Sarah Halfpenny Events

Event Budget: Top 10 tips to delivering a first-class event without blowing the budget.

by Sarah Halfpenny

All businesses, large or small has a marketing and communication plan. It probably includes the usual mix of newsletters, articles, blogs, adverts, social media stories and more. But does it include hosting events? An event can and should be considered as part of a business’s marketing mix, but all too often it is left out completely due to a lack of clear objectives, time to deliver it and crucially lack of available event budget to commit.

An event, can contribute to the growth and reputation of a business, big or small. It is often the only marketing tactic that leverages face to face interaction with a selected audience. It allows a business to converse and connect with the people that matter and can build your community, nurture long term partnerships and loyalty.

I want to break the myth that you need a big event budget to deliver an impactful event. You don’t. I have seen first-hand that you can create an event which contributes positively to business growth and development on a small event budget. Here are my top 10 tips!

1) Big isn’t always better!
An event doesn’t have to be held on a large scale neither does it have to take all day. To save money on day delegate fees and all-day room hire etc., consider if you can meet your objectives with a 2-hour event program instead. This then opens up the option of breakfast or early evening events that will be cheaper and take less time to pull together.

2) Do your research
When finding your perfect venue that can accommodate your requirements, budget and availability, do your research and be open minded. Consider all venue types, room styles and explore different locations. By creating a shortlist of venues with costs, you will also find yourself in a more informed position to negotiate with your 1st choice venue.

3) Sometimes, all you need is space!
With your objectives at the forefront of every decision you make, actually, sometimes all you need is some space. Could you utilise your own space? Could you partner with someone else and use their space? Could you co-locate your event with someone else? Or would it be appropriate to use a community space? Whatever avenue you take, focus on providing a space that allows genuine interaction between you and the delegates whilst you can still showcase and display your product or service.

4) Seek an event sponsor
Sponsors can financially support the delivery of an event. It can either allow an event to happen, or can allow you to ‘upgrade’ on the experience you give to your delegates.
Finding the right sponsor may take some time, but once you have, it often becomes a mutually beneficial partnership.

5) Don’t be afraid to negotiate
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Suppliers could save you money but offering a reduction or they may offer to assist with your event marketing or even become an event sponsor or partner.

6) Event Tech or no event Tech!
Elements of event technology are expected at larger events but arguably the costs aren’t justified for something smaller. Don’t feel pressured into building an event app, hiring a drone or catchbox so you can hear questions from the audience. Go old skool!
For example, using white boards, chalk boards and ‘post it’s’ is a great way to communicate your messages and gather questions from your delegates at very little cost.

7) Event handouts
Many events come with information, whether that’s a report, academic insight, white paper, or set of statistics. Save money on printing this information. Instead opt to share this information post event via email. You can also thank guests for attending at the same time.

8) Free Marketing
You don’t have to spend money on printed initiations or flyers. Instead create a robust on-line event marketing campaign. Start talking to your immediate business connections, suppliers, customers and stakeholders. Use relevant free event listings and post event details on appropriate social media channels.

9) Catering choices
My top tip here is to work with your venue to develop a menu that best suits your budget. Don’t feel like you have to choose their standard offering. Talk to them about how they could use cheaper ingredients, swap canapes for nuts and olives, swap the Danish pastry for a biscuit and even ask if you can bring your own wine. Do however always provide good quality tea and coffee! That is definitely something not to skimp on!

10) A smile, costs nothing!
A warm welcome costs absolutely nothing and requires no event budget at all. The way you make your delegates feel is arguably more important than the room you are in and the food you serve. Make your guests feel welcome, valued and appreciated from the moment they walk in.

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