Dreaming of a bigger budget? You’re not alone.
In a survey of more than 1,000 event creators, 90% said their budget is insufficient.
The good news? When you know your top expenses, you can plan your budget around them. Here are event creators’ four most costly event expenses, and how you can offset that spend.
Costly event expense #1: Marketing and promotion
It’s easy for your marketing budget to bloat. Social media ads, search ads, display ads, paid sponsorships, brand ambassador relationships — it’s easy to find yourself spending too much money on promotional campaigns.
It isn’t intuitive, but you can cut back without hurting sales. For instance, you can use your owned social channels as a creative, cost-effective way to reach attendees. In fact, 96% of survey takers said that social media contests were effective tools for attracting attendees.
Remember that prior attendees are the ones most likely to buy tickets again. For that reason, appealing to your mailing list with inexpensive email campaigns can be a helpful way to increase conversion. Survey takers actually said email outreach was their most effective marketing tactic in 2017.
Take advantage of inexpensive digital marketing tools like these, and you bring your bottom line down while raising awareness way up.
Costly event expense #2: Speakers and talent
Between cost and availability, securing speakers and talent is a top challenge for event creators.
Well-known performers and speakers are a big draw for attendees, and that’s a big budget item for creators. According to the survey, 32% of event creators find that acquiring speakers or talent is their highest expense. These “special guests” can be expensive — up the hundreds of thousands for some marquee names.
Thankfully, there are ways you can bring down your headliner costs:
- Look for a special guest who is “on tour” in your area promoting a new book, album, bottle release, or other types of project. If they’re already in the area, it will help reduce costs for travel and accommodations.
- Book early and ask if there are discounts for using the speaker or performer for multiple occasions.
- Read through the contracts and ask questions about cancellation policies and additional fees (like autograph signing or press interviews).
Costly event expense #3: Printed materials
Most events still have a line item on their budget for printed materials — things like handouts, signage, direct mail, programs, or even tickets. And the cost for these printed materials adds up.
One way to curb this expense is to cut down on the number of things you print. And in doing so, you can actually uplevel your attendee satisfaction. In fact, 75% of millennials are willing to pay more for eco-friendly offerings.
Here are three ways to reduce your printing costs — and delight your attendees:
- Replace paper tickets with an event management solution that includes digital tickets.
- Replace printed programs with a customized event app.
- Replace onsite signage with beacon technology.
As technology gets more affordable, the options for replacing paper become more plentiful every year.
Costly event expense #4: Venues
Location. Location. Location.
A famous adage for a reason. Choosing the right venue is paramount. You could probably find a cheaper place — but should you?
Your venue is likely going to be a pretty big expense, but don’t let added costs sneak into this area of your budget. Before you sign a venue contract, make sure that things like water usage, catering, cleanup, and any taxes and service charges are taken into consideration.
Other ways to offset costs
Sometimes, your four top expenses are worth splurging on. So to compensate, offset the costs in other ways.
- Automate what you can with technology. Automation doesn’t just save you money on man hours; typically, automation tools boost your productivity and optimize your outcomes. Tools such as Boostable, ToneDen, and Radario help automate and optimize social media advertising.
- Reevaluate your ticket pricing strategy. Are you sure you’re charging as much as you could be? Is there room for a higher-priced VIP option? Attendees are willing to pay a little (or a lot) more for something special, and a third of them expect VIP packages.
- Give sponsors ideas and incentives. Ditch the old “gold, silver, platinum” packages. Work directly with your sponsors to customize brand activations they’ll pay more for — and see more ROI from.
- Build local partnerships. Swap services for sponsorship space, so you don’t have to pay for things like catering and cleaning.
You probably can’t eliminate marketing, speakers, printed materials, and venue costs from your budget entirely. But you can make savvy decisions on where to allocate your spending, and where to offset it.
For more ideas on where to focus your spend in the 2018 event industry for best return, download the Pulse Report: 2018 Event Industry Trends.