In 2011, insurance and financial industry companies planned an average of 95 events ranging from major conferences to strategic events and training programs, according to a 2012 Economic Impact Study by Financial and Insurance Conference Planners (FICP).  Budget projections for the industry this year are trending up, with moderate growth in meeting spending expected. 

That’s a lot of meetings. With increased regulation, uncertainty over our government’s handling of key issues like the national debt, and the impact from implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), you can be sure life and health insurance advisors will have plenty to meet about in 2013.

Fortunately, getting the most from your meetings and delivering real value can easily be accomplished with the right strategic planning framework and the tools to evaluate success.  The following four steps will help you establish the key processes and evaluation techniques to gauge effectiveness and ensure you are achieving your meeting’s return-on-objective (ROO):

  • Develop clearly defined goals and measurable objectives. The emergence of strategic meetings management has moved companies beyond a bottom-line focus, although demonstrating meeting value, cost savings and risk reduction are still important. Other meaningful measures include metrics that evaluate meeting engagement, stakeholder retention, productivity and the quality of the overall meeting experience.  Be sure to consider how the meeting will drive your organization’s performance. Then, define stakeholder expectations and desirable outcomes for the meeting. Working within this strategic planning framework will help strengthen your meeting design and program to ensure you’re helping achieve key business goals.

  • Outline an effective measurement strategy. Tools for evaluating your meeting vary in complexity, but typically include both quantitative and qualitative measures. Often both internal and external resources are used, such as sales reports or employee satisfaction surveys for the former and customer relationship management (CRM) software for the latter. Quantitative measures can include satisfaction and priority scales, for example, and test scores.  Examples of qualitative measures include feedback through comments and discussions. Key to any measurement strategy is conducting both pre- and post-meeting assessments so that benchmarks can be established against the desired outcomes. The growth in mobile and social technologies provides many ways for securing audience responses and input and promoting two-way conversations, so be sure to maximize these applications and social connections. For example, the website Storify.com captures tweets with your assigned hash tag and provides a summary of comments in conjunction with your event along with images.

  • Analyze the data and report key findings. In a 2011 research study conducted by Meeting Planners International (MPI), organizations that successfully measure the business value of their meetings report they focus on only a few key elements versus exhaustive studies. Best practices among meeting professionals depend most often upon internal data sources, as they tend to be reliable and don’t require added work to implement. Data analysis typically includes subjective and statistical analysis, MPI reports, with a visual presentation of key information using charts and graphs.  Subjective analysis looks at “cause” and “effect” relationships based upon the data, while statistical analysis uses mathematical models and formulas.  Whatever data is utilized, it’s important to leverage the input to generate actionable reports based on the findings.

  • Use the results and key findings to improve your next meeting’s performance. Measurement without the benefit of a follow-up action plan that leverages your key insights is like navigating without a map. The view might be nice, but how will you know where you’re going and if you’ve arrived once you get there? Take key lessons to heart and identify the most important steps to undertake to improve the key psychological and motivational factors impacting your meeting’s outcome.  

According to a recent study by The ACTIVE Network, Inc., focusing on meeting planning patterns and trends in five major metropolitan cities, meetings are back with requests for proposals exceeding pre-recession levels. However, companies are focusing on smaller events, keeping their meetings shorter and planning on the fly as budget approvals are delayed.

Meeting planners for life and health insurance advisors can capitalize on these trends by choosing closer-to-home meeting venues that offer meeting facilities and guest accommodations enhancing the overall meeting experience.  Finding a meeting partner that also understands the importance of measurement and delivering on your meeting’s ROO will also ensure your next meeting or conference delivers beyond expectations.