It’s wonderful to see the line-up of major events emerging with so many opportunities and momentum building across our industry. I can’t help but feel there’s a growing understanding of the power of events, as it does look like most sports, destinations, governments, and various organisations are realising the value of an event-led strategy.
"If you haven’t got a World Cup right now, then who are you?" … host Catherine Murphy asked the CEOs of Australian sports at the recent SportNXT conference.
Big events provide big opportunities, and whether you’re going to work on these events, or grow your own, there is definitely something that we should all be thinking about, and applying, in any event.
Event-led growth strategies
We’ve all seen the value of events in capturing attention and imaginations, as they are announced, during them, and in leaving a legacy afterwards. And as we’ve seen across the world of sport and entertainment, more and more big plans are being made around showcase events, and some big bets have already been made, on a ‘blockbuster strategy’.
The ‘Blockbuster strategy’
The world of entertainment was transformed in relatively recent times by all the major players adopting what’s been called ‘a blockbuster strategy’, where movie studios, such as Warner Bros leveraged the ‘event-film strategy’ to great success.
This strategy of focusing on ‘blockbusters’, rather than lots of smaller projects or events had seen them have some big wins. And it’s a strategy adopted and followed by publishers, tv, music labels, video games and other media, entertainment, and sports providers, to lead the way in their markets.
According to Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse the ‘Blockbuster strategy’ is a way to describe the big bets being made in the world of entertainment, whether its film, television, book publishing or music, or a range of other industries – like sport and events.
Big bets for big wins
The core idea in the ‘blockbuster strategy’ is where an entertainment company, sports organisation (or any rights holder or content producer) spends a disproportionate amount of their budget on just a select few of the most likely winners (rather than spreading their money over the year, or the years).
What Elberse found was that the average return was higher for those that invested in a few bigger bets, than lots of smaller ones.
While this approach does come with its risks, what the research and results have revealed is that the blockbuster strategy is actually a safer bet than investing in lots of small projects.
Why is this useful for you?
There is a bit to it, and different scenarios, but there are a few compelling reasons why a blockbuster event led strategy is worth considering for your situation:
1. Attention - Big things capture interest, and focus your audience
When there are lots of things going on, it’s sometimes hard to have anything to talk about and to be talked about. So your audience, your members, partners stakeholders and your team, all have something to focus on, much more so than if you just have usual operations and lots of meaningless occasions
2. Growth – ambitious projects can galvanise investment
When you put a big effort into one occasion, you get others who want to join in. Those partners, fans, participants and members, and everyone across your organisation, all have something to contribute, much more so than if you just carry on with business as usual
“If you swing for the fences, lots of people will come and support you”.
3. The bottom line – investing in less can be more cost-efficient.
If you invest in a small number of big movies or events, it can cost a lot less than lots of smaller ones. For example – even if you double the production budget for your event you're not necessarily doubling the advertising budget. And if your blockbuster idea is right, you can 10x your revenues.
4. Momentum – there is nothing like a high-profile success story to bring other people to your party.
Whether it be your audiences, partners, stakeholder and even retaining your talent behind the scenes, high profile wins, are the best way to keep staying successful.
The Next Blockbusters!?
It would appear we’re now out of our worst phase ever as an industry, events are back, big time, and are being harnessed by most of the leading players to create and drive growth, in many different ways.
Investing in events can be a valuable strategy. To drive outcomes on many levels.
So what does it mean for you?
You don’t have to be a major corporate, a international sports organisation or a high profile destination to use the blockbuster strategy.
Any size of organisation can use events to attract and drive growth and generate a legacy. We can all use events to generate progress and use tentpole moments to amplify what it is we are promoting.
It doesn’t have to be a FIFA World Cup to get attention and legacy – our local sports club used a gala day to get attention, players, energy and funding into the club.
But, big bets need big plans
We should obviously acknowledge that while big events create lots of opportunities, and may provide better results, it can also be a lot harder getting there.
So, while we should focus our energy on more meaningful occasions, and creating blockbuster content, that needs a strong plan. Because betting big means maximising the gains, it also means managing risks.
Do you have a missing link?
Everyone likes events, most organisations have them, but many aren’t necessarily thinking about this strategically. The events just occur, or they may try to get bigger, but there is no big plan, no vision, or backing.
So, while I’m sure you will always have your Event Plan, and our organizations always have a Strategic Plan, there is often a gap.
The business has a big plan, and an event has all its management and marketing plans, but there is no robust strategic plan for these events, and opportunities like a ‘blockbuster strategy’ are left unexplored.
You might have your event plan already, or your events may be fine as they are, but if I can help you create your blockbuster strategy, please do let me know.
We’ve all seen the leading organisations are going big and winning with events.
And I think we should too.
Tools you can use!
Discovering a Gameplan
Our event strategy process includes Discovery sessions to unpack our
Sport Experience Value Model. Making sure we find the right match between your organisation and the audience you serve. Just let me know if you'd like to explore some more.