A tried-and-true bromide is that you have to spend money to make money. Businesses large and small understand that cash re-investments fuel future growth. With the advent of the internet and social media, marketing budgets have had to increase to allow businesses to participate on the most significant platforms in order to connect with potential customers. But savvy businesses also understand that they must nurture relationships with current and future customers. Adding strategic events to your marketing budget is a must. In other words, create semi-regular opportunities to meet and socialize with potential and current customers during the year to ensure that relationships are created and strengthened.
Companies report that, on average, about 14% of their marketing budgets are set aside for events. A not insignificant sum so you want to make sure you get your money’s worth. As you think about this year’s strategic marketing start your planning with A Look Back before you take A Look Forward.
A LOOK BACK
Gather those involved in planning the current year’s events and do a postmortem. Here’s a checklist to jump-start your discussion.
- How many events did you sponsor?
- What types of events?
- How much money did each event cost? (It’s probably best to break out your costs – venue, food, decorations, entertainment, promo items, etc.)
- What was the attendance for each event? (Evaluate your invited guests vs actual attendance.)
- Would a different type of event garner better attendance?
- What feedback did attendees have following the event?
Now is the moment to decide if you want to stay with your overall strategy for strategic marketing events or adjust the number and kinds of events for the coming year.
A LOOK FORWARD
Assuming you want to make some changes to how you implemented last year’s strategic marketing, here are some key ideas to consider as you plan the exact dollar amount you will need to budget.
For any event, you plan to be clear about what your goal is for such an event. In other words, is your primary priority appreciation, networking, trade show, product launch, team building, or incentive? Each occasion will be structured differently and demand different elements and spending. Further, you will likely have an overlap in your attendance list. Attendees will tire of attending your events if the experience is always the same. Mixing up the kind of experience you plan will ensure that you maximize attendance.
Venue and Food
You are now clear about your purpose for each of the affairs you have scheduled for the year. The biggest recurring expense will be the venue (including table, chairs, dishes, linen rentals) and food and beverage. In fact, there are some estimates that 36% of an event budget is for the venue expenses ALONE. There are many options for designing an effective occasion while saving on venue and food expenses. A professional strategic marketing event planner, such as Nine88 Events, can work with you to maximize your budgeted dollars.
From DJs to Comedians to Musicians to Activities (such as casino games or even mobile ax throwing), bringing entertainment to your occasion is an additional consideration and expense. Not all gatherings will require this line item, so again, be clear in your purpose for your event and you will know whether this is a necessary expense.
Give Aways, Gift Bags, and Promotional Items
As with entertainment, this category may not be required for all events, but for those occasions that do require “freebies,” remember to include a budgeted line item. Look for feedback from previous attendees as to the effectiveness of gifting these items. Giving attendees logoed items will make them aware of your brand and business; however, often people lose interest in the most common items (coffee mugs, tumblers, key chains, bottle openers, to name a few) and leave them behind. It is worth seriously considering whether money spent on items realizes a payoff.
Creating specific out-of-office occasions for your clients and employees, however, DOES pay off. People tend to remember and refer to those businesses that they feel they have a personal connection to. Employees experience greater work satisfaction if they feel they are valued by their employer. If you are feeling overwhelmed at the idea of planning your strategic marketing events budget, contact Nine88 Events today. We are experienced in all aspects of strategic marketing and can work with you to create a calendar of events for the upcoming year.