Executive Buy-In: Getting to a Yes

One of the biggest challenges meeting planners and briefing program coordinators face is the ability to get buy-in from upper management for new digital initiatives. While everyone wants to be digital and innovative, opinions change rapidly when it boils down to investing company money. This leaves meeting and event coordinators with lofty goals they’re expected to meet with small—or nonexistent—budgets.

If you’re struggling to convince senior leadership of the merits of adopting an event or briefing app, we’ve put together some solid strategies and statistics designed to help tilt the scales in your favor. Consider incorporating the following strategies to form a persuasive pitch for a mobile app.

Mobile Is No Longer a Trend

Though it’s hard to imagine life without your smartphone at your side, the technology is still relatively new. Because it’s only been in the last few years that smartphones have become staples of operations and business objectives, many leaders still mistakenly believe that you’ll turn off attendees that don’t own smartphones by offering an event app.

But the reality is that it will be difficult to find someone at an event that doesn’t have a smartphone. In fact, 81% of people who’ve earned a bachelor’s degree or higher own a smartphone.

And it’s not just smartphones that are no longer trends—event apps have surpassed the trend stage as well. In fact, 75% of event producers and meeting planners were using event apps in 2015. Given that nearly two years have passed since that report was produced, it’s likely that the number is nearing 90% now. Events without apps are in the extreme minority, which could be a convincing argument for adopting an app for hesitant senior leaders.

Induce Cost Savings

While the upfront investment for a mobile event app may be off-putting to senior leadership, that number can appear much more reasonable when paired with numbers showing how the app will reduce spending in other areas:

  • Printed Materials: One of the larger expenses for events and briefings without apps is the cost of printing hard copies of materials. Event planners report a savings of up to 84% on printing costs after adopting a mobile app. Calculate the average costs of printing expenses and reduce that amount by 84% to illustrate to leaders how the initial investment can be combatted with cost savings over time.

  • Administrative Costs: When someone has to manually collect emails for attendees, combine those into spreadsheets or distribution lists, and create and send emails for all agenda changes, that time adds up and eats budgets. Calculate the number of hours you or your team spends on tasks the app would perform for you, and multiply it by your standard hourly rates to show how much you’ll have on personnel costs.

As a bonus, eliminating the need to perform administrative tasks enables you to refocus that effort on more impactful and strategic tasks like growing enrollments, recruiting influencers, and negotiating venue and catering rates.

Discover Other Revenues

Event sponsorships play a major role in making events possible, but not all prospective sponsors can afford the cost of getting their brand name on an event marquee. With an event app, you can sell smaller sponsorship packages or add an additional feature for major sponsors: in app content sponsorships and in-app advertising.

Brands commonly spend money on digital advertising through social channels or search engine marketing, and while targeting for these forms of marketing has improved in recent years, you’re still taking a third-party’s word that ads are being served to interested viewers. With events, you can be sure that sponsored content or advertising is targeted to interested viewers because events are industry-specific.

Spend some time calculating how much you could charge for in-app advertising and content sponsorships, and calculate how many packages you believe you could sell. Use that number to illustrate how adoption of a mobile app could increase revenues to soften the upfront costs of app adoption.

Empower Sales Teams

One major benefit of using a mobile app for events and briefings is that apps collect an incredible amount of data on attendee behaviors. If a high-value prospect attends your event or briefing and uses a mobile event app, you can access data on what presentations that prospect attended, what pieces of in-app content she viewed, and how she responded to polls and surveys.

This data can be used by sales teams to determine the prospect’s interests and needs in order to form personalized proposals and offers.

Companies that engage in data-driven personalization see a 15-20% increase in overall ROI. Calculate the potential revenue influx you’ll receive by using mobile app data for personalization. Determine the average amount of sales after events, calculate what a 15-20% increase might look like, and include that number in your request to show how the upfront investment will pay for itself over time.

Getting to Yes

When it comes to securing executive buy-in for major purchases like an event or briefing app, bottom-line impacts tend to be the most powerful. Focus on why you need a mobile app, explaining that mobile-friendliness is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a requirement. Then move into showing how the numbers favor the investment.

Draw examples and conclusions to how the app will pay for itself by increasing sponsorship revenue, decreasing administrative and overhead costs, and increasing sales through personalization.

Then, if you have time and room in your proposal, you can cite some other benefits of mobile apps for events and briefings:

  • Perpetual Engagement Mobile apps extend engagement and encourage loyalty by providing a means of connecting with attendees before, during, and after events.

  • Quality Networking Mobile apps enable networking at events by allowing participants to browse LinkedIn profiles of other attendees.

  • Consistent Communications Mobile apps keep everyone on the same page. Company leaders, event presenters, and attendees can all access up-to-date agendas and event information wherever needed.

But this goes beyond mobile apps. The need and the concept of creating mobile-first touchpoints and digitizing the customer experience so that it works effectively on and off-site is a driving factor behind mobile app adoption. Once you go digital, it becomes easier to iterate and integrate newer technologies and innovative experiences into the overall user journey.

A mobile app is merely the first logical step in towing the digitization line for your customer program and business objectives. In the end, you’ll have created a powerful proposal that convinces company leaders to make an investment that ensures your events aren’t left behind in a mobile-first world.