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“When planning a live promotional event, things can add up quickly. It’s easy to forget about the small stuff in favor of the far more exciting decisions, and overlook the cost of upgrade after upgrade,” – InTheEvent.com

The live promotional event is a modern marketing tool designed to attract media attention and promote consumer products. These events typically include some degree of choreographed spectacle, celebrity endorsements, loud music, advance publicity, and scores of attendees. Modern marketing machines can promote such events weeks in advance through websites, social media handles, blogs, email, flyers, posters, word-of-mouth publicity, and online video platforms. Event organizers and marketing managers need to plan every minute to extract the maximum publicity out of the event. However, budgets for these events must be planned. Corporate sponsors, individual donations, coupon sales, and other fund raising activities must be expertly coordinated for a successful event. We will examine some of the aspects of setting a budget in the paragraphs below.

Site rental costs for a live promotional event should be the starting point for a budgeting exercise. Organizers should survey the list of available sites and match the rental costs with the set budget. Typically, this item of expenditure tops the list in terms of payment because venue operators demand money in advance of the event. Event organizers that work on frequent event promotions can negotiate to gain lower rental fees, but this remains the exception not the norm. We note the site rentals can include costs of hiring space for the main event, housekeeping activities, baggage handling expenses, etc. The success of the modern live promotional event depends heavily on a prominent venue; therefore, budgets should be expressly geared to factor in site rental costs, first and foremost.

Entertainment and equipment fees are an important constituent for a live promotional event. We note these events hinge on the impact of the spectacle and the entertainment quotient. Therefore, event organizers should create adequate budget components, which enable them to service the expenses for entertainment and equipment. The expenses may include rental fees for the audio-video equipment, payments for a small live music band, the movement of heavy merchandise on and off the stage, etc. Further, certain event promoters may hire the services of disc jockeys in a bid to ‘pump’ the music and boost attendee participation. Speakers at a promotional event may have to be paid an honorarium; this cost should be worked into this portion of the event’s budget. Event organizers can also retain a small emergency fund to take care of unforeseen contingencies.

Food and beverages are staple for the modern live promotional event. Event organizers must provision adequately because this component of a budget can be volatile and subject to change without prior notice. They can choose to invite catering tenders from professional caterers or may choose a trusted agency to cater the event. In any case, the choice must be careful because sub-standard catering can literally create a bad taste for event attendees and become a ‘buzz-kill’. In addition, star speakers attending a live promotional event make it even more important to reduce the chances of poor catering. Further, the age of social media can deal a truly devastating blow to a product in case of any flaws in event catering.

Décor is important in ensuring the success of a live promotional event. This aspect of an event sets the tone and can create additional marketing ‘buzz’. Floral arrangements, centerpieces, tents, walkways, designer set pieces, etc. can create awe in attendees, helping the promotional event to gain an edge. We note these arrangements can be expensive, but planning and a clear-headed approach can help contain costs. That said, we note that different products may require a different approach to budgeting for décor. For instance, a live promotional event for a motorcycle may hinge on heavy metal riffs, shiny bikes, and riders clad in leather jackets. The scope for décor is minimal in this instance. On the other hand, an event marking the launch of a new FM radio channel or a line of designer clothing can require heavy decorative and set pieces. Consequently, budgets for these events may vary widely.

Activities planned at a live promotional event can incur significant expenditure. We note some outdoor events can include short golf tournaments, spa sessions, tennis matches, biking events, etc. These sports can consume monetary resources because they involve equipment, players, golf caddies, bikes, race tracks, spa workers, professional attendance fees, etc. These activities remain important because they serve to ‘amp up’ the event’s quotient during publicity drives. In addition, these activities can attract media attention thereby offering additional publicity to a new product or service. In light of the above, event organizers should create activity budgets carefully, making sure to anticipate all possible scenarios that may unfold during an event.

Printing charges and gift items for attendees should find a prominent place in every budget. Invitations, name badges, event itineraries, signage, program booklets, and banners are some of the costs that accrue to printing charges. These small objects are important for a live promotional event because they boost audience recall long after the event has closed. Similarly, token gift items for speakers and attendees are important. The charges for printing and organizing these minor items can be significant, but planning will likely help contain costs within the limits of an approved budget.

Sponsor donations represent the life blood of budgeting for a live promotional event. Organizers must work to raise the maximum possible in terms of resources pulled from corporate sponsors. Veteran organizers can network with sponsors with a view to field larger budgets. Key members of an organizer group can be entrusted with the duty to grow budgets by soliciting donations from various sources. In return, sponsors can gain visibility at the event venue and win enhanced mind share among customers. That said, sponsors may receive special guest invitations to grace the podium or the moment of inauguration of a promotional event. These gestures help to boost sponsor interest in a marketing event and drives curiosity.

A contingency fund is a critical aspect of arranging a successful budget for a live promotional event. Modern marketing events are complex, dynamic events that can spring the occasional surprise on event organizers. Some market experts suggest the ideal contingency fund should represent 20% of the total budget. We may equate this fund with a ‘cushion’ that allows organizers to bear the brunt of unforeseen expenses. A contingency fund also enables organizers to allocate additional funds to popular activities at an event. This dynamism in expense management is critical in ensuring the success of a live promotional event.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined some of the aspects of budgeting for a live promotional event. Professional organizers vouch for the importance of operating a fixed budget, which has been classified under various heads. Wise and judicious expenditure should be the hallmark of such an event. Members of the budget committee should agree on issues related to expenditure, payments to various vendors, miscellaneous and actual expenses, and income from sponsorships, various items of expenditure, and matters of running expenses, etc. Individuals with appropriate experience can staff the budget committee and provide expert stewardship.

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