Five Strategies for Event Success

A few months ago I met Kavita Jhunjhunwala and was immediately impressed, as she is such a dynamic and creative professional. Having just relocated to Singapore to give her businesses a more Asia Pacific focus, Kavita is the co-founder of two companies, Pi Social Media which delivers back-end social media solutions; and what we’re going to talk about today, the ClickAsia Summit, which runs events focused on digital media marketing in Asia Pacific. But that’s not all Kavita is involved in. Other projects include Digital Gutterspaceand “Paige from Pi, the Social Media Agony Aunt”– check “her” out on Facebook. I personally don’t know how she does it all.

This year, Mumbai hosted the first ‘ClickAsia Summit 2011’ and it was a resounding success. Held over three days, the event attracted:

  • 30 sponsors
  • 400+ delegates (over capacity)
  • And 55 speakers

This is impressive because the event was “announced” only six months before – so 30 sponsors and 55 speakers is very impressive indeed, as are the delegate numbers. I wanted to understand what she saw as the keys to success.

Knowledge – a deep knowledge of the industry you are targeting the event towards. With many years of relevant professional experience, Kavita knows her industry inside out. As she said: “I got my insight from the inside.” When it came to putting an agenda together, selling the concept to sponsors, attracting delegates and everything else required that makes an event successful, Kavita understood because, above everything else, she knows this industry’s “pain.”

Meet a need – Kavita recognised that no one was successfully doing large format digital media events in India and the market was crying out for it – so she met a high value need – an opportunity for digital marketers to exchange ideas face-to-face, rather than online. Surprisingly for me, Kavita said there are not many MICE events in India, and another early issue raised by the “sceptics” is that they wouldn’t be able to attract delegates within India from outside of Mumbai. Traditionally, Indians do not travel within their own country for events – preferring local or international events. She proved the naysayers wrong as delegates attended from all over the country and internationally.

High quality speakers – the most important aspect for Kavita was high quality speakers from India and around the globe. Having attended many events herself, she knew this was the most important aspect to ensure event success. Kavita wanted everyone to walk away from this event 100 percent satisfied with the quality of information they gained, as well as the value; and the feedback suggests she achieved this.

Sponsors in alignment – sponsorship brings many challenges to an event, one of which is sponsors are frequently not in alignment with your event goals and this can dilute event success. To ensure this didn’t happen, prior to the event, Kavita met with every sponsor face-to-face, discussed her goals for the event and made sure they were in synch and working towards achieving these goals together. 

Communication – and the last, but equally important aspect of event success, is communication. Many events are run by event companies, and as such they do not always understand – in depth – the subject matter. The ClickAsia Summit team did not face this challenge. As far as distribution is concerned, all communication about the event was sent digitally – a first for India. This covered eDM, social media marketing, Web, and all other digital media combinations possible to spread the word. It was all constantly measured, assessed and the marketing campaign was adapted based on trends as the event came closer, and because the content was so good, it went viral. When they promoted the event, they promoted the industry, and as the marketing for ClickAsia Summit 2011 was educational content that gave target audiences a lot of high value information on digital media marketing, it built event interest. “We had knowledge and experience in digital media marketing and we shared it – or as my business partner likes to say, we delivered ‘experiential wisdom transfer.’ We believe that because we shared our deep knowledge on this sector, it made the event attractive.” It obviously worked, because the event was oversubscribed by 25 per cent.

Overall it was an impressive event, which attracted great sponsors, speakers and delegates, featured some great innovation like the “Event2Mobileapp, attracted 180 delegates to its social media boot camp, was all marketed digitally and the feedback was stunning.

When I asked Kavita her final thoughts, she said: “we just wanted to run an event how we would like it run, and didn’t want to make the same mistakes we’ve witnessed many times as participants. As a result, we believe we were transparent, honest and focused on delivering great quality. It wasn’t easy, and there were many challenges along the way. For example, we had seven speakers pull out the day before the event. So we told our delegates which speakers had withdrawn and who would replace them. Some made contact and said they were only coming to hear one of those speakers, and even though we had a no refund policy, we said they could have their money back or transfer their ticket. None accepted our offer and were happy they attended, BUT because we were honest and open, they appreciated it.”

“We will continue to focus on sharing high value content in our event marketing, we believe ClickAsia Summit will continue to offer speakers and brands an excellent opportunity to connect with a very specific target audience, and that our events will continue to thrive on innovation rather than standard event formats,” concluded Kavita.

I just found it refreshing to hear someone speak about events like this, and while much of it is obvious, many miss these important learnings. From my perspective, it is always executing with knowledge, honesty and integrity that really matters, no matter what line of business you are in.

If you’re in Singapore, ClickAsia Summit will be holding its first master class in September and have plans to run multiple social media events in Asia Pacific, including one focused on using social media for events. Check them out.

Andrea Edwards

Managing Director

SAJE

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