Managing Up: How to Make Execs Understand Event ROI

When it comes to proving the success of your event, sometimes you have to learn how to speak a different language. Turns out, your boss, company executives, or the board of directors may not define success in the same way that you do. What do you do when you have to prove your worth, but you and your manager are on different wavelengths?

You have to learn to speak their language. They’re the ones that handle the big picture numbers and if they don’t understand the ROI of the event you just held, it may not happen again.

Your Goal

Prove the value of your events. Not just to you, but to your managers, to the executives of the company, and more.

How To Do It

Understand what’s important to your executives. You have to learn to talk to them in a language they understand. They aren’t going to learn how to translate what you’re saying, so figure out what they need to know.

The Language You Speak: Planner-ese

Your event triumphs may be that you had no lines, a flawless program, the perfect amount of catering ordered, and all of your volunteers showed up. However, that doesn’t mean much to your executives. You’re in the trenches day after day pulling events together so your victories may seem big to you – but in the grand scheme of the entire organization, they can be considered “small.” Planners often get stuck talking in terms of little parts of the event when executives only care about the big picture.

The Language They Speak: Exec-ish

Executives have one role – to make sure the organization is doing as well as it can and is making money. They are thinking about big changes that will move the needle. They think in terms of ROI, profit, company impact, and brand. But don’t limit yourself when thinking about ROI. It’s not all about dollars and cents. ROI can be broken down into brand, attendee engagement, retention, and leads.

How to Speak the Same Language

Start at the beginning. Don’t wait until after the event to deliver results, without first setting clear goals that appeal to your executives. If you create goals that define ROI in terms of brand, attendee engagement, retention, and sales pipeline, your manager will understand when success is achieved. You can’t work from nothing. Implementing and working from goals is about having a solid baseline. If you haven’t been tracking your net promoter score throughout the years, then the goal for this year will be to create a data point. Once you know where you stand, you can begin to create more aggressive goals that executives will respond to.

Visuals and Numbers are Your Friends

Most likely, you have very little time to review results with your managers and executives. You need to have clear numbers, as they relate to your goals, and, if you have time, visuals. It can be hard to explain success, but when all of your goals are framed in definable metrics, you can easily prove your success.

Conclusion

Recognizing that you think in different terms than your managers and executives is the first step. By creating timebound, definable goals that are in quantitative terms relative to what your organization deems important, you’ll have greater success when proving the ROI of your event.

Need to prove event ROI to your CMO? Read Steps to Prove Event ROI for CMOs


Madison Layman

Written by Madison Layman

A graduate of the College of William and Mary, my passion for writing began before I could read, with a nightly verbal diary dictation transcribed by my obliging parents. Since then, my word count has hit the millions and won't stop growing anytime soon. When I'm not writing or reading, you can find me binge-watching tv shows, baking elaborate desserts, and memorizing pop culture facts.