Acronyms are abound in this digital age–from BRB to SMH to LOL (which my dad uses from his generation for “little old lady”)–we are constantly thrown terms we may or may not know. Myself? I often turn to Urban Dictionary (a website where you proceed at your own risk) to keep up with the hip kids. (I just made myself sound 80 years old–I promise I’m only 31!)
This also happens in the world of marketing. Terms fly in the meeting rooms–from BEO to ASP to ROI. It’s enough to make your head spin, especially if you’re new to the profession. From a field marketing perspective, some of these terms can get you into trouble if you don’t know what they mean. And, unfortunately or fortunately, these definitions may not be up on Urban Dictionary, but don’t worry–I’m here to help!
As a field marketer, it’s important to understand all the terminology that is used in running an event from end-to-end–from planning and execution to reporting on your results. I’ll define some of these important field marketing terms below–complete with insider tips and personal stories:
Executing Your Field Event
1. BEO: Banquet Event Order
This is one of the most important documents for your event. A banquet event order (BEO) should be provided by your venue and includes all of the nitty-gritty details, such as times, equipment, room set-up, and more. But what does each detail mean and how does it impact your event?
- Start/end times: This is the time that your event is scheduled to start and end. While that may be a little obvious, it’s a good idea to check with your event contact about when your team and speakers can arrive and set up. This reveals how much time you have to get everything ready, which is important when you consider that some venues book events right after each other.
- Menu selections: If you’re serving food at your event, make sure you select options that are suitable for all sorts of dietary preferences. You can ask about your attendees’ diet restrictions directly on the event registration form or choose for them, but either way, you’ll want to select a vegetarian option just in case.
- Audio-visual (AV) equipment: Understand your AV needs before the event. Does the venue have an in-house AV department or a recommended AV company you can use? Do you need to bring your own?
- Audio equipment: Microphones (lavalier, handheld, podium, wired–so many options!) and speakers
- Visual equipment: screens, TVs, projectors, and slide advancers
- Room set-up details:
- Capacity of the room: How many people can you fit in your venue? This will vary based on table arrangements: 75 in classroom might be 60 in full rounds, which would be 30 in half-rounds–explore your options!
- Floor plan: Get a visual of what your room will look like when it’s completely set up to evaluate capacity and the best design for attendee experience. Is there a table too close to the bathroom? Do all the tables have a good view of the presentation?
- Event contact information:
- Vendor contacts: With so many moving pieces, you need to have all of your vendor’s contact information on hand in case you run into an issue or they don’t show up.
- Employee contacts: This information can usually be found in your company directory, but this can be hard to do when you’re on-site. Make sure you collect the contact information for everyone who’s scheduled to work or speak at the event.
- Estimated cost: This is pretty self-explanatory, but don’t forget about the service charge–it will typically be added to your bill at the end of an event (usually 18-22%), so account for this in your budget. Many of us have learned this the hard way: budgeting $50 per person for an event, forgetting to account for the service charge and additional tax, then going back to adjust purchase order approvals–and that’s always a mess. So do yourself a favor and remember these formulas:
- Meal cost x # of people = SUBTOTAL 1
- SUBTOTAL 1 x service charge (22% = 0.22) = SUBTOTAL 2
- SUBTOTAL 2 x tax rate (8% = 0.8) = FINAL TOTAL
TIP: Make sure you review your BEO with plenty of time to make changes. I’ve had the unfortunate circumstance of not receiving one until I was on-site, and then was so thankful I showed up early because there were so many things I needed to change. This one document is extremely helpful to keep you and your vendor(s) all on the same page.
2. AR: Attrition Rate
How many people will NOT show up at your event? This is your attrition rate. From my experience, a typical free field event will see about a 50% drop-off in attendance. This means that your attrition rate would be 50%. In larger cities, it might be even higher–you might have 30% of registrants attend, which means you would have a 70% attrition rate.
TIP: Create a spreadsheet that tracks your attrition rates in different cities and for different event types. This will help you make more accurate estimates for your guarantee (see below) in the future.
Your venue will likely require a “guarantee” guest count from you, usually 48-72 hours before your event date. This is where your attrition rate comes in handy! Multiply your attrition rate by your number of registrants, and then add in your staff = guarantee. This is the minimum number of people you will be charged for–and then your venue will likely be ready to serve 5% more than this guaranteed guest count. Even if less people than your guarantee attend, you will still pay for the guaranteed guest count. So, if you guarantee for 20 people, and only 15 attend, you would still pay for 20 people.
TIP: Be smart! Don’t forget to include your staff members in your guarantee. You KNOW these people are going to be there, so you need to make sure you have space for them. Your sales team will be disappointed if they can’t connect with their customers at the event–so keep them happy!
4. ROI: Return on Investment
Your event likely cost a good sum of money to produce, so how will you know if you succeeded? That’s what ROI is–calculating the return on investment of your event. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 5-10X in pipeline from your event cost. So, if your luncheon costed $5000, then you want to see $25,000-50,000 in pipeline in the next few months following your event.
TIP: Decide on which success metrics mean the most to your team’s goals. Evaluate on a consistent basis (e.g. monthly) to make decisions for your future programs. Always refer back to your data and ROI measurements in order to make educated decisions for future programs. For example, why would you want to schedule another breakfast if your last one had low attendance that resulted in only 1x pipeline?
5. First-Touch Pipeline
If you are looking to drive new business pipeline, this is an important metric for you. You want to see how much pipeline your event has created based on the number of new names in the database this event generated. First-touch attribution means that the program was the first time that this person engaged with your company and entered your database by registering—and the lead is tied to an opportunity. This is big if you’re well partnered with your sales team and they’ve been making cold calls to drive registrations. You always want to get new qualified people in your marketable database!
TIP: Work on training your sales team on prospecting strategies to help increase your first-touch pipeline. Arm them with contact discovery tools to find new names and bring them into your marketable database.
6. Multi-Touch Pipeline
Many field events will be more about multi-touch pipeline since you’re marketing to leads who already in your database. Multi-touch attribution occurs when a lead reaches a “success” (aka takes a desired action like attending a field event, not just registering for it) and is associated to an opportunity. This helps you track attribution along all of the engagements along the way to a closed/won deal: downloading a whitepaper, registering for a webinar, and then finally attending your event. In this case, all programs will receive credit for the pipeline and revenue won as all are important steps along the customer journey.
TIP: See what results in the most ROI and replicate it. Take that program across geographies to get the most bang for your efforts. The more you can create a plan, execute, evaluate, and repeat–the more efficient you will be! We do that often here at Marketo with luncheon series, roadshows, webinar series, and more.
7. CMP: Certified Meeting Planner
You might want to consider getting a certification for a CMP, created by the Convention Industry Council (CIC) and supported by multiple meetings associations. You could also consider the CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional) if that’s more your style–provided by the International Live Events Association (ILEA). I served on the Northern California Chapter board for a few years–and really loved my participation in a local association. (Hot tip for those of you still in college as well!)
There are probably a lot more that I haven’t included–and this doesn’t even begin to cover the other terms associated with field marketing outside of events–but I wanted to give you a headstart! Are you a fellow field marketer? Share some of your must-know event terms below!