• July 1, 2002

Going to the Show

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When Patrick Deyo took on responsibility for producing an operational infrastructure for Compaq Computer Corp.'s North American enterprise marketing, event-marketing management was a problem. Compaq used at least seven different calendar/planning systems, some based on Microsoft Excel or Access, others using licensed special-purpose software. Sales, management, partners, and internal marketing staff complained they "couldn't figure the systems out, couldn't schedule events, didn't know who to call, and couldn't always find where events were held," Deyo says. It was impossible to analyze event programs across the enterprise. Compaq's situation is surprisingly typical. North American businesses spend more than $60 billion per year on trade shows, user conferences, and other business events. For B-to-B marketers, events are often the number one or number-two marketing expenditure. Compaq spends about 25 percent of its promotional budget on the more-than 1,000 business events it hosts per year in North America. Yet events are typically managed with a mixture of spreadsheets, PC databases, and custom software that does not provide enterprisewide management or integrate with enterprise CRM systems. Under Deyo Compaq brought its event marketing under the control of a larger, integrated marketing resource management (MRM) initiative. Compaq is using Aprimo Marketing, by Aprimo Inc., to support all marketing programs across the enterprise, including events. In the 18 months it has been using Aprimo, software license and maintenance costs have been cut by "hundreds of thousands of dollars," Deyo says. Event plans, objectives, and budgets are captured in what Deyo calls the plan of record, and every project is consistently planned and evaluated. Event plans are now a company resource, ready to be accessed and leveraged by managers in any business unit, instead of being locked up on individual hard drives. Reusing event plans and content saves several days of work and allows Compaq to share best practices across groups. The strategic benefits are also important to Compaq. The company is moving to a closed-loop model to optimize marketing spending and CRM effectiveness. Now Compaq can integrate marketing programs with its SFA systems, evaluate which programs work best for specific customer segments, and optimize accordingly. Customer preferences stored in the SFA system can drive marketing programs; the results of marketing programs, including events, will be fed into the SFA system. By integrating events with Compaq's broader MRM system, "events are connected and have a common look and feel," Deyo says. "They're part of the master plan to drive demand and support the brand." --Dale Weideman
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