Running a marketing event can be a highly effective way to promote your brand, engage with your customers, and generate new leads. Event marketing can offer an impressive ROI, but only if you don’t overspend on the event itself. You don’t need a huge budget to run a successful event. If you’re looking for ideas on how to save money on your next marketing event, use some of the following tips and strategies to keep your costs down.
- It’s possible to run an effective and engaging event on a small budget.
- Event management software can save you time and money, and there are many affordable solutions available.
- Marketing and promotion can take up a big chunk of your budget, so opt for low-cost marketing channels.
1. Choose a Venue That Offers Value for Money
Renting a venue can eat up a large proportion of your total event budget so it should be the first thing you look at when you’re considering where you can save money.
Choosing a downtown venue with good transport links can be helpful for attendees, however, these locations are also more expensive than those further out of town.
Consider choosing a venue on the outskirts of the city. This also tends to have the benefit of more parking spaces and less traffic for those who are driving to the event.
You may worry that being too far from public transport may be off-putting to attendees, however, you’ll probably find that those who really want to attend your event will find a way to do so, even if it’s slightly less convenient. It may even be more cost effective to hire a shuttle bus to provide transport between downtown transport hubs and the event venue.
2. Automate the Registration and Ticketing Processes
Manual processing of hand-written application forms, data input, and sending out tickets in the mail can cost you a lot of extra time and money. Printing and mailing costs soon add up, and the additional staff time needed to process paperwork can add a significant expense to your operational costs.
Streamline your processes by automating registration and ticketing and sending out information digitally via email or an app.
There are many automated ticketing software solutions available for event planners. By using these platforms you can easily sell tickets online (and set automatic pricing levels), keep track of registrations, send out information and reminders, integrate with social media, and gather and analyze data in real time.
3. Automate Event Promotion
B2B enterprises that utilize marketing and event automation see a 451% increase in qualified leads. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, with marketing and event automation in sync, capturing rich attendee data has never been easier. Once that data has been captured, marketers can send triggered email campaigns or notifications to their CRM system to alert sales teams to follow-up with prospects based on attendee behavior and interest level. I speak and attend some of the best digital marketing conferences in the world, and I invariably find organizers automating promotions on multiple channels.
By integrating event automation and marketing automation, marketers accelerate the buyer’s journey. With the data collected by form fields during registration, engagement scoring during the event, and polling data, marketers can use attendee data throughout the entire event lifecycle. Syncing these two systems also saves valuable time and results in increased qualified leads and greater ROI.
Marketers can use event apps to collect rich attendee data, such as what sessions or booths prospects have attended. According to Marketing Charts, “88% of event attendees said that access to meeting or event schedules in an event app is important.” Not only does using an event app give marketers valuable data on their attendees and potential prospects, but it also gives attendees access to the information that they’re looking for, delivering a more organized and enjoyable event.
4. Use Free and Low-cost Technology
Event technology is all the rage these days, but it’s not necessary to spend a fortune on expensive equipment to run a successful event.
Augmented reality, interactive art displays, and projection mapping all look impressive and can help to create a memorable event, but you should consider them as a nice extra rather than basing your event around them.
If you’re planning an event on a smaller budget, go back to basics and plan to use some less advanced (and cheaper) technology solutions. There is plenty of affordable event technology available that can be used to help plan and run your event and engage attendees. Some examples include:
- Multi-use apps for reserving tickets, accessing schedule and speaker information, polling crowds, and surveying attendees
- Event diagramming software for organizing room layouts, seating arrangements, and furniture
- Email campaign software for pre-event marketing and gathering post-event feedback
- Projecting a social media wall of event hashtags (several free solutions available)
Many of these technology solutions are cloud-based, meaning they are very affordable to use at scale. The time savings they offer mean that they can save you money in the long run.
Making use of an event app is imperative in creating an engaging environment that peaks attendees’ interest. With event apps, you give your attendees the ability to create personal schedules, and stay up-to-date on what is happening during your event, which makes for an improved attendee experience. Happier and more engaged attendees results in an even more successful event, with greater ROI.
According to Conference Compass, “An event app enables interaction. Not only are attendees kept up-to-date, but they can also use it to create a personal schedule, sync this across multiple devices, and get notified when a presentation is about to start. Attendees can participate in live questionnaires and give feedback to presenters through the app, increasing engagement and interest.”
5. Opt for Low-Cost Marketing Channels
Marketing your event is crucial for its success. This can take up a large part of your budget – 43% of event organizers surveyed by Eventbrite said that marketing and promotion were their top costs. But you don’t have to spend a lot on paid advertising to get the word out.
If you want to market your event on a budget, there are many event marketing strategies and tactics that are affordable as well as effective:
- Content marketing offers an impressive ROI and you can outsource content production very easily if you don’t have the time or resources to do it in-house. Blogging about your event helps to boost your SEO and build buzz and interest in the build-up to the big day.
- Social media can reach a wide audience in a short time period and takes only minutes a day to manage.
- Email marketing is an effective way to reach a captive audience who is already interested in what you have to say. Some email marketing platforms offer free accounts and for just a few dollars more you can manage a list of tens of thousands of prospects.
- Influencer marketing can be done for free if you invite bloggers and leading figures in your industry to write and post about your event on social media in exchange for a complimentary ticket.
6. Partner with Brands and Local Businesses
If your budget doesn’t stretch as far as you like, you might want to consider sharing your costs rather than trying to reduce them.
Approaching brands to sponsor your event is a win for both sides. Brands benefit from increased visibility and more sales, and you get additional money to spend on your event.
If your event isn’t big enough to attract major sponsors, you can still partner with local businesses to provide attendee gifts bags or services such as catering and transportation. This means you won’t have to work these things into your budget and you’ll have more money to spend elsewhere.
7. Consider Virtual Speakers
Travel and accommodation costs for guest speakers can quickly add up, especially if they are traveling internationally.
If you absolutely must have a guest speaker at your event but the travel costs are prohibitive, consider setting up a virtual presentation via a live video link up. Video streaming technology is advanced enough these days to run question and answer sessions in real time from anywhere in the world.
Visualizing Event ROI
Check out the infographic below to learn how events are changing and how you can stay ahead of the curve!
My favorite thing to do in the world is to speak to people at events. I try to use an inspiration to action model that gets people thinking AND ready to act when they get back to the office. I’m proud to have been the highest ranked speaker at a number of events with much higher paid (and bigger ego) speakers. I’m a 3-time author, listed as a Forbes top CMO influencer,