss your events and how together we can ensure that it’s not your events that I’m writing about next time! Click here to set up a time to start toward a fresh perspective on your event strategy.

      Elyse Stoner,
      an award-winning marketing expert, practitioner and author, partners with businesses who want to increase their events’ ROM (Return on the Moment) through strategic planning, marketing and production initiatives. Millions of people have attended educational programs, fundraisers, business conferences, sporting events and concerts that benefitted from her hands-on marketing, event strategy and fan engagement expertise. Follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter and

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