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Madison ShepherdJul 1, 2024 8:00:00 AM13 min read

Synergy in Event Planning: How to Align Your Team's Goals

This podcast episode featuring Katie Moser of GoGather and Lisa Peterson of Moxified Consulting explores how to create synergy among different departments to ensure successful events that drive business goals.

Katie and Lisa discuss the challenges of coordinating across departments, the importance of early planning, and the roles and responsibilities that need to be clearly defined to avoid confusion and inefficiency. They highlight the significance of starting event planning discussions early, involving the right people, and ensuring executive buy-in and participation.

About the Expert: Lisa Peterson

Lisa Peterson is the Founder of Moxified Consulting, a company that helps executives and companies create an authentic communications strategy that fosters connection and gets business results. Lisa has more than two decades of experience in marketing and communications and has helped companies in life sciences, tech, and healthcare scale, connect and drive business results.


Katie Moser: Yeah, absolutely. I love that point. I mean, it all goes to support your business, and, right? You know, that's at the end of the day. That's what we want to do, is have a successful business, and that means we're all successful, right? Right? 

So take me through your process for helping different departments find synergy, because I know sometimes there are challenges, especially when you know certain departments own certain aspects of you know, a strategy building, or the events or whatever. And you know, as a communications person, you want to be sensitive to those things. You also have a stake in it, right? And you want to have a say in the strategies that are implemented. 

Do you have any recommendations around how you know, communications professionals, marketing professionals, or even anybody in an organization can approach those conversations?

Lisa Peterson: Yeah, it's a really good question, and I think it's interesting, right? Because events are such a massive undertaking, right? And there's so much time and effort that goes into planning these events, it's easy to think, oh, my events team owns this. That's not the case, right? And that's not in any way to diminish the role of an events team, you know, in the planning process. 

But the events team owns planning an event. They own the logistics. They own making sure that you stay on budget, right? But they don't have this strategy for the event. And it probably depends on who owns the strategy of the organization, right? But when you think about an event, and if you start again with the objectives in mind. It's like, who all has to be a part of this discussion and have input to the objectives, right? And to me, you know, that's a business conversation. 

That's not even a marketing team conversation, necessarily. It could be, but I think marketing is a part of that. But I think that's where you have to have the business leaders, whether that's you know, if you're planning for a sales meeting, okay, well, what is the commercial leadership team want to get out of that time, they need to be instrumental in defining the event objectives and contributing to the strategy. But I think too often we leave the strategy to the events team, who are smart, and they probably know the business, but they're not the ones who are responsible for delivering on the business's objectives all year round, right? 

They're playing a role that is supportive of delivering on the business's objectives. So whoever is paying for that event, whoever is going to be on stage at that event, right? You want to make sure they're part of those initial conversations, and it might help to agree upfront around roles and responsibilities, like, if we cannot decide on something, you know, who gets the last say? 

Think about it in broader buckets, like, if it comes to, can we go over budget, who decides if it's okay to go over budget, right? If it comes down to content, and we need to, you know what, we need to cut a whole section because we don't have time, well, who's owning that agenda and the development of content, right? Who gets to decide that that piece is cut right? Or, you know, we're bringing in a motivational speaker who's gonna determine if it's Malcolm Gladwell versus Simon Sinek, who gets to say, right? 

Because so often these things get tough, we try to manage it by committee, and it's a nightmare for everyone. Yeah, right. So, you know, what I've seen, quite frankly, does not work when organizations don't have a clear owner for the event, they haven't identified. You know, who are the executives that are sponsoring this event, and what do we need from them? And then who's the planning team responsible for bringing this event together and executing right? And who's leading that initiative? 

Because the people who are making the event a success when you think about planning logistics and content development, they're not the same people who are making the decisions about what the event is meant to accomplish and how much budget we can align to it, right? So who's gonna, kind of go-between those groups and make sure that everything's translating?

Katie Moser: Yeah, I mean, that's a bridge that's typically missing. And then that person also should be instrumental in making sure that people are keeping on track. That sometimes depends on the company, obviously, but sometimes leadership teams can get very down in the weeds with those tactical decisions, right? And that's not their role, and it's probably not conducive to their time.

Lisa Peterson: Exactly, if you have a senior vice president, you know, weighing in on the cocktail reception, I'm concerned, you know, I'm concerned about what that person thinks their role is, and I'm just concerned about why we haven't empowered the planning team. 

Now, I didn't say events team, right? Planning Team. So again, thinking about how you structure the event strategy also comes down to the people that you involve, right? And there should be people who are part of the business or the customer team, right? That is part of the planning process. You can't just, you know, drop it off at the event person's door and say, I'll see you in February, right?

Katie Moser: Yeah, well, you're setting them up to fail and setting them up for frustration too. 

Lisa Peterson: Totally.

Katie Moser: It needs to be a collaborative process, but one that makes sure everybody is contributing in ways that make sense for who they are in the organization. And yeah, I mean, more often than not, you do see senior level people getting caught up on, where are we having this or those types of things that maybe are not as important for their role, right?

Lisa Peterson: And that's where you can be more transparent at the start, around who's going to get to make decisions and what are those decisions going to be about, right? 

And that's a good opportunity. If you have a senior executive who really cares about, you know, the venue, fine. Then you know, how do we get them involved at an appropriate time to contribute to that decision-making process, right? 

Katie Moser: Absolutely. 

Lisa Peterson: So I think the thing that I often see in organizations that hinders the event, you know, the event planning process is that we just never seem to start early enough.

