Never before has the measurement of meetings and events been more important, and never before have there been such precise and sophisticated tools for analyzing them.

“Customers have specific needs. They want to answer specific questions about their sponsorships, or their events,” says Fay Beauchine, president, engagement and events, for Carlson Marketing Group in Minneapolis. “We like to sit down with them at the beginning to see what their needs are, rather than offer a canned solution.”

And therefore one of Carlson’s measurement “solutions” (as Beauchine refers to them)—the sponsorship measurement model—was born. Carlson created it for a financial client who wanted to measure the results of its sponsorship of a major women’s conference, but it is a model that can be applied across many industries and brands.

“This bank was looking to know if three things happened as a result of their sponsorship,” explains Beauchine. “First, would the attendees now do their personal banking with them? Next, would they now do their business banking with them? And third, would they now recommend them to others?”

To learn if the sponsor had achieved any or all of these outcomes, Carlson designed specific questions for attendees that measured each element of the conference, from the Internet café to the breakouts to the keynote speakers. The questions were not about whether or not attendees liked the events or whether they were well planned, but about whether attendees trusted the brand, aligned themselves with it, and/or felt committed to it as a result of that element of the meeting. From that, Carlson came up with numerical scores that enabled the client to draw certain conclusions (for example, one of the keynote speakers had a high correlation with these three outcomes).

“They were able to take these scores back to their CFO and say, ‘We now know conclusively that 58 percent of the people who attended this conference had such a favorable experience that they said this brand would now be their first choice [up from 40 percent before the event].” That’s pretty powerful ammunition to justify future events.

According to Beauchine, it’s all in the measurement. “People who make the decisions to sponsor events might have feelings about their success, or anecdotal points of view. But with the right tools, you can actually prove it.”

—Barbara Scofidio