September 13, 2004

I have been struggling lately with trying to find the right balance between how much we invest in “events” for our top-line customers and how much we expect in return. It is amazingly easy to spend 100’s of thousands of dollars to throw an event (if you are not in marketing you probably have no real idea of how costs can add up quickly — trust me, they can!) and once spent we then to have find some way to measure the success of that. If we can say that customer X decided at this event to sign a deal for $Y, then it is pretty easy to justify (especially when $Y is greater than the entire cost of the event for all attendees).

However, sometimes the direct connection between the event and subsequent customer behavior is very far removed. This means that a lot of what we base the success or failure of the event on is how we “feel” when it is all over. Marketing people, at least “old-school” marketing people like me, have a highly developed sense of “feel”. We know when something is going well and when it is not. In fact, I can usually tell in the first 2 hours of almost any event if the event is going to be a success or not.

For many, however, going with feel is not sufficient. “We need numbers!” they cry. That is when it all becomes fuzzy again.

Do we make a big investment and hope for the best? If yes, then we believe in evangelism and marketing as the creation of a connection between company and customer. If no, then we most likely spent a little too much time in the quant lab at B-school and not enough time meeting with customers.

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