This article is the third installment in the How to Start A Successful Event series.
One of the most widely known ways to generate income from an event is to retain sponsorships. Sponsors typically love events because they are mainly populated with a specific demographic of people to whom they would like to target with their advertising dollars. While you may think you need to have thousands upon thousands of people at your events to be able to attract a sponsor, that is simply not true. Getting sponsors depends largely on leveraging the unique strengths of the event which is not always size.
For example, when I ran an outdoor event series, I partnered with a Meetup.com group organizer. Unbenounced to me at the time many potential sponsors scour that site for events to sponsor. This particular organizer was being approached by companies like REI who sell outdoor gear to the same target demographic as the group was comprised of.
Additionally, when I ran that outdoor event series, I would often make deals with local bars and restaurants to bring people there after the event. Most bars and restaurants do well during typical eating or drinking hours, but are empty for a large percent of the day. During slow times like these bringing as few as 10-20 people through their doors after your event presents them with a very attractive offer and they may be willing to sponsor you in some way to compensate you for doing just that.
As your events get larger and more popular, you will be able to attract larger and more lucrative sponsorship deals. These deals in and of themselves can open up a whole new list of ways to generate additional revenue, but we will be exploring those more in depth in an up and coming article series aimed at identifying sponsors, approaching them and structuring different packages.
Another large revenue generator for many events is the concession booth, weather you're selling bottles of water to patrons attending a speaking engagement or pouring beer to avid sports fans concessions are a great way to supplement your in-event revenue. Just remember you can set up a concession stand to sell packaged snacks and non-alcoholic drinks without too much effort, but if you will be serving prepared food items and alcoholic beverages you will mostly likely be required to obtain special licenses. Be sure to check with your city or county governments as well as your venue management. They might already have required licenses or require you to contract out such services to an approved vendor. Bringing in such vendors leads me to my next section.
Sell Vendor Space
Similar to how sponsors wish to market to your targeted attendees vendors aim to sell to them on-site. Depending on your event type and expected attendance this can be a substantial portion of your events revenue. In fact, it’s such a powerful way to generate revenue many events such as food/beer festivals or trade show conventions rely solely on this practice for the events income. In cases such as these you usually sell individual space or booths inside your designated event area and the purchaser is required to obtain all required permits. A word to the wize; if you do plan to sell vendor space and have secured any sponsorships be sure they are aware prior to any contracts of your plan. In some cases a title sponsor will insist on being the only company in their industry at the event. It’s a good idea to cover all these points during the negotiation process with any potential sponsor.
Since tickets are required for admission the average attendee will hang onto their stub for the duration of the event and in some cases long after the event has ended. This is especially true with a souvenir style ticket. Using such a ticket presents an additional strategy of selling the graphic portion of your ticket to a company looking to extend their brand recognition. For example if you are printing tickets for a car show NAPA Auto Parts might see great value in putting their logo on the front of the tickets. Since souvenir tickets are designed to be saved and viewed again and again NAPA will benefit from many more impressions by both attendees and non attendees long after the event has ended.
In addition to brand recognition and all the other pertinent information that needs to be on your ticket a coupon or advertisement for a local business on the back side can also quickly turn the cost of ticket printing into an bonus revenue source. This ticket real estate can be very valuable to that restaurant across the street from where your event lets out or that vendor who wants to try and drive people to their booth. These are direct one-to-one advertisments and the right match will pay a premium for it.
Entry Bags and Coupon Tables
If you will be selling any additional products, would like to sell a “boost” package to your vendors, or want to increase revenue from local businesses entry bags and coupon tables are a great way to to accomplish this. In this scenario you can charge for distributing printed coupons, brochures and/or sample products in the form of a goodie bag or designated area. Because a lot of people tend to view these items as superfluous, and often throw them away it’s not as effective as the tickets, but it does still work and could bring in some additional revenue from business that are willing to pay a few extra dollars for distribution help.
Ask For Donations Or Allow People To Choose Their Own Price To Attend
If you use your event series as a way to generate leads to your business, you will most likely want to keep your events free in order to draw as big an audience as possible. More on this Freemium business model here.
Since you won’t be charging for the event, you must make sure that people understand that you are giving them great value at no cost to them and suggest that a donation will as they say “keep the good times rolling!” Just make sure you make it clear that it is not required and they can pay/donate what they are comfortable with including nothing. This is a very effective strategy to continually increase your events attendance, but also earn revenue from direct event attendance.
