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Brand Purpose Creative Works #Events

How to measure the sustainability of your marketing events

By Beki Winchel, Spiro



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June 12, 2024 | 8 min read

Consumers expect their brands to be sustainable – and that includes their marketing events too. Measure the eco-credentials of your events, says Beki Winchel at Spiro – and then shout them from the rooftops.

The backs of green empty rows of chairs at a stadium

Event planners, possibly more than anyone else in marketing, can ensure sustainablity credentials are met / Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Your consumers want sustainable action. They expect your brand to do more of it. And – the good news is – they’re willing to spend more in return. In recent McKinsey and NielsenIQ studies, brands making sustainability-related claims averaged 28% cumulative growth over the past five years vs 20% growth for products that didn’t use eco messaging.

Yet, effectively approaching sustainability remains a challenge to many marketers, especially with skeptical consumers: Edelman’s Trust Barometer found that only 49% of consumers trust businesses to do the right thing when it comes to climate change.

In “The Eco Imperative,” our agency outlined how you can increase your impact and avoid green-washing by approaching sustainability clearly and transparently. But most importantly, your approach must be measured to show impact – the focus for our “Eco Readiness” road map.

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Sustainability in event planning

Your brand’s experiential marketing strategy – no matter your industry or whether B2B or B2C – can give you a powerful way to establish a measurement and action framework that demonstrates your eco-conscious impact.

As an event marketer, you have direct control over your brand’s footprint like no other aspect of marketing. From the selection of the venue to how a space is built out and with what materials; how attendees move around; the attendee interaction design; energy sourcing; to even the provenance of the food on offer. There are few decisions in a live experience that cannot be scored through the lens of sustainability.

Salesforce’s Dreamforce demonstrates its sustainability impact by avoiding higher-carbon-footprint foods like pork and beef. It also offsets attendees’ carbon footprints through its partnership with nonprofit Cool Effect. Heineken’s Greener Bar demonstrates responsible festival activations with a smart power plan to reduce fuel emissions, zero-waste uniforms, and a circular design and construction approach.

What’s more, experiences lend themselves to measurement, adjustment, and iteration: Every activation is already held accountable to business and brand outcomes. Lessons learned from one experience feed into the next.

As marketing budgets face ever-tighter scrutiny, setting and holding your event accountable to business-critical KPIs will help you establish your event portfolio as a smart investment that brings results. Show results with top-of-funnel customer capture, customer loyalty, and emerging sustainability markers, and you can argue for more investment to continue the demonstrated success.

Make sure to measure

Whether you’re just getting started on your eco-friendly journey or well on your path, a measurement framework is crucial – and doable!

Your organization’s sustainability strategy and declarations are your guiding star. If your organization doesn’t have an explicit strategy, it’s likely hidden in plain sight: Look to the directives your board of directors or leadership have made regarding sustainability, ESG, DE&I, reputation protection, and corporate crisis management. Linking your framework to your organization’s highest overall priorities should make your experiential outcomes a critical source of progress and proof.

Use your framework to cement your events’ place in your organization’s sustainability journey. KPIs are critical to planning, designing, measuring, and reporting for impact. We help event marketers connect customer drivers, business performance measures, and brand objectives to experience imperatives with our G.R.A.V.I.T.Y. Index. Whatever your framework, use it to align your leadership, organization, and partners around attainable goals and KPIs necessary to demonstrate your progress.

Once you have your framework and KPIs, brief for – and expect – results from your agency partners. Progress against sustainability goals should become embedded within every brief. Seek out an agency that shares your sustainability ambitions, is not daunted by blazing a new path forward, and is ready to be held accountable for the outcomes you expect.

Use this framework to test, measure, learn, and improve. Don’t keep your results quiet! Leverage the production and operational expertise of your agency partners to evaluate, refine, and codify practices that streamline sustainable event design. As you iterate, you’ll see tangible progress against your framework – which will help you determine how your organization can best craft more sustainable experiences and events. Don’t forget to close the loop with your brand’s senior leaders, demonstrating bottom-line impact and using your results to help drive your overall roadmap.

Growing consumer demand and our current market landscape are pushing us to act now on sustainability. There’s no better time to build your measurement framework—using the momentum of your experiential efforts to power your journey. Don’t worry if it’s rough and ready: Sustainability is about progress, not perfection. The steps you take today can create an actionable plan with built-in impact reporting that leads to lasting change – for your brand, your customers, and the world we all share.

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Brand Purpose Creative Works #Events

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