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Best Bang for Your Event Strategy Buck

By Mike Antonczyk and Matt Hirschland Ph.D., H2A Partners

The last 6-12 months have been full of indicators of a slowdown and large-scale change across the consulting and professional services landscape. Among these are Deloitte launching its “biggest reorganization in a decade”, PwC naming its new US Senior Partner and increased attention on the ‘up or out’ model as a means to manage headcount. As a result, we’ve seen the desire to find new work among all firms higher than ever.

In H2A’s day-to-day work with firms across the globe, we see marketing budgets under serious scrutiny. And it seems that there are fewer client opportunities to go around for the large firms which makes trusted client relationships more important than ever. Given all this, many of our clients asking, “where do I place precious resources now?”

In 2024, our guidance to leaders of professional service firms is to be bold and own the spaces you want to serve. This means investing in areas important to your firm, as many competitors are pulling back. We are in a unique white-space moment to double-down on those you wish to serve and do so at a time where client executives need more assistance and advice than ever.

Below, are a handful of findings and results from a recent impact metrics study detailing the dividends paid from executive community building and also hints at broader, post-pandemic best-practices for capturing the imagination of new and existing clients. As is often the case, the numbers don’t lie.

H2A Partners Client Community Building ROI – Impact Metrics & Findings (2023-2024)

Executive community building (hosted, recurring meetings with a functional group of executives) continues to have an outsized impact over other professional service sales event and marketing investments. Below is ROI analysis from one, 300-member c-suite community that we curate.

Client Acquisition Impact

  • 6x the rate of new client discussions with community members vs. non-members
  • The average proposal size for targets engaged in the community was 52% higher than with non-participants

Capturing Buyer Mindshare

  • 40% open rates with community members (versus industry average: 20%)
  • 9% click though rate with community members (versus industry average 3%)

More Lucrative, Longer Engagements

  • 20% longer engagements
  • Deal potential on program spend: 250x
  • Deals closed to spend ratio: 30x

Post-pandemic Event Best-Practices (Jan 2022 – present)

Over this same period, we analyzed all events we’ve conducted – more than 200 – to get a sense of key trends and must-dos today. Here are a few of the highlights

Virtual vs. In-person – While some C-suite executives tell us they are tired of virtual events, their behavior would indicate otherwise. Well past the pandemic, both registration and attendance rates are higher for virtual events than in-person (50% higher registration for virtual over in-person AND 10% higher attendance rates).

Regional Differences – Wednesday proves to be the best day for virtual and in-person events in North America and APAC; Thursday shines in EMEA.

Your Subject Matter Experts Are a Double Edged Sword – Under the label of “organizer beware,” events featuring your subject matter experts (SMEs) garner lower registration rates (10-15% less) than those events featuring executive peer speakers or luminaries. However, those that do sign up for SME speakers are more likely to attend (20% more likely).

Client Peer Speakers – A featured peer speaker (i.e. a CFO for a CFO event) is the best formula for highest registration (10-15% better) AND better for attendance (20-25% higher).

How do your numbers and experiences stack up? Please share as we’d love to hear.