I’ve just had the opportunity to present in a couple of sessions at the National Sports Convention, sharing my beliefs on the critical role events play in allowing our organisations to achieve our goals. I supported this argument with some research we have amassed, and a case study providing evidence of the positive influence events may have on your organisation, and, your audiences. So I thought I should share it with you!
The opportunity missed
A key point I wanted to make was that many of us are missing (or struggling to maximise) the opportunity events offer (sport, corporate, cause related or otherwise).
Given events provide the physical interaction and online content to interact with your audiences, they are the ‘shop window’ of many organisations. And that in fact your work is essentially the sum of a series of events, with the measures of your success ultimately determined by the quality of the events your organisation puts out into the world.
It may be said that your work is a series of events.
The missing layer
So given the importance of events, we should be aware that there is often a missing layer in an organisations plans, between the overarching organisation wide ‘Strategic Plans’, and our very specific ‘Event Plan’, and that to be successful your events should now be looked at more strategically.
The many levels
I also conveyed that as you and I know, events are essentially a group of likeminded people coming together to share an interest, and ideally a shared passion. And that the more an organiser can connect to the interests and passion of their audience, the stronger the impact will be. In Lean Start Up world it’s called ‘Product/Market Fit’, and likewise in our world of events, we need to connect our organisations with our audiences tightly, and at many levels.
The relationship between an organiser and audience within an event can often be one sided. Either we focus on us too much, or not enough. Anyone can throw a party, but the host needs to get something out of it, and so do the guests!
As a Vision for our companies, an Aspiration for our customers, a Strategic and Operational level for our organisations, and at an Emotional and Functional level for our audiences, the tighter the connections, at these various levels, the more influential, and successful an event will be – for all involved!
The Influence of Events
The example I focused on in my keynote was on the influence events may have on our nations physical activity. Why is this important? Well as many of you will know we are living in an increasingly inactive world. With 56% of us are not as active as we need to be, this is causing great issues on many levels. Our personal health is at stake, and the stats tell a sad story at all levels.
A World Health Organisation report recently reported inactivity costs us $805 million each year, and more importantly takes 14,000 lives each year, being 1 of the 10 leading factors contributing to deaths in our community.
“Exercise is the best medicine”
So, what role do events play in creating a more active world?
In the case of participation sports events, we have seen the growth in popularity to the point where walk, run, ride, obstacle, and themed events are now one of the highest profile, most accessible and relevant platforms to consume our physical activity. However, as our industry does not have a lot of evidence or shared knowledge on the positive influence these events have, we shared the case study of our work exploring this opportunity.
The Mother’s Day Classic is an iconic nationwide event, attracting up to 100,000 participants each May, with an accumulated 1.27 million participants, and over $35million of funds raised for Breast Cancer research across 20+ years, and now hosts over 80 events annually. This provides tremendous reach and connection across Australia, in a targeted audience.
This event provides a great case study of how an organisation, Women in Super, can connect with its audience, at many levels. At the level of an organisations vision and a communities aspirations, at a strategic and social layer, and certainly at an emotional and purposeful level.
And what our research is showing is that not only do these events play an influential role in participants lives leading into an event, but the opportunity to impact lifestyles after the event.
There are many stories of individuals whose behaviour has been motivated by the catalyst effect of an event (and also to motivate those around them, in what a very public promotions of a desired behaviour). And we are also building more quantitative evidence of the effect these events are having after the event day, influencing lifestyles as an ongoing pathway.
Our studies have shown a significant increase in physical activity, especially in those who were previously less active.
Why does this matter?
Aside from the valuable outcomes on individual lifestyles, it also demonstrate the positive impact these events can have for organisations. Being able to tell evidence based ‘good news stories’, provides great value at a strategic, commercial and other levels. Enhancing the relationships not just with your customers, but also with partners, funders and key stakeholders is something which has become essential in today’s competitive world.
Why does this matter to you?
I believe case studies such as this demonstrate what can be achieved for any organisation that produces events. If a more strategic approach is taken, events can (and should) be used for greater influence and outcomes, no matter what the context is. Whether to participant or attend sport more, to raise funds or awareness for a cause, for a community or commercial interest. In fact, there are many missed opportunities no matter the type of events you are producing, or the desired behaviours and outcomes your organisation is seeking.
What should you do?
It all starts with the question of what influence are you seeking to have? And in who? And then by taking a strategic, evidence-based approach, you will reveal the many ‘good news stories’ you are sitting on. And if you can take this approach, you will have a greater influence, both for your audience, and you.