By Allison Saget
As the second half of the year approaches, you should be aware that your event and tradeshow budget is most likely going to be scrutinized … even more. Events often take the brunt of budget cutting but are often flagged to deliver the highest return on investment. This has happened so often to me that I not only wanted to give you a heads up but also share with you some key takeaways:
If the budget is limited, you can cut costs without it looking like a cheap event!
Don’t spread your money too thin, spend it right. First, determine the purpose and your target audience — why are you doing this? Is it for fun or to introduce a new product or service? You can save lots of money just by knowing the exact guest list. For example, we changed a three-hour evening reception from 6–9 p.m. to an after-hours get-together from 9-10:30 p.m. We worked with the host hotel and cornered off a section of the lobby bar for a private reception. Bar snack foods were served and premium drinks were handled on consumption. We went from a $10,000 event to one that cost just $3,000. By switching up the context, we stayed focused on targeting the right people, which helped with our budget. Best of all, our sales team had 1:1 time with its customers because at this hour they truly were a captive audience.
Stick to a timeline or checklist to ensure all details are taken care of!
Follow an event plan. The event plan outlines everything you need to cover for the program and includes: overview, audience profile, sponsors or partners, agenda, participants, branding, lead generation, and thought leadership and logistics from climate to dress/attire to food and beverage and entertainment. For me, it contains the components I want to include in the event, and then I marry those components to the budget. I attach a deadline date to when I want to have it completed by. A lot of timelines say six weeks in advance to this, three weeks to that. While it may work for some, I like to see the big picture, but remember it always gets done!
Be organized. Dedicate a half-hour to an hour per day in advance. Make a notebook and use dividers by each category — meaning have everything all in one place whenever you need to reference it and not in piles on your desk or on the floor. Get it done when you think of it. If you use an outside vendor write down all contact info and confirmation numbers, have cell phone, delivery tracking numbers, etc.
Ask for discounts. If you’re well planned, don’t be afraid to ask for a better price! And depending on your group size and type, paying by consumption can be a great alternative to package pricing.
Be solutions-oriented and don’t stress! Remember you are the only one who will know if something got messed up. Most everything is fixable, even onsite. Be nice at all times and keep a smile on your face.
Allison Saget is the president of event marketing consulting firm EventBLT (http://www.eventblt.com) and author of “The Event Marketing Handbook: Beyond Logistics and Planning.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.