When the story first broke about the IRS spending lavishly on a conference in Las Vegas, my first reaction was anger over the foolish squandering of taxpayer funds.

My next reaction was more reflective. None of the articles I have since read about this debacle mentioned the purposes of the event. So now I’m seeing the story as a learning opportunity. The story offers event management lessons for all types of organizations—even in the corporate world.

If your company relies on events to generate revenue from customers and prospects, it cannot afford to repeat the IRS’s blunders. Here are four Lessons Learned that apply to marketing events:

  1.  Never hold a meeting just because “We’ve always done it.” You’ve heard what happens when you try to navigate without a rudder.  Every marketing event needs specific, achievable goals.
  2. The softer the reasons for a requested meeting (“customer goodwill” comes to mind), the easier it should be to say “No.” If a product manager wants to exhibit at a tradeshow, rigorous justification criteria should be met.
  3. “We have money in the budget” is not a justification.  “We can make money—and here’s how” is what the C-suite wants to hear!
  4. There WILL be a day of reckoning!  Nowadays, data is expected.  Make sure you’re measuring what management wants to see. You don’t want scrutiny on extravagant costs, like $64,000 in trinkets for IRS employees and $44,500 on two keynote speakers.  Rather, you want data relevant to event goals—such as qualified prospects, revenue potential from attendees, and ultimately, ROI on each and every event.

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