Budget items often overlooked

Whether you’re planning a fundraiser, a networking event, a conference, or a grand opening, budgeting is a big part of the planning process. No matter what your budget is, you should have a budget outline for initial planning, a working budget where you update income and expenses throughout the planning, and then a budget with actual numbers, so you know where you landed.

Here are some expenses that are often missed:

  • Catering Costs: I’m not suggesting that you would forget the food expense, but did you account for tax and gratuity? Did you account for any service charges for servers or setup? 
  • Printing: Many invitations are now sent out electronically for events, but what about the signage for on-site or the program booklets, if you’re not using a digital app?
  • Graphic Design: My planning packages often include graphic design, but if you’re doing an event yourself, be sure to budget for design so that you can present professional-looking marketing for your event.
  • Credit Card Fees. While many of your sponsors may prefer to pay with check, chances are you are still going to have quite a few attendees who would like to register with credit card. If you’re not having registrants pay their own fees, make sure you budget for these costs. 
  • Volunteer Hospitality: Make sure you count your volunteers in the final count for food and swag items at the event. If you have a planning committee, it’s nice to have a wrap-up meeting to show your appreciation and gather feedback. Budget for food for this meeting.

Need someone to help you manage your budget and all of your event details? I’d love to help, and am now booking events for this winter.

More Profitable Events

How do I make my next event more profitable?

You’ll have to come to tomorrow’s Lunchbox Session to learn the majority of this content, but here are a few quick tips to make your next event more profitable.   

  1. Consider your goals. Are you trying to make more money from an event itself, or are you using your event as a marketing tool or an entry to a sales funnel? Events can be helpful for both of these things, but be sure that you have your goals clearly defined before you move forward in planning.
  2. Fix your pricing. Tiered pricing can be very effective, but don’t just do early registration discounts because that’s what you see everyone else doing. For example, one trend in events right now is a VIP ticket option with some additional benefits. Your ticket price reflects the commitment level, so with a free event there’s a good chance you’ll have no-shows. Think through your pricing and registration strategy early and often in the planning process.
  3. Hire some help. Of course I’m going to say this! It may seem counterintuitive to spend money in order to increase profits, but oftentimes by hiring someone it can cost you less. What is your time worth, and do you have extra? A professional can help you to become more efficient with your budget.

Event Swag

‘Tis the season for community days, festivals and fairs!  What better time to consider event swag? 

SWAG = “stuff we all get”

Event swag can be a great sponsor benefit.  It can be a great way to build your business’ brand and good will with the community.  If someone gives you something that you like and you see their name often, don’t you think they’ll be more likely to do business with you?  It’s a hard thing to measure, and sometimes it is difficult to think of just the right item.

Keep the event’s purpose and theme in mind.  For example, some of the Moraine State Park Regatta’s sponsors have taken advantage of the opportunity to provide branded swag to our attendees, but they have kept it on theme.  One is giving out wildflower seeds, one is giving out chapstick, and one is giving out notebooks and pens at the education tent.  

Consider something useful.  For example, although everyone has multiple of them, I think you can never have too many reusable grocery bags.  They are useful at conferences, trade shows, and vendor shows, and they are useful after the fact for just everyday use. 

Try to get creative.  How many branded coffee mugs do you have, and how many do you actually use?  Consider something slightly different, like a branded reusable straw, a water bottle that can be condensed when empty, or a branded cookie to snack on later. 

What’s your favorite event swag item?  What kinds of things do you love to get, and which things go right to the trash?

Employee Engagement through Events

Did you know that an estimated 70% of employees are disengaged, costing your business thousands of dollars a year?*

Events can be a fantastic way to engage with employees.  Whether that event is planned by the company, the employees, or a community organization, there are many ways to further engage employees and it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Here are some ideas for employee engagement events:

  • Volunteer service day
  • Workplace Jeopardy
  • Axe throwing outing
  • Mini golf or soccer golf tournament
  • Cocktail making class
  • Family picnic

A few considerations:

  • Ask employees for ideas, or give them an opportunity to play a leadership role in the planning efforts.
  • Be sure to clearly communicate attendance expectations as well as details like end time, dress code, transportation, etc.
  • Do your best to find an activity in which all of your employees can participate, regardless of age or physical fitness level.

*Reference: causecast.com

“You’re Invited”

Oftentimes I hear from people who are struggling to get people to attend their events. My number one piece of advice to get people to come to something is to invite them. I realize this isn’t a new idea, but I find that it is often overlooked or misunderstood.   

Some things about invitations…

  1. Facebook can be a good tool. But sending a Facebook invitation isn’t the only way to invite someone. If you’re like me, you get a multitude of Facebook notifications, which makes it easy to miss an event invitation. Don’t rely solely on Facebook to invite people to an event.
  2. Personal is best. An invitation is a good excuse to reach out to an old friend or a contact that you haven’t talked to in awhile. It always feels good to be invited, even if you can’t attend. Don’t you enjoy being invited to things? It’s nice when someone reaches out personally. As simple as it sounds, personal invitations are often overlooked in light of other invitation formats yet tend to be extremely effective.
  3. Print and email are not dead. Believe it or not, some people do not use social media. Print and email can both be good tools for invitations. If you want to stand out, send something in the mail. Don’t assume that people don’t read their emails either. Lately, the best success that my clients have had with registrations has been through email invitations.