After a temporary speed bump from COVID, in-person events are a top interest for companies, organizations, and professional event planners.
Today’s attendees are eager to meet in person, and smart planners are looking for ways to maximize budgets to give guests more of what they want while still producing a strong return on investment Below are a few of VIBE’s favorite ways to make your event marketing dollars go further and produce better results.
Plan Your Event’s Purpose and Agenda First
When you know what your goal is, decision-making becomes much easier for every step in the planning process. A new product orientation for salespeople has different needs than events for regional networking, customer appreciation, leadership retreats, and other gatherings. Deciding the primary goal of your meeting eliminates guesswork and also wasted expense on unnecessary items.
The same applies to your agenda. If you want to stretch budgets further, consider evaluating how much downtime your attendees need or expect. Everyone’s time is precious, and three consecutive half-day agendas may not be as engaging or impactful as two more robust days (and there are savings on venue and lodging costs also).
Boost Engagement Before, During, and After Your Event
One of the reasons planners and attendees both prefer in-person events is that it’s easier to maintain interest in something happening right in front of you. But the truth is, engagement should ideally start before an attendee ever walks in the door.
Enhanced online registration portals can let guests preview event elements to get them excited and more likely to attend. Your registration process can also give you excellent insight into what your attendees like or dislike. Collecting this data is relatively inexpensive but can lead to multiple opportunities. Effectively using that information allows you to create additional touchpoints leading up to the event that strengthens connections between attendees and your brand or business.
During the event, early guest engagement creates more opportunities for personalized experiences. Customized swag bags, ice-breakers that connect people with common interests, and other tailored experiences do more than increase engagement and enjoyment at the moment; they also create memorable interactions that last long afterward.
A lack of follow-up is one of the most significant lost opportunities from any event. Collecting feedback or sharing intel and outcomes from your gathering is a cost-effective way of improving e-marketing response or increasing exposure, reach, recommendations, social media presence, and other business-building activities.
In-person events are often criticized for having negative environmental impacts. Thinking of smart alternatives has multiple benefits.
- Reusable decor that can be used across multiple events effectively reduces the cost across the entire event calendar.
- Digital handouts and materials for guests are less likely to be lost or left behind and are often more effective when easily downloaded to a phone or mobile device. A few well-placed QR codes could reduce printing costs by 80% or more and save time for collating paperwork.
- Depending on the size of your event, a buffet lunch may cost less and use fewer resources like boxes than individually packaged meals. The same can be said for self-serve drink stations and streamlining menus not to have as many options that may go unserved.
- Utilize your registration process to eliminate waste in gifts and giveaways. Give guests a chance to opt out or opt-in to a t-shirt, tote bag, or water bottle – as they may already have these items and not feel the need to collect another.
Reach Out to Sponsors and Partners
Rather than foot the entire bill for your event, why not split the cost with some strategic partners or sponsors? Often, these businesses are looking for cost-effective ways to increase their reach with potential customers – and providing a presence at your event may be just the opportunity that fits their marketing budgets.
Explore charitable partnerships with local organizations that may have a common interest with yours. For instance, a non-profit that helps provide clean drinking water in undeveloped countries may be an excellent partner for the launch of a new water-based cosmetic formula. You can also find for-profit businesses that want access to your guest list. For example, an interior design firm may be interested in partnering for a real-estate groundbreaking.
With marketing expected to generate quantifiable results, event planners must know that event marketing budgets are spent effectively. VIBE has decades of experience helping you make choices that matter to your guests and your bottom line.