I cannot tell you how many corporate events I have attended as a guest where the whole thing has ended up as an enormous waste of time and money in spite of some senior execs having a good time and being able to treat their wives to a night out at company expense.
Of all the things that make up marketing, event strategy is the most difficult.
When I was head of strategic planning at BMW South Africa, corporate events fell under me and I was extremely fortunate to have an amazing events team headed by quite a remarkable woman, Pamela Chappell, who certainly knew how to get that last 10 percent absolutely spot on.
Since those days of being so deeply involved in event planning, I have tended to measure every event I attend against what I call my BMW Event Score Sheet.
Not many come anywhere close and yes, perhaps I am biased and perhaps I am far too finicky and obsessed with attention to detail, but those BMW events were all outstanding.
A week ago I attended Starlight Classics at the Vergelegen Wine Estate in the Cape Winelands. The organisers, FNB and RMB, got it right and that final 10 percent was more than covered. It was brilliant and I could not find a single thing to criticise. A rare occurrence.
The thing is, it is not all that difficult to ensure that corporate event management goes from 90 percent to 100 percent.
What I have learned over the years is that the first step is to apply a marketing audit to each and every aspect of an event at the start and as the planning progresses. This is the only way that full attention to detail is achieved. And it is this attention to detail in that final 10 percent of the planning and implementation, that you get the 'wow' factor. It's there where you get the difference between guests simply enjoying an event to it exceeding their expectation. That is really what it is all about. If you cannot exceed the expectation of your guests, you have failed.
On the assumption that branding is the creation of a wonderful warm feeling of loyalty among your customers, then an event is adding nothing to your brand unless it exceeds expectation and is spiced with that elusive wow factor.
Like everything in marketing, event management cannot be left to the unprepared, inexperienced and unskilled. It is not just a question of getting in the caterers, an MC, some dancers and booking a venue. It is a lot, lot more than that.