When it comes to marketing your business, event marketing can be one of the highest-impact options. Events are a great backdrop for brand exposure, experiential marketing, and generating word of mouth. However, to get the most out of them, you need to plan accordingly. One critical area of planning that you want to do early is budgeting. Here are some things to consider when you develop your event budget.
Location, Location, Location
One of the elements that will drive your event budget is setting the venue. The obvious cost with this is the rental fee and tax associated with using the space you want – indoors or outdoors. However, there are other costs that may be less obvious, and you want to find out what they are before a contract is signed.
The venue is just a space, and it is the vendors and services that you layer on top of it that make your event distinctive. You may have food and beverage needs, audio visual needs, décor needs, special ground transportation or parking needs, etc. These elements should be factored into the overall cost. If you prefer to use third-party vendors, you should confirm that your contract with the venue will allow you to do so. Many venues charge fees for bringing in third-party vendors, and that needs to be negotiated or factored into your budget. Even items like donated wine are not free for you if your venue charges a corkage fee that matches the cost of the bottle of wine!
Your event is not just a one day promotional opportunity, but a campaign that spans many months and phases. The more time and money you budget for promotions, the more you will get out of your event. Consider that your event has four phases: advanced notice, pre-event, event day, and post-event. To maximize your reach, impressions, and attendance, you want to budget for promotions in all of these phases.
Advanced notice could begin as early as the day of your event for the next year’s event! Anything you do to ask your audience to save the date throughout the year is important groundwork for the heavier promotion you will do closer to the event. This might include networking, investing in booths at partner events, running print, radio, or television advertisements, sending out holiday cards, or any number of other options.
Pre-event begins the moment you drop your invitations or evites. Plan for the costs associated with sharing your invitation far and wide and generating word of mouth. You want to be able to have steady promotions happening throughout this phase with a stronger push at the opening and closing of registrations.
Event day is your chance to maximize the experience for your guests. Make sure you have your branding front and center with proper signage. (We can help you with this! Read here for more information about what we offer to allow you to put your brand at the forefront of your event). Think about places where your attendees might take photos and ensure you have budgeted for branded signs or backdrops. If you want your guests to have a token of the event to remember you by, add in swag items. If you want to have documentation of the event or footage for future promotions, include a line item for a photographer and/or videographer. And don’t forget about any printed or registration materials you will need to give your guests to identify and inform them.
Lastly, plan to promote your event after it happens. You got your best material at the event, so now you want to share it. How will you distribute photos and testimonials from your happy attendees? How will you report any impressive stats on attendance or fundraising to show people how great your event was? You probably have enough content to continue promoting your event for a month or two!
Programming and Personnel
Do you want entertainment? Keynote speakers? Guest presenters? An emcee? A deejay? Will you have any VIPs or politicians involved that require amenities? Some of these people may expect an honorarium or other perks.
If you plan to have volunteers at the event, you will want to consider the budget required to treat them well. What are you providing them in terms of food or drink, uniforms, training, or gifts? Volunteers are extra support for you when you need it, but they are not necessarily free labor. The better you treat your volunteers, the more of them will come back the next year.
As you budget, you should factor in any mechanisms or programming that will generate revenue. There may be costs associated with these, too!
Tickets may incur credit card fees or surcharges. Auctions may involve buying material to dress up items, shipping costs, and a lot of staff time. Sponsorships may incur a cost for activating certain benefits. You will want to put the expected revenue into your budget, but remember to account for the fact that it might not all be money directly into your pocket.
Events are a more complex way to market your brand, but the potential to reach a high volume of people with meaningful impressions often makes them worthwhile. The best way to maximize your event is to starting your planning early. Your event budget should be one of the first strategic elements you develop to ensure you are keeping your event on track. We hope this helps you get started!