What companies really want from corporate entertainers
Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on March 24, 2010
A somewhat frustrated colleague recently posed this question to me: “What do companies want? What do companies out there want for their employees and from their providers when it comes to entertainment at meetings and events?”
Even though it may have been asked with an air of exasperation, the truth is that they have hit upon a vital question. The fact is that companies are sensitive not just to their event budgets, but to the perception of how they use their budgets. Even if they have the means to do an over-the-top record-breaking event in their organization, in tough times there can be negative PR associated with that.
Here’s what I think. In good economies or bad, companies want their events to be successful, as measured by effectively achieving their objectives. That’s it. Those objectives may not always be defined well, but the people putting the event together have objectives for the event, and fulfilling them is the goal.
It is not a question of either entertaining customers/prospects OR communicating marketing messages OR inspiring the audience OR boosting employee morale. The target includes all of those things, and it has always been so.
Even in stronger economies, the purpose of having an entertainer or speaker at corporate meetings, or drawing traffic at a trade show booth, or at any conference or other event has always been more than just entertaining. There is a lasting impact that quality entertainment can have on the attendees… they perceive and remember the event more positively and therefore remember the content with a positive perception, too. A quality entertainer is a plus for any event. But you can take it a step further than that.
In addition to basic entertainment, I sometimes integrate one or two of the main takeaway messages of the conference into my performance. Not in a preachy or heavy-handed way, of course… sometimes it’s almost a wink-wink laugh or an inside joke. Maybe it’s just an “offhand” comment or example that somehow confirms or emphasizes something the audience learned at the conference. Whatever the case, it’s not coincidence that it’s in there! It’s a subtle way to direct the attention of the audience back to the important messages and, when skillfully done, it helps to lock those messages into the minds of the attendees. (When working at a trade show, of course, the integration of messaging is not as subtle, but it is equally skillful — the nature of the venue demands more overt marketing messaging.)
I often make at least one pre-event trip to meet with the producers of the event in person to discuss the messaging and how I can make sure my piece of the puzzle will help them to achieve their objectives.
It’s a good question — and worth considering by all meeting planners, conference planners, and other event planners.