3 Creative Ways to Monetize Your Next Business Event

Go from breaking even to breaking the bank.

learn more about Jenn Murray

By Jenn Murray

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In-person events do amazing things for our online businesses. They cement our expert status, strengthen our relationships with clients and allow us to share our expertise (and impact the world) beyond the limits of our laptops.

Events also need to be profitable. We are, after all, building our businesses. But when we think about the costs — venue, food, swag bags — profit can seem very elusive. It's not uncommon for entrepreneurs to simply hope that they "break even."

Nothing can be further from the truth. You can host a profitable event — whether it's a retreat, mastermind, conference or speaking event. It just takes a little creativity and strategic planning.

Here are three ways to help increase your event revenue:

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

1. Offer a natural upsell

When you're immersed in event logistics, it's easy to focus on ticket sales as your only source of revenue. But you can also upsell your attendees by offering one of your services or online courses. If your event offers teaching or insights (as most do), then offering ongoing support is the next natural step.

In fact, you should craft your event so that it leads to that specific offer at the end — making it feel completely natural given what your attendees have experienced. Consider including a fast-action bonus or other incentive to motivate them to buy before the event ends.

You can also implement an e-mail sequence post-event for anyone left on the fence. If they still don't bite, feel free to offer a downsell. They might be ready for more — just not at the higher price point.

Related: 5 Simple Upsells and Downsells That Drive Higher Profits

2. Offer a VIP ticket option

On one hand, this may seem like common sense (especially if you've attended your fair share of events). If you're just starting to host your own events, though, you may think you aren't able to offer a VIP option. You might believe your event is too small. Or perhaps you think that only well-known, six- or seven-figure entrepreneurs who can afford to offer champagne and a swag bag that would make Oprah jealous are able to offer VIP-level tickets. Not so.

Remember, "VIP" stands for "very important person," not "I'm-expecting-to-win-a-car-at-your-event person." The big idea is merely to offer more value for more money — thereby making the VIP feel special — and that value can take many forms.

Here are a few examples of what you can offer:

  • Priority seating at the venue (for larger events)

  • First selection of accommodations/rooms

  • A one-on-one private coaching session. (Best for smaller events. Note: This can also help with your upsell, as it gives people a taste of what you do and the results you bring!)

  • Special offers for your services or courses

  • A special or fun outing (dinner, tour, a day at the beach, etc.)

  • An extra day at the event with exclusive content

  • Special access to you, your guest speakers or your cohosts (such as a private lunch or an extra work session)

  • Extra gifts in their swag bag. (These don't need to be expensive — just special, personal or thoughtful.)

There are a multitude of ways to provide a VIP experience without breaking the bank. All it takes is a little ingenuity!

Related: Customer Service: Tips to Make Your Buyers Feel VIP

3. Offer post-event add-ons

One of the biggest challenges to hosting an event is, well, that it ends! Everyone is on an amazing emotional and motivational high, caught up in a strong tidal wave of momentum — only to have it dissipate once the event is over and everyone heads back home.

You can, however, help keep some of that momentum going and bring in additional revenue at the same time. How? By offering ways for your attendees to continue their experience post-event.

For example, you can offer:

  • An audio or video series. (Consider creating the first one specifically for the plane or car ride home. Talk about a personal touch!)

  • PDF/eBook/guide/worksheet to help them implement something they've learned at the event.

  • Access to something you have behind a paywall, such as a membership site, online mini-course, etc.

You don't need to create something new; simply take stock of what content or resources you have on hand. You can sell a few things individually or in a bundle. You can even connect them with a funnel or e-mail sequence to keep things rolling. Do whatever works best for you. Just make sure the offering won't entice people away from your upsell.

Profit and revenue are legitimate concerns when it comes to planning events. But as you can see, there are creatively strategic ways to approach both. Ways that not only increase your revenue total but also offer additional value, further cement your expert status, and make your attendees feel special — all at the same time!

Jenn Murray

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Retreat Planner

Jenn Murray is a retreat planner who specializes in retreats that are highly creative, profitable and focused on true relationship building. Murray has appeared on the top-rated SweetLife Entrepreneur podcast and contributed to YOUpreneur. She also hosts the Events for Entrepreneurs podcast.

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