You want to create an event that is meaningful, gorgeous and a stellar experience for the intended audience, your (current and future) clients. Are you just starting out? A non-profit org? Don’t have a ton of cash-ola? Even if you are rolling in it, anyone that starts planning an event should start with the same step one: Create a budget.
The very act of creating the budget will allow you to foresee a predictable future and negotiate a jam before you actually get into the middle of one. A budget will show you if your intended event can break-even, how much you need to charge attendees, or how much you need before you approach a financial partner.
Location can have big impact on your budget. Maybe the venue selection is a no-brainer if you can host the event on site, but due to the size and scope of the event you may need to consider the costs of an outside venue.
Can you play with time? You may want to create a day-long event for the media moguls of your community, but maybe you’ll have better attendance (read: success) with a tight agenda that fits within 2.5 hours. Hosting an event where you serve breakfast is a less expensive than dinner or cocktails. Yes, that choice affects your desired experience but it may be just the answer to bring it in on budget.
Programing can include costs of the day: printing, signs, the cost of swag you’ll raid from the company store, gifts to talent (in lieu of cash), the use of in-house IT to run the AV. Consider the costs of event insurance for peace of mind.
Marketing can be done on a shoestring with planning and staff time or it may involve a media sponsor that provides thousands of dollars’ worth of weekly ads and pullouts. In either instance, develop a marketing plan and include the hard and soft costs to implement.
Once you have probable costs outlined, go back and tweak, maneuver and manipulate - it’s not about being perfect but about negotiating the costs to best meet the need of your intended audience and goals. For your first time producing an event, you may need to play with income streams or expenses to reach net zero. You may be surprised that you can provide a great experience for your intended audience which can balance against the marketing exposure or you may find you need a financial partner or two to pull off a spectacular event. Happy budgeting!
Rachel, Reach Partners
Your partners in leadership.