I've said it before and will never stress it enough, a sound budget most of the times ensures a succesful event.
A structured budget helps in monitoring costs, understanding what you can afford, reporting to management and most of all keeping things under control. In this post a bit on budgeting and cutting costs.
The first step in coming up with a comprehensive eg. conference budget is to separate expenditures and income.
For an average conference EXPENDITURES will be:
- Advertising and Promotion
- Speakers/Performers token
- Speakers/Performers accommodation
INCOME might be:
- Public Funds (Should they be available)
Just having these things written down makes me feel better...In fact now I can control, monitor and allocate financial weight to each item. How nice is that! See here for templates and more items.
Second step is cutting costs. Why? I see the event manager mission as spending the least amount of money while making everyone participating or having interest in the event happy.
Let's see some tricks and please, you event planners out there, comment on this post and share yours!
- One vs. Multiple events. I will always prefer to go larger. One main event helps you in leveraging your financial/promotional/logistic efforts in one direction.
One criticism might be that to put all eggs in one basket increases risk.
Nevertheless, if we look at events as complex structures of small activities, increasing the number of activities might increase total risk, while shrinking the structure might work well.
If we e.g. have three 100-people events with three different promotional campaigns, we will have to probably manage 3 separate ad agencies. One main event would put the things together and minimize risk while cutting costs.
Of course it is necessary to have a content that could be homogeneously wrapped together in one day.
- One vs Multiple Suppliers. As for the above working with a trustable supplier gives you more bargaining power. But then again risk increases. In this instance is always useful to have a plan B with some lastminute AV solutions or catering contingency plan.
- Publishing. Do your own publishing. There are several free tools to come up with sound promotional material. Leverage on that as much as you can, as outsourcing in this case could be very expensive.
Use my blog and other online resources to find templates, tutorials and tools on how to design badges, brochures, flyers etc.
The fact that I did the badges myself for the last event I organized, also gave me a lot of flexibility to modify names from registration forms or add new people that showed up at the conference without registering.
- Video Conferencing. For meetings and conference planners, use online tools as much as you can. I will soon be posting on free tools that help you having online video conferencing and powerpoint or desktop sharing.
It is a good practice because it helps in cutting the major expenditure in conferences, travel and accommodation for speakers.
Try to limit the speakers mix to the canonical 80/20. Where 20% is non local speakers which might have a promotional benefit for the event and thus repay the investment. Look for speakers in your area so you do not have to pay for accommodation.
- Come up with a sound sponsorship strategy. Selling tickets or registrations could test your heart seriously. If everything is in place you should be able to sell out all the tickets you have plannned to give away.
From my experience that does not happen all the time.
Sponsors help in reducing the leverage on ticket as the main source of income thus diversifying risk. If you have visibility, sell it to 2 or 3 sponsors that might be interested in your target.
Come up with advertising solutions tailored to your prospect, design target profiles and give them numbers. 2 or 3 sponsor might help financially as much as 200 registrations so you might want to consider to invest in this sense.
- Look out for public funds. Depending on the event content there might be a community interested in sponsoring an event with public funds available. Leverage on that.
- Look for discounts and negotiate. Having the venue to manage most of the activities increases the price and thus your bargaining power toward a better rate. Bulk up and ask for a good price and let them know you are considering different options...I am sure you'll end up surprised of people reactions.