1. Event Success Platform - An event success platform that fits your event goals will likely be the best investment you can make with your event budget. The amount of organization, streamlining, and insights that you will gain from your event technology will help inform decisions for not just one event, but for all future events and programing as well.
From event registration to contact management, choosing the right event management software will be a foundational piece to your event planning and attendee experience. Be sure to allocate sufficient funds and decision-making time for the particular part of your budget. It could make all the difference.
For more information on how to choose the right platform for you, check out the Event Software Buyers Guide.
2. Event App - An equally important aspect of the event planning process and the overall attendee experience will be your event app. Often times your event management software provider will have an event app that they offer as part of the package. You’ll want to allocate sufficient funds for the event app as it will be a great source of data from the backend as well as a pivotal portion of the attendee experience.
Learn more about choosing an event app in the Event App Guide.
3. Integrations - While some software solutions will be able to integrate with others right out of the box, others may require additional integration solutions. These solutions could be something like an open API (where a tech team connects two solutions together), Webhooks (a similar process), or an integration platform as a service (like Zapier or Mulesoft).
You can learn more about software integrations in this guide.
Once the event technology has been chosen, another significant chunk of the budget should be dedicated to your overall marketing strategy for the event. Of course there are countless channels and methods that you could put your money towards, but we've listed a few popular event promotional strategies that event organizers take below.
1. Paid Search - If you anticipate that many potential attendees will be using online search to find events similar to yours, consider dedicating some of your promotional budget towards SEO and paid search. The most popular platform used for a paid search strategy is Google AdWords.
To give a brief breakdown of its functionality, Google AdWords allows advertisers to bid on certain keywords that they wish to rank for. For example, if you are organizing a low scale startup event in San Francisco, below are a few keywords you may want to bid for.
Based on information such as monthly search volume and overall demand for that keyword, you’ll want to decide on a competitive price in relation to others who are also bidding for that keyword. Also keep in mind that for Google AdWords only charges when someone clicks on your link. Take these factors into consideration as you strategize how much of your budget you should allocate to paid search.
2. Public Relations - Investing in more traditional forms of event promotion could be see valuable returns and additional press pick ups. In today’s digital age, public relations largely consists of having your event information published on relevant outlets. This is where investing in PR can come in handy. A PR team or agency will have both the knowledge and the network to ensure your event information and all articles surrounding your event are placed on the relevant outlets and publications to maximize event exposure.Instead of using an agency, you can also do the PR yourself by joining a PR network or using specific platform that are designed to support your PR strategy. Below is a list of PR networks you can explore. Note that each comes with different price tiers and analytics functions:
3. Paid Social Media - Another popular form of digital advertising is putting money behind social media campaigns. Paid social media could prove to be a great use of your event budget. All major social media platforms have an ad offering and thus the main task would be balancing your paid social investments in each platform to ensure a wide yet targeted reach.
As illustrated in the Guide to Facebook Event Promotion, the platform has one of the more robust advertising platforms out there—giving advertisers the ability to achieve massive reach with minimal effort. Ads can be served based on specific demographic information including age and geographical location. They can also be served to those who have visited your event website, which is a form of retargeting.
Ads can also be served on a “connections” basis which means the ads will be seen by those whose friends have already registered for your event. This is just a brief summary of what Facebook ads are capable of. For more tips on this form of event promotion and overall best practices, you can take a look at what the social media experts had to say on the topic.
3. Direct Mail - Another great channel to invest in for your event marketing are direct mail campaigns. Direct mail can enrich your demand generation and event strategy and potentially offer better conversions and responses in comparison to email campaigns. However, depending on the size and complexity of your direct mail campaigns, pricing can be more expensive than your digital channels. A successful direct mail campaign requires alignment between marketing and sales, clear goals, and a clear call to action for your target audience.
When it comes to your promotional strategy, there are certainly other costs around marketing personnel and various event tools. Adding additional allowance to your promotional budget will help you absorb additional costs should they come up during your path to launch an event.
Putting together the key elements of an event budget, below you can find a simple event budgeting template that provides an overview of the main expenses.
|Category||Description||Contact||Estimated Cost||Actual Cost|
|Venue||5 day email@example.com||$50,000||$45,000|
|Event Staffing||12 member team - all expenses firstname.lastname@example.org||$6,000||$5,400|
|Speakers||1 speaking email@example.com||$10,000||$12,000|
|Paid Search||Google AdWordsfirstname.lastname@example.org||$6,000||$5,000|
|PR||3rd Party Agency||agent@PRagency.com||$5,000||$4,000|
Of course you can add more columns as you see fit. The above template can be organized into a spreadsheet either through Google Sheets or Excel. Wherever you choose to store your budget plan, make sure that this data is made available to only those who need this information as you’ll want to keep finances as confidential as possible.
Now that we’ve discussed the basics of event budgeting and the standard costs that go into the budget plan, it's important to explain the relationship between event budget and event ROI. The main reason for an event budget is not only to keep tabs on your spending but also to understand the bigger picture. Organizing a comprehensive event budget is a crucial step in properly calculating your return on investment.
By definition, everything that is spent within your event budget is an investment. You are hoping that these expenditures will lead to favorable business outcomes such as greater pipeline value, increased sales opportunities, or, more simply, a profit from event ticket sales. Similar to how we discussed the importance of articulating your event goals, establishing event ROI is a related process. Outlining the event ROI is simply the act of making your goals more measurable.
For more in-depth information on event ROI, read through the Event ROI and Marketing Attribution Guide. Combining this guide on event budgeting with the event ROI guide will help paint the bigger picture that encapsulates event success.
Key Takeaways for Mastering Your Event Budget
A detailed, organized, and comprehensive event budget will help you allocate your funds intelligently as well as provide the necessary data to calculate accurate event ROI.
- Set specific event goals. Your goals will dictate the scope of your event and its budget. Will you be hosting an intimate dinner for VIPs or a large-scale user conference? Each have unique needs.
- Do your research. Look at historical data, consult with your peers and colleagues, speak to different vendors. This will help you accurately gauge your event budget and will make you a more informed buyer.
- Map it all out. Your event budget will need to cover venue procurement, promotional campaigns, food, staff, tables, chairs, event technology, lighting, swag...the list goes on. Make a detailed map of your needs to help you keep it all in check.
- Hedge your bets. Catastrophes will happen. Costs will suddenly appear. Have a back-up plan and a back-up reserve of funds planned for just these situations.
As you put together your own event budget, we hope this guide will help you get a bit closer to your definition of event success in 2020 and beyond.