As business owners, our inbox is often inundated with invitations to attend conferences and events that promise to educate us and connect us to the right people. We often deal with the deluge of emails by either deleting them all without looking, or by wasting considerable time trying to decide where to spend the money, and if we should register. It can be an expensive gamble. We won’t find out if an event is worth it until the money is spent, and the time invested.
So, how can we make a more qualified decision to register for that conference that will guarantee a return on the investment of our personal time and company money?
Here are 6 strategic planning steps that may help the next time another event notice pops into your inbox.
1. Is the cost in the yearly marketing budget? If you don’t have one, create a budget for educational and marketing activities. It will help prioritize where your money should be spent.
2. What are your company educational goals for the year? Before agreeing to a conference or event, examine your company priorities. Does an employee require advanced training? Do they need to be certified or up-graded in a specialized skill? Will you be needing any CRM, (such as Infusionsoft), or up-grades this year? If so, be sure and budget for these. They can be quite costly but necessary.
3. “If we aren’t there, will our competition be?” Closely examine your marketing plan, looking at both past and planned activities. Do you know where your best customers come from? For example: If your company benefits from attending trade shows, then plan for it. Prioritize important events and add these to the marketing budget.
4. Was there a return on investment at past events? History speaks very loud if you listen. Were there new customers or great leads? Eliminate events that didn’t work. Track the money and the time spent on each activity. Review the results and make decisions based upon them.
5. What interests you about the event? Why do you want to be there? Do you, as the leader, need a new injection of inspiration or motivation? Is it the speaker, the topics or the time with peers? Will your target market be there? If the company can afford it, budget for spontaneous events.
6. Track results. Did you walk away with useful information or education that can be shared with employees? Did you enjoy stimulating conversation with like-minded people? Do you feel happier and more motivated? Do you have solid sales leads? Was the money spent worth it and do you want to put it in the budget for next year? Make note of the results. Next year add it to the marketing plan, (or not), and budget accordingly.