Key to running successful business events on a budget

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Hosting an event can be a great way to promote your small business.

By Henry Brown

A lot of business events appear very expensive. Some of them do cost a lot, but it’s not necessary to have a huge budget all the time to host an event. Business events can be excellent ways to promote your brand if you choose the right type and invite the right people. However, if you’re looking at running one on a tight budget, you might be worried that you won’t be able to do anything impressive with the available resources. Even without a large budget, you should still be able to create a successful event. You just need to think carefully about the most effective ways to use your funds.

Determine your budget

The first thing you always need to do is decide how much money you have to spend on your event. You’ll have to think about the funds you have available to use right now, and what you can bring in with your event. Are you aiming to secure some sponsors to fund your event and marketing for it? Is it a paid event for which people will buy tickets, and if so, how many do you realistically think you’re going to sell? You also need to consider how much you want to charge for entrance to the event, as well as any extras that might be on offer.

Consider the size of tour event

Thinking about how large your event can be is, of course, an essential part of making the most of your budget. The larger your event is, the further you will need to make your budget stretch. If you’re a small business, you probably don’t need to host a huge event. In fact, if you try to go big, you could struggle to get enough people to attend. You need to consider how many people you can realistically provide for, and what you can provide for them. Will there be food and drinks, activities, and perhaps freebies to take home? If people are buying tickets, what do they get for the price?

Find the right venue

When you’ve thought about how big your event is going to be, you need somewhere to host it. To make things easier, you can start looking at venues that offer event packages. You’ll be able to save money by bundling everything you need into one package instead of trying to plan everything separately. Of course, the cost isn’t all you should think about. Your event needs to be in a convenient location, and the venue needs to offer useful facilities, such as parking and tech, that can benefit both you and your guests. Sometimes, you might have to make compromises to find the right venue or perhaps reduce the size of your event.

Compare prices for materials and equipment

You might need several types of material and equipment to run your event. They could range from banners and AV equipment to smaller things like pens or event programs. Fortunately, you can find cheaper options for a lot of things, especially those that there’s no need to spend lots of money on. For example, perhaps you want all your event guests to have a lanyard that makes it easier for them to go in and out. You can find an economy ID carrying option that’s perfectly adequate for these purposes when it only needs to last a couple of days or perhaps just one day. Price comparisons are key to finding the best deal for anything, but remember that you need to compare quality too.

Promote your event for free or cheap

Promoting your event doesn’t have to cost too much. You should have some great channels available to you to get the word out, especially if you have a specific invite list. First, you can use social media to create event pages, which people can share. Create an event page on your website or an events site where people can sell tickets or book a place, or perhaps just express their interest. You can share it on social media, as well as through your mailing list or if you’re directly contacting people who you want to come to your event. Start promoting your event as soon as you can. If you leave it too late, you might end up having to spend more on it.

Focus money where it’s needed most

Working with a small event budget is all about prioritizing the funds you have available. You have to spend your money on the right things and know where it’s appropriate to make savings. One thing you’ll need to think about first is which expenses are going to afford you little flexibility. For example, hiring AV equipment could cost you the same amount for a smaller event as it will for a slightly larger one. Even if you have fewer people coming to your event, speakers will still expect to be paid the same. Then you can think about which costs are more flexible, and which ones are priorities. This will depend on the nature of your event, and the promises you’re making to the people you’re inviting. However, there are some things always worth investing in, such as staff.

Try not to be too cheap

Although there are many ways you can make savings, you don’t want to cut costs too much. Sometimes, you can go too far, and the people attending your event will be able to tell that you didn’t spend a lot. There are plenty of ways to save money without offering your attendees something cheap. You can find the middle ground between saving money and making sure you give your guests a quality experience. If you’re going to send them home with freebies, you can get quality items that are well made but still save money by buying them in bulk. Great value doesn’t have to mean cheap.

Keep it short

A two or three-day conference might sound like the kind of epic, impressive event you want to host. But the longer you hold your event for, the more it’s going to cost you. Bigger isn’t always better, and you don’t need several days of speakers and activities to leave an impression on your attendees. If your event is shorter, you will save money on the venue and everything you need for it. You’ll need to book fewer people to come and speak and arrange fewer activities for people to do. Plan your event so that there’s less for you to pay for over a shorter time.

Save with technology

The use of sophisticated technology can make your event more expensive, but it can often give you the chance to save too. If you can set up a projector and a screen at your event, it could allow you to do all sorts of things. You could play recorded messages from speakers you can’t afford to pay to come to the event or who aren’t able to come. You could also have a live stream for people to present something without having to travel to the venue. It can also allow people who aren’t at the event to watch what’s happening.

Consider catering carefully

You’re probably thinking about providing some food and drink at your event. Some events will have more than others, but perhaps you’re considering having some canapés and drinks, at least. You obviously want to ensure there’s enough to go around, but many people have a tendency to go overboard when arranging event catering. You should make sure you’re not getting too much, and you won’t be wasting money on food no one will eat. Think about the food and drink your guests will be expecting. They might be intending to go elsewhere to eat in between activities.

Avoid impulse buys

Whenever you’re planning an event, there is the temptation to buy things without thinking. It’s very important to stay organized and to consider everything carefully before you make a purchase. If you buy things you don’t need, it could be too late to go back on it if you need to cut costs later on. When you’re planning an event, you can have various people try to sell you things you don’t need or upgrade what you were intending to get. Make sure you think everything over before saying yes.

Track your expenses

When you’re planning your event, keep track of everything you spend to ensure you stick to your budget. You can use specialist event planning software, which can be helpful, but it’s not essential. You can also just create a spreadsheet and input all your expenses to keep track of them. You might also consider using a mobile app so you can track your event expenses on the move. Watching what you spend will make it easier to make the most of your budget.
A modest budget doesn’t have to stop you from creating an effective and successful business event. Use your funds wisely, and you can do it properly.

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Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

 

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