Not every business has the budget to fund a large, extravagant event. Small businesses and startups can often benefit greatly from events and exhibitions, but the cost of dipping your toe in the water can sometimes seem too steep to pay.
Smaller-sized businesses can host an event with as big of a benefit as some of the more well-known companies receive from theirs, they just have to know how.
Why are you throwing the event?
The first questions you should ask yourself may end up saving you thousands of dollars in the long run. Why are you planning your event? What are you hoping to get out of it? Whatever you decide here will ultimately factor into every other decision you make while planning it, according to Small Biz Trends.
By figuring out what you're looking to gain from the event, you can narrow down what products or services you'll have to buy or offer. For example, do you want to create general awareness for your brand, or simply turn a dime? If you're looking for a profit, you'll try to stretch your dollar more. If you want brand awareness, you may focus more on marketing than you do the intricacies of the event.
Decide early on why you're throwing the event so you can cut the clutter from your budget and strictly pay for what you need.
Spend your money wisely
Sponsorships are hard to come by, but you'll need to forge some connections to make this work. Small Biz Trends suggests looking for "in-kind" sponsors, which donate goods and services rather than cash. This is where you'll find the valuable sponsorships.
Don't just settle on the first venue hall you see – spend time going from place to place and asking for quotes. Much like buying a car, you may be able to get a better deal by letting one venue owner know what the other is asking for payment. Try and negotiate the lowest price possible, though make sure it doesn't backfire and you're left without a space.
"Consider having an "early bird" registration special to boost attendance."
Marketing can be difficult to do with little funds to support it. Promotional posters, news, radio and television advertisements all cost money. Consider using your sponsors and other partners as a way to gain some emails and leads. Then send out newsletters, and revert to social media to drive your hashtag into the spotlight of your target audience. Newsletters are a low-cost way of maintaining contact with industry professionals, and can help generate leads for future use.
Finally, gaining registration numbers can be difficult early on – and this may be where some of your budget is coming from. EventBrite suggests using an early-bird special to get names written down for attendance. That way you can have a better idea of how many people you're planning for, and you'll also have some cash to use.
Don't be afraid to use technology to your advantage. Lights, music and a lively atmosphere can make your event seem much larger and more expensive to put on than it actually is. Planning an event with a small budget isn't an easy task, but it can certainly be done.