10 Tips for Hosting a Wildly Successful Event on a Tame Budget

Gathering an audience to hear your message is the original social media marketing. Don't assume you can't afford it.

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By Cassie Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When you consider events, you might think "My business isn't big enough to hold an event large enough to make a difference. Where am I going to find the budget?"

That is a mistake. Events, when done right, are a successful technique for marketing, engagement and networking. Bigger isn't always better, even when you have the budget. What's most important is spending your event budget on what will make the strongest impact conveying your message to the audience you need.

Related: Make Live Events Part of Your Marketing

The need to track expenses under a microscope can inspire creativity that results in an event your attendees will remember for all the right reasons. At TCG Events, we re-invented a "ribbon cutting" at a biotech center where we had the ribbons fall from the ceiling on a grand scale with a kabuki drop. It incorporated an element of surprise the audience wasn't expecting.

Here are my top 10 do's and don'ts on how to spend your event budget to create maximum impact with minimum headaches.

1. Plan. Don't treat events like an afterthought. Plan ahead. Budget for them. Be strategic about objectives. The event should have a business-driving purpose beyond "it's nice to have a holiday party."

2. Drinks. Don't assume that a hosted bar, in which you pay a set amount per guest, is the best deal. In most cases, a consumption bar, in which you pay for what people actually drank, is a more cost effective option. On a hosted bar you are paying the same charge if a person drinks soft drinks all night or a string of Long Island Ice Teas.

3. Fees add up. Don't forget to include all the additional fees into the budget. The fees in hotels are endless - chef fees, bartender fees, service fees in addition to charges for power, loading docks, security, etc. A good event planner can provide you with insights into which fees are negotiable.

4. Snail mail. Instead of an email invitation, design an invitation to stand out and spend the money to mail it.

5. Tunes. It used to be that a live band was the prestigious thing to have but DJs are hot again. A great DJ is more fun than an average band at half the price. Design a cool stage set for the DJ so they can make a great visual as well as keep the energy high.

Related: 8 Event Marketing Tips From a Victoria's Secret

6. Pay to play. Avoid major fines after the event is over by making sure you have music licensing in place up front, whether DJ or live music.

7. Linen on the table. Do use linens to the floor. Linens that touch the ground are more appealing to the eye. It is also an inexpensive way to add color to an event.

8. No swag. How many mugs, beer glasses and t-shirts do we really need? Instead of handing out party favors and swag at your corporate event, add an experiential aspect where people can get involved.

9. Less talking, more watching. Don't have a guest speaker/talking head address the crowd from the front of the room. Instead, take those dollars and invest in create a compelling two-minute video featuring your employees and senior leaders. They'll appreciate it!

10. Brevity. Don't disregard the two-minute rule for videos. There are almost no exceptions to this. Videos should be less than three minutes.

There is a reason commercials are a minute or less. The most successful viral videos on YouTube are short. Shoot less b-roll and spend more time in the editing room. Make the most of this opportunity to brand your company!

Related: Using Experiential Marketing

Cassie Brown

President and Chief Experience Officer at TCG Events

With a hospitality industry background spanning two decades, Cassie Brown assumed the role of President and Chief Experience Officer of TCG Events in 2011after nine years with the company. TCG Events is a national events company, whose EventSmarterTM approach exceeds client expectations at every turn and ensures a superior guest experience that delivers lasting impact.

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