By Al Torres
Though expensive, conference and trade show sponsorships can bring home the bacon. According to the Event Marketing 2018: Benchmarks Report, 80% of marketers think events are crucial to their company’s success.
But given decreased marketing budgets and the ever-increasing pressure to show returns, marketers are eager to trim the fat and maximize their ROI.
With event marketing budgets often being the largest line item for B2B marketers, the need to stretch this budget is on the forefront of many marketers’ minds this year.
But how do companies spending millions of dollars on events save significant dough? We’ll explore four techniques event marketing teams can use to reduce costs and save on event sponsorships.
1. Never Buy Event Sponsorships at Sticker Price
Just like when you’re buying a car, you should never, ever agree to the sticker price.
Event organizers are businesses, and like all businesses, they’re looking to maximize their profits. That means they’ll price event sponsorship packages astronomically high with the understanding that negotiation can occur.
And if you’re not actively negotiating event sponsorships, you’re spending a ton of extra money on every single event.
Many times, event organizers will offer a plethora of information about the attendee demographic, and rates of satisfaction from previous years. Sometimes, they’ll even highlight the return on investment their sponsors were able to generate in years past. Gather this data along with any personal recommendations or insights you can receive from colleagues in other companies, and use it as great negotiating leverage.
2. Ask for Extra Tickets, Advertising Space, Etc. (Just Don’t Get Greedy)
Often times, getting more out of your event budget is simply a matter of asking. Many event organizers are prepared to negotiate and offer additional perks to land a hefty event sponsorship package, so you should be prepared with some possibilities.
Have ten team members attending but your package only comes with eight tickets? Many times, the event organizer will throw in a few extra tickets to sweeten the deal.
Book your sponsorship early? Check back in with your event rep six weeks or so before the event and ask if they have any additional available sponsorship opportunities. Many times, they’re looking to fill additional sponsorship space like charging stations and branded networking lounges.
You’ll never know what’s available for what price if you don’t ask.
3. Source Your Swag Directly
Many event organizers go through agencies and third-party vendors to order everything from event banners to swag, but this, of course, comes with a pretty price tag for the convenience.
Look at having an agency team design your booth while you work directly with vendors to purchase the necessary supplies (flooring, banners, tablecloths, etc), which will help reduces costs and maximize your event marketing budget.
One way to dramatically reduce costs of event swag is ordering it direct from suppliers. Personally, I’ve used Alibaba to order high-quality event swag at nearly a quarter of the price third-party retailers were asking. Going direct is definitely more time-consuming and requires a longer shipping period, but it can significantly reduce the cost of event sponsorships for teams of all sizes.
4. Spend Money on Engagement, Not Just Another Event Booth
The average event sponsorship package costs $12,000, and that doesn’t include travel, hotels, and other expenses we all know come along with sponsoring events.
So, imagine investing what you would spend on a booth into an experience?
Many companies are shifting from purchasing the most lavish booth space possible to investing their event marketing into off-site events under the umbrella of large conferences like CES, Dreamforce, and SXSW.
Understanding your team’s objectives at the event is the first step in understanding if your team really needs a booth. If you’re a known brand and want to connect with current customers, look at hosting a large networking event with partners and marketing it to your current clients (and your partners’ current clients to generate new leads).
Are you a smaller, lesser known company looking to land a few big clients? Either partner with someone hosting an event or host an intimate dinner with just those folks and maybe a current client or two.
On a shoestring budget (or just at Cannes)? Schedule a ton of relevant meetings before the event, camp out in a hotel lobby, sip rosé all day, and have some of the most productive meetings out there.
Maximizing Event Marketing Budgets
In the end, there’s really only two ways to increase return on event: decrease spend or increase revenue. As event marketing continues to explode in popularity, understanding the different ways to maximize your event marketing budget efficiently by reducing costs will help increase your return on events.
If you’re looking to say hello to the other side, increasing event revenue starts with scheduling smarter meetings at events.