by Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM | June 01, 2006

There are number of ways to measure the success and effectiveness of events. Following is an update of some of the most popular measurement tools.


Out: It’s old school for organizations to use ROI as the sole measure of profitability, particularly when it’s based on the traditional equation of fiscal year income, divided by common stock and preferred stock equity, plus long-term debt.

In: There is now a need to define ROI for items or actions that do not have assigned monetary value. This is called return on objectives (see the next section). ROI and ROO are yardsticks that work when all stakeholders have agreed upon what will be taken into account and how it will be measured.

Next: Sophisticated new security/identification technology will make ROI measurement more in-depth and accurate, by prequalifying potential customers, reducing erroneous data and redefining quality and quantity.


Out: Traditional ROO methods, based on short-term goals set by top management.

In: Long-term measurement of objectives determined by the marketing department and like areas, including the events department.

Next: Objectives increasingly will become the sole responsibility of the event executor (the planner) and will include both long- and short-term goals.


Out: Broad-sweep competitive intelligence -- market research of competitors’ events -- focused on demographics.

In: Targeted, specific market research.

Next: Research will incorporate new methods of measurements, such as “psychographics” (lifestyle personality typecasting, often used by the auto and fashion industries) and trend projections, to get even more specific results.


Out: Short-term (one week or one month) reports, with a final report generated at the end of the event; reports created on outdated software or custom-built systems.

In: Long-term measurement (minimum one year) reports, done on classic relational databases such as Access and Excel. Why? Quite simply, they work even for small departments within large corporations. They require little in terms of learning-curve costs and are famously compatible with other organizations’ proprietary programs.

Next: A combination of short- and long-term (multi-year) measurements, with reevaluation with respect to ROI on an annual basis.


Out: Quantitative analysis using free online ROI software tools or free online evaluation forms like Zoomerang.

In: Qualitative (minimal, more intensive) data such as highly personal one-on-one interviews, focus groups and long-term follow-up.

Next: Even deeper evaluation of the customer experience and cross-functional evaluation of data. For example, more involvement from sales departments, so the events and marketing departments can leverage sales’ customer relationship data.


Out: Emphasis on the bottom line, with sales shouldering the most responsibility.

In: Marketing, research and development, procurement and other departments sharing in the firm’s fiscal success.

Next: “Shared accountability,” where associate marketers/strategic partners and others outside the organization can be held accountable for the bottom line, too, when results, roles and responsibilities are meticulously defined and agreed upon.