Can we all sit under the same umbrella? Why the creative side of the house (Event Designers, Brand Managers and Marketing) should be sitting with other stakeholders on the SMM journey
Every article, consultant or third party event management company will tell you that the success and failure of strategic meetings management (SMM) is pinned on the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement. In an effort to drive engagement and adoption, companies are often provided overly complex process documents and diagrams that map stakeholders as executives, meeting planners, attendees, legal, finance and of course procurement. However, often missing from these lists are the people tied closest to the business objectives of the actual meetings; event designers, brand managers and marketing.
Can and should these stakeholders sit under the same umbrella?
Yes, yes, yes. But, before we get too adamant, let’s review why their absence to date isn’t that surprising. When you consider the fundamental objectives of most SMM programs; reduce operational costs, mitigate risk and increase transparency of meeting spend through centralized sourcing and planning, these are lofty objectives that deliver a high rate of return for an organization. However, they are also largely driven by policy and process and lack the flexibility and approach required by the creative side of the house. The result when you look across a wide variety of SMM programs that are defined by companies or supporting events agencies as successful, is still a shockingly low rate of adoption with the largest and most valuable meetings or events carved out as exceptions.
But, isn’t the purpose of any meeting, (and therefore any program aggregating these meetings) to deliver engaging events that drive business results? Keeping this objective in mind it’s easy to acknowledge that:
- Meetings are an investment in the success of the organization
- Effective meetings require different resources or experience based on the type and complexity of the event
- Optimization of spend allows for more choice
- Tactical, non-value add activities compete with creative activities
- Protecting the company through rigorous contracting is critical
- Meetings drive brand, vision and value
- Events are data-rich and require effective measurement
This evolving focus that includes both the transactional side of events in addition to a consideration for their effectiveness is the required combination of business rigor and creativity. This lens will move organizations and their SMM programs forward delivering the desired adoption, savings, compliance and the much sought after return on event.
Blog author: Beau Ballin, VP, Business Development for North America at CWT Meetings & Events