Katie Moser: Oh yeah, don't get us started on that one. Oh, my goodness.

Lisa Peterson: I don’t know how to fix that piece. But I do think, you know, the sooner that you can start some of those higher-level discussions, right? And think about the strategy of the event, the better off you are. 

And it's probably also just a better experience for everyone working on that event, right? Like, not the experience of the event itself, but, like, you know, how often have you gotten to an event and you're just like, you're already over it, and the thing hasn't even begun, right? 

Because it's been so painful getting, you know, to day one, right? So I think starting earlier can help so that, you know, by the time we actually get to the event, people aren't so burnt out and over it.

Katie Moser: Well, exactly. And I mean, if you have a team that is leading the planning, and then they're also leading on-site, and they're miserable because they've been so stressed, I mean, it's just gonna put a damper on everybody's experience, and then you aren't achieving anything, right? So for everybody listening, please start your planning processes much earlier. We would all appreciate it.

Lisa Peterson: I know, and what's crazy to me is these events, a lot of times. Like, you know you're gonna have them, right? Like, yeah, you know that you're gonna do them generally around the same time every year, you know, I was with an organization that did an annual leadership meeting, and it was always the same time of year, right? And you know when that's going to be so, like, can you back up and start planning that six months earlier, right? 

Katie Moser: Yeah I don't know if we have an answer for that one yet.

Lisa Peterson: I know that might be a totally different episode. 

Katie Moser: We gotta find another hour for us to talk through that. It's like the in-the-trenches kind of conversation of like, what are all the horror stories you've had about planning and working with teams and trying to convince people of things and all of those different pieces. 

Well, we're getting to time here, but I'd love to just wrap this up with some of your recommendations for communications and marketing professionals who are, you know, in organizations where they want to contribute more to the event strategies and business strategies. What kinds of recommendations would you have for those people? 

Lisa Peterson: Ask questions. There's organizations that you know have a calendar of events, right? And you do them every year. So let's ask, let's make sure we're asking questions up front, early around, why are we doing this? You know, how did last year go? And did it accomplish our objectives?

So, you know, events are one of those things that I feel like we put on repeat, and we don't often step back and say, Why are we still doing this? And I think COVID, you know, gave people a break to bring it back to the top of our discussion rate. And, you know, everyone stopped gathering in person, but now people are starting to get back to it. So it's, you know, I think it's incumbent upon your marketing team, particularly when you're thinking about the broader plan for the year, you know, looking at your event strategy and making sure, first and foremost, hey, we're going to do these five events because we know that these are the events that really were effective in helping us accomplish our goals. 

And if you know, if they weren't effective, well, then either, what do you need to do to make them effective? Or maybe you just need to consider changing the strategy altogether. And it's not five events, it's two signature events, maybe. So you know, don't be afraid to just ask the question like, why are we doing this? And then from there, I think, it starts with, who do we want at this event? What do we want them to walk away with, believing, doing, sharing, etc, right? 

And really start with that attendee, and audience in mind as you're building out your objectives. And I think that's true whether you're in marketing or communications. I think that's where, particularly on the communication side, I've seen communications professionals come in early and help facilitate some of the discussions that need to be had across teams and at different levels, right? And so I would say, you know, once you've agreed, yep, we're going to do these events, and this is what we think they're going to accomplish. And you know, this is who we wanted them, you gotta go and get buy-in, right? 

You've gotta go and make sure that this still fits in the overall plan for the business, that you've got a budget, that you've got leadership commitment. This is a pet peeve, but I just really think it stands out when you have events that lack leadership participation. Why are you even doing them right if leaders aren't going to make the time to travel and be accessible and participate in events like a sales meeting or an incentive trip? Or, you know, obviously, like a leadership meeting, or that's just a nonstarter to me. 

Katie Moser: Well they set the tone right? 

Lisa Peterson: 100% 

Katie Moser: You know, and if they're not participating, then your attendees aren't going to care.

Lisa Peterson: Yeah. What's in it for them? Exposure to leadership is something that many colleagues value, and they want to hear from the leaders to be able to interact with them face-to-face.

So I think that once you've got your high-level strategy for your event, make sure that you've got the right buy-in at an executive level, not just for the funds, although that's important, yeah, because then the funds also dictate the venue and a lot of the other planning, you know criteria too, but make sure you've got executive buy-in and commitment on the calendar, time is blocked off, and these people will be there and be a part of things. 

And then I think you can turn it over to a very capable GoGather events team to do what they do best, which is taking that strategy and then turning it into the flawless execution of your event.

Katie Moser: Yeah, absolutely. I love it. 

Thank you so much, Lisa, for all of your amazing insight. I love this conversation. It's fun to have a little bit of a mind meld with marketing and your background. I definitely will continue picking your brain after this meeting, but thank you all so much for tuning in, and for listening to all of the insights that Lisa has for us. 

Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about anything we talked about today. I'm sure Lisa would love to have one-on-one conversations. I would love to have one-on-one conversations and continue elevating events, right, making them more strategic, and making them make sense for your business. I mean that at the end of the day, that's why we host events for our businesses, is to make them push goals forward. And you know, just bring people together.

Lisa Peterson: Thank you so much, Katie for having me. 


Madison Shepherd

Madison Shepherd is a Marketing Specialist at GoGather. When she's not writing blogs or sending out social media posts, she enjoys hiking, traveling, or reading at one of the many beautiful beaches in San Diego.