Want to bring in the cash, attract clients with ease and network like a ninja? It all sounds great, right? These are just a few of the benefits of hosting your own business event. The good news is that hosting a successful event that achieves your goals can be done, even on the bare minimum budget.
The question is, how?
We’ve put together seven essential event planning tips and important things to consider when organizing small business events. These tips will help you save money and time while ensuring your event is a hit with your guests. You’ll be hosting and running a top-notch business event in no time, all without breaking the bank!
6 event planning tips for businesses on a budget
1. Set clear and measurable goals
First things first: Sit down and set clear, measurable goals that you can use to guide all future decisions. The biggest money and time wasters are due to a lack of clarity, so defining your goals will help you avoid any unnecessary costs that aren’t serving your main purpose.
Some examples of clear goals you might set:
- Sell 200 Tickets
- Invite/book 3 Speakers
- Start promoting the event and selling tickets in 20 days
- Host the event in 60 days
- Spend less than $500
Moving forward, you can relate every decision you make back to the goals you set. Per the example above, you won’t procrastinate and drag out the planning process because you’ve set a goal of promoting and selling within 20 days—and, for example, you won’t get distracted and tempted by every speaker opportunity that arises because you’ve set a goal of having only three.
When you’re ready to take action on your goals and bring your event to life, EventBrite’s got a handy timeline and template for taking the next steps.
RELATED STORY: Goal-setting, Part 1
2. Hone in on your audience
It’s important to have a great understanding of your audience so you can plan an event that will generate a lot of buzz and interest. Your event will be a reflection of you and your business, so you want to make sure it brings value to those who attend.
Some questions you should ask yourself to understand your audience better:
- What are my target audience’s interests? (What sponsors would they relate to?)
- What time and location would suit their needs? (Do they work late? Are they local? Could inclement weather affect the event?)
- What price is suitable for my audience? (Are they students or professionals?)
When you are 100 percent sure on who the audience is, you can effectively use your marketing spend through tools like social media targeting and creating your marketing collateral in the language and style that most attracts them. When it comes to things to consider when organizing an event, defining your audience is perhaps the most vital.
RELATED STORY: 6 steps to creating a targeted marketing strategy
3. Budget at the beginning
One of the most important things to consider when organizing an event is outlining your budget from the beginning. It’s also necessary to define what you want to achieve with the event—is it to network, get new clients, raise your profile?
Work out how much a new client is worth to you, and use that to help guide your budget. For example, if a new client is worth $1,000 to your business, how many clients will you need to acquire to cover the cost of your event?
Setting your budget at the beginning will help you identify what you can and can’t afford. You can answer questions such as: Will you print paper tickets? Or will you save money and send electronic tickets? Furthermore, 10 percent wriggle room gives you the leg space to handle unexpected circumstances and expenses.
RELATED STORY: 6 event planning mistakes that will destroy your budget
4. Use free event management software
Using event management software is one of the most important things to consider when organizing an event on a limited budget. Fortunately, there is a ton of free event management software you can use to help make the planning and organization of your event a breeze. Most software will include features such as ticketing, custom branding, event schedules, data management and registration forms.
At Little Tokyo Two, our favorite options for free event management software are EventLeaf, RSVPify and Odoo. One of the most popular and comprehensive platforms for event management is EventBrite. It’s free to get started on EventBrite, but you will have to start paying once you make a sale. You’ll also find plenty of event management tips for beginners within the platforms.
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5. Implement a social media strategy
Social media is a powerful platform you can use to promote your event and create buzz. Did you know a social media presence can increase attendee engagement by 33 percent? Facebook is the most powerful platform for marketing events, and if you can spare some money in your budget for Facebook Ads and the time to target well, they will be well worth the investment.
Facebook’s in-depth targeting features will allow you to deliver your ads to the right people, maximizing your chances of converting viewers to ticket sales. Offering a limited-time discount is a great way to get more people to buy. Consider starting a Facebook Event to raise more awareness and to keep in contact with people who have purchased a ticket.
LinkedIn is another great platform to use to promote your business event. You can update your LinkedIn status, publish a post promoting the event, post in relevant groups, and even advertise on the platform. EventBrite have also written a great article on how to use LinkedIn to promote your business event.
During the event, Twitter and Instagram are great platforms to use for attendee engagement and promotion of your brand and event. Using your event hashtag will not only raise awareness of the event, but it will also result in a great collection of photos and videos from the event that you can use later.
Having a social media strategy in place allows you to keep your guests updated before the event as well as engage with them after the event to get feedback. Some other effective social media strategies you can use to help your event succeed include creating an event hashtag, sharing behind-the-scenes content and streaming live video from the event. The best thing about social media: It’s only the time it takes to manage and enhances your public business profile.
RELATED STORY: 6 B2B social media marketing tips for eventprofs
6. Find Sponsors
Finding sponsors for your event is a great way to save money if you’re on a tight budget. First, consider your event topic and the audience and then brainstorm what sort of businesses might be interested in being a sponsor.
You don’t need to think of big, wealthy companies when considering sponsors. Get creative and approach some local businesses that might be interested. For example, approach a local caterer to sponsor the food, or find a local business to sponsor gift bags for the guests. Relevant companies will also be interested in having their name displayed on emails, tickets and signs at the event and will consider the sponsorship as brand awareness and exposure.
You can also enhance your business’ social conscience by partnering with sponsors who donate a percentage of their profits to charity. For example, you could use The Good Beer Co., a social enterprise beer company, to supply beverages for the night. The Good Beer Co. donate 50 percent of profits to their charity partners.
RELATED STORY: Tips for attracting event sponsors, Part 1
Hosting an event on a shoestring budget will be a challenge, but it’s certainly possible, and the benefits you’ll receive will make it worth the trouble. If you use the event planning tips above you’ll be well on your way to planning a low-cost event with big rewards.
At Little Tokyo Two, we have event spaces in each of our locations, with the perfect space suited to your needs, body count and the environment you’d like.