Get Leads For Any Business Or Product
Many people run their own events in order to generate leads for their products or services. This is a wildly successful strategy for authors looking to promote their book, speakers who wish to provide training courses and the like. There is even an approximate pseudo-formula for how to structure the talks of such events.
If the event is free, you want to convert the attendees into customers by discussing the problems or issues that the audience will want to be addressed, and maybe give tantalizing hints of the solution. And, of course, make it known that people can get much more if they buy some paid product or service, or attend a paid event to get the full solution.
On the other hand, if the audience paid to attend the event its ok to upsell them or promote another event, but you do need to give them the solutions you promised they would get from attending the current event.
Sell Maps, Guides Programs, Or Information Books, Or T-Shirts
Most people like to be immersed in the event they are attending. They like to get that extra knowledge about the show or sport an event t-shirt to let others know they were involved. When I ran a hiking group, many of my fellow hike group organizers sold maps or guides to the nature and wildlife of a particular park in which the hike was taking place.
Additionally, I would often come to the hikes in a t-shirt that I made which had the domain of my website printed in big letters. People who liked my events asked me about the t-shirts and offered to pay for it. That led me to start selling t-shirts and hats at my events. I loved it because people were paying me to essentially advertise for me because all the shirts had my website’s domain name written on them in big letters.
While certain events may choose to give such items away you definitely don’t want to give away the advertising opportunity they present you. When you print these programs or guidebooks make sure you leave some space in there for targeted advertisements. Remember you have a captive and targeted audience and thats a valuable to an advertiser.
Sell Courses Or Multi-Day Seminars
Just as we mentioned that you can use the events to generate leads for your product or service, many event organizers run small events in order to upsell bigger events such as conferences, weekend seminars or getaways.
Conferences, speciality courses, weekend seminars and getaways can easily cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per person. It isn’t always easy to sell such expensive event tickets, but regularly running smaller free events can help warm attendees up to making that bigger financial decisions.
One of the best implementations of this process that I have ever come across was a weekly culinary festival I frequented in my college years. Each week a handful of local restaurants were invited to exhibited. They usually provided small samples of their best items; there was wine and music. Overall it was a great experience, but the whole event was designed to funnel people into the back main tent where they could attend a $100 per person cooking class. A wonderfully fun class where a professional chef walked a group of eager students through the process of preparing their own individual gourmet meals. It was an exciting social and educational dinner experience. When it was over you wandered back out into the crowd laughing, smiling and most likely boasting rave reviews about the class to anyone who asked. They basically paraded their satisfied customers right in front of their potential ones. An incredibly strong marketing tactic all based around a free event!
Create Business Relationships And Establish Yourself As An Expert
Over time, your event series grows, and becomes prominent. And guess who is at the head of that prominent event series. It is you! This gives you a platform and helps you to be seen as an expert in your niche while helping you establish many business relationships. The perception of you being seen as an expert helps you network because suddenly everyone else in your niche looks up to you, and wants to establish a business relationship with you.
Additionally, once your event series matures, you can invite other experts to speak at your events, or participate in other ways. Having other experts at your events helps you be seen as even more of an expert in your niche because by networking with them you are seen next to them, and some of their perceived expertise rubs off on you.
All that helps to build your personal brand as an expert. Once that happens, you will be able to charge premium rates for any consulting or sub contracting work.
Sell Premium or VIP Treatment
Not everyone flies coach; some people insist on paying more for first class. Make sure you have a way to accommodate and profit from these people. Maybe its a free drink, maybe its a special section that they have exclusive access to, or maybe its just a way to cut to the front of the line. Whatever it is make sure you have a way to quickly identify and accommodate these attendees because they are the ones with extra money in their pockets.
Events Help Your SEO and Social Media Marketing
In addition to the direct ways your event series may help you generate revenue, there are also some indirect ways that events can help you make money. As your event becomes more prominent and successful there will be an increase in people searching for your event, an increase in people promoting links to your site, increased social conversations and sharing of your event and your various related web pages. Those kinds of things give you an SEO boost and help your pages rank better in Google searches. Needless to say that if you rank well in Google searches, you will get more website visitors and some of those visitors will purchase additional products and services from you.
Collect Attendee Emails And Social Accounts To Extend LTV
Whatever your event is, and the monetization strategies you are pursuing, one thing you always want to do is extend the relationship that your business has with your event attendees.
Try to collect people’s email addresses and social account information so that you can reach out to them whenever you have future events. For most events, if a person attended once, unless they had a bad experience, they are likely to attend again. Having their contact information enables you to inform them of your future events, products, and services.