On Being Strategic

We hear a lot these days about strategic meeting management (SMM). I have even read one opinion that said SMM has already become passe. I don't believe it for a second.

What is SMM? Well, I'm sure if you Google it or talk to your colleagues, you will find slightly different definitions. I like to think of strategy in terms of goals, both long- and short-term. In order to reach those goals you have to be able to change, adapt and grow, which is the key to being strategic.

In recent years, as our industry has taken a beating from such things as 9/11, bird flu, swine flu and the economy, those that have had successful meetings during these challenges were most likely employing SMM. It's not crisis management (though that is an element), it's more like creating different scenarios to handle different environments.

To put it another way, SMM is the art of preparing for the same outcome under different circumstances. Let's take conference marketing as an example. The goal of your marketing is to get people signed up for your meeting. So you create a marketing plan that highlights all the great things attendees will experience if they attend and you send out a flyer via email.

What happens if no one or very few sign up? Does your marketing plan take that into consideration? It needs to in order to be strategic. This is not a knee-jerk reaction. It a plan of action.

Being strategic applies to all aspects of meeting management, such as budgeting, contract negotiations, communications, programming and contingency planning. It's a challenge to plan for unknown environments, but with a little institutional history and your experience as a planner, you can put into place something that allows you to act to all kinds of situations, helping you reach your goal under a variety of circumstances.

To learn more about SMM, download Cvent's whitepaper, "Five Myths of Strategic Meetings Management" here.
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