Business events are a brilliant tool for marketing and networking, but when you consider the cost, they’re not always the most efficient strategy. Hosting an event is incredibly expensive and even though you will come out of it with some good connections and plenty of great leads, you may still feel that it wasn’t worth the investment. So, should you just give up on business events?
You could give up on events, but then you’ll be missing out on some great opportunities. What you need to do instead is find ways to ensure that you see a good return on your investment in events. The easiest way to do that is to cut the cost of hosting the event in the first place. Before you plan your next business event, make sure that you keep these cost-cutting tips in mind.
Consider a Virtual Event
Business events have been difficult to host in the past year due to COVID restrictions, so a lot of companies are putting on virtual business events instead. Some people feel that it’s not the same as meeting in person and would prefer to do things the old school way, and that’s fine. However, you should consider hosting a virtual event because you still get a lot of the same benefits. It’s still an effective way to generate leads and network with people, but you don’t have anywhere near as many costs to cover. There’s no expensive venue to hire and no food or drinks to supply. You can still give out freebies by sending them to people and you can still get speakers to do live broadcasts, so you don’t miss much from the experience, it’s just way cheaper.
It might be worth considering hosting virtual events on a regular basis and then having the occasional in-person event, so you can manage the cost while still seeing the benefits.
Negotiate with the Venue
The venue is usually one of the biggest costs when planning an event, but most people pay more than they need to because they don’t negotiate. If you just pay the price without question, you’re wasting money, so you’ve got to haggle with them and see if they can knock the price down. In this instance, it may be best to use a corporate event planner because they will have a good idea of the best venues in your price range and, most importantly, they can negotiate the contract for you and get you a reduction. Event planners have long standing relationships with these venues and they bring them a lot of business, which means that they carry a lot of weight in negotiations and venues are likely to give them a discount that they wouldn’t offer you if you went directly to the venue on your own.
When selecting venues and negotiating the price with them, don’t forget to consider the equipment that is included. If they have all of the A/V equipment, big screens, and free wifi included in the normal price, this is a big bonus for you. But you incur a lot of added costs if you have to provide all of that yourself.
Be Flexible About Dates
You may have an ideal date in mind for your event, but be prepared to be flexible if you want to save money. If you book your event during the busiest periods for venues and equipment hire companies, they will charge a premium. So, why not have your event during their slow period and save yourself a lot of money? If you call up venues and simply ask when their least busy periods are, you’re already in a strong negotiating position. You can reasonably ask for a discount because you know that they don’t have much on at that time. As long as you take the time to check that the dates and times are convenient for your attendees, you should be fine. It’s best to double-check that your event doesn’t clash with any others either, or you may find that nobody shows up.
Offer Digital Freebies
People love freebies at events but let’s face it, most of that stuff ends up in the bin soon after. Branded pens and keyrings are not very inspiring gifts and they contribute to waste, so why not go for a more eco-friendly option and save yourself some money at the same time by offering digital freebies instead? Your knowledge and expertise are more valuable than a free mouse mat or branded water bottle, which is why ebooks make such a great giveaway at events. Giving everybody an access code for a free download is so much cheaper than buying lots of branded items. It’s also better for the environment and delivers more value to the attendees, so it’s a no-brainer.
Marketing materials for your event cost a lot of money too, so you should consider going paperless if possible. Instead of sticking posters up everywhere and handing out sheets and sheets of paper, why not consider building an event app with all of that information on? It’s more convenient for the attendees, it looks professional, and it’s more cost-effective. Although the initial investment may be higher, you can use it at all future events, saving yourself a lot of money.
In the lead up to the event, when you are trying to promote it, take advantage of digital marketing methods. A well thought out email campaign is one of the best ways to generate interest in the event, and social media works brilliantly too. Making regular posts in the days and weeks before the event will build anticipation and hopefully boost the number of attendees on the day, without the need to spend a lot of money.
Business events can be an effective way to find new leads and generate revenue for your business, but those benefits can be offset by the cost of hosting the event in the first place, meaning that your return on investment isn’t that great. But if you follow these cost-cutting tips, you can avoid that problem and ensure that the ROI for your next business event is good.