You should never lose money putting on an event.
Events cost money, plain and simple. If you’re planning an event you should always be thinking about covering your costs. Breaking even is fine, but your event can be even better when you can drive revenue.No two events will ever be the same, so it’s important to think about how to drive revenue at your event for the specific event, rather than creating a plan for multiple events.
“How you drive revenue for one type of event can be completely different than for another,” says Liz Goshert, the marketing, events, and promotions director for Federated Media. “There’s not one perfect recipe to have the perfect event.”
Understanding what will draw people to your event is key to helping you dial in on revenue streams at your event.
“You’ve got to figure out why people are coming to your event as opposed to every other thing that’s going on,” Goshert says. “As much as you try to capture the magic of live entertainment on a virtual-event stream, it’s different in person. You can’t connect with an artist on a live stream in the same way as you do in a concert. It’s just a different feeling.”
As you think about what sets your event apart, here are some ways to drive revenue at your event and make it profitable and fun!
Before your event even happens, you need to decide if it will be ticketed or non-ticketed.
A ticketed event is a great way to drive revenue before your event even begins, which is a safe way to ensure that you’re covering your costs. As a bonus, running a ticketed event is a helpful way to track attendance and get metrics for your event.
“You don’t have to make all your money on ticket revenue. I look at it as the way to cover your hard costs, then everything else is gravy,” Goshert says. “That helps you be safe for the day of the event so you at least know everything is covered and you’re not going to lose any money.”
Offering ticket scaling (general admission, early bird, VIP, etc.) with different bonuses and experiences can help you boost your upfront revenue without increasing your costs.
You can also offer à la carte experiences like a meet-and-greet, meals, and front-row seats, which people can upgrade to. It’s a good way to test the waters and see what people are responding to.
“VIP tickets are a way to give a limited number of people a higher-end ticket with a few extra bonuses,” Goshert says. “That extra experience for them can net you more revenue with just a little more work on your end.”
Non-ticketed events can help drive people to your event because it’s free to attend, and doesn’t require you to track and sell tickets. But that comes with its own drawbacks.
“Because you have no tickets, chances are you’re going to have a ton of people and you can’t guess how many will show up,” Goshert says. “Then you’ll have to take care of all of those people without any revenue to cover it.”
Teamwork makes the dream work.
If you have partnerships with other businesses, vendors, or sponsors, consider working with them to make your event even better. Your partners can help add things like entertainment or activities to your event, which can help increase attendance and add to revenue.
Look for other companies you may have not already worked with to start building a partnership through your event.
“Think about how you can build long-term partnerships with vendors and sponsors,” Goshert says. “Don’t just think of your event as a one-and-done thing.”
EXAMINE YOUR COSTS
If you’re looking to increase the amount of money that you’re taking home from your event, you may need to look no further than your expenses.
Take the time to think about where you’re spending money on your event and determine the actual ROI that will come from it. Examine whether or not everything you’re including in your event is actually adding to the experience. If it’s not, consider cutting it out.
“It’s hard, when you create events, to not think they’re perfect,” Goshert says. “But every once in a while you have to go back to your event and figure out why you started doing it. Ask yourself if your planned activities are still doing what they were intended for, and if they make sense in this environment.”
Focus on the overall goal of your event to determine if something is adding or subtracting for your event. For example, when we have events with our stations, we know we want to focus more on interactions with listeners. Each year, we evaluate if parts of our events accomplished that goal and we cut them if they don’t.
ADVERTISE AT YOUR EVENT AND RUN A CONTEST
Don’t forget to do a little self-promotion at your event!
Marketing your business at your event should be a no-brainer. Putting up or handing out flyers can be expensive, and there’s no guarantee that people will keep them. A better option is to have a message that everyone can see at the event. Monster Message’s giant video board is a great way to accomplish this.
“Monster Message is unique because it draws your eyes to it no matter what,” Goshert says. “No matter what’s on the screen, people will look because it’s up in the air and it’s big.”
You can also use Monster Message to advertise your partners during the event as well.
Monster Message can be effective at drawing the attention of attendees for things like contesting during your event too. You could have a digital entry form set up for the contest and advertise a text keyword for attendees to use to enter the contest.
Contests will help you gather information from the people participating in your event that can help you market to them in the future, which can turn into revenue.
Make sure that you have a worthwhile prize to get people to consider participating. People will be busy during your event and it can be difficult to get them to focus. That’s why promoting your contest ahead of time is helpful to get participation.
“For your contest to be successful, you need to make sure that people are signing up for and being a part of it,” Goshert says. “It’s hard to tell everyone about your contest, so you need to put it in as many places as you can.”
Promoting your contest ahead of time by running radio ads can help draw awareness for your event and your contest and potentially draw attendance.
Contests are effective because they can be used to grow your email and text clubs and can lead to future sales. Placing that information on Monster Message guarantees that people attending your event are going to see it.
Raffles are always a useful way to drive some extra revenue at your event, and they don’t have to break the bank.
Silent auctions are a great option for high-end items like big trips or baskets of wine. If your event is catered more toward an audience that is likely to spend money on big-ticket items, then silent auctions are a good choice. But they’re not the right fit for every event.
A raffle is a better choice if you’ve got items to give away that are less expensive yet more accessible to the general public.
“Whenever we’ve done raffles for something like a gift card — something that can be used by anyone — that’s when raffle revenue goes through the roof,” Goshert says. “Because people can pick what they win and they don’t have to be a millionaire to win it.”
If you’re thinking of including a raffle make sure to include items that are more inclusive to a wide range of people — you don’t want to keep anyone from participating. Don’t markup the cost of tickets too high, because you don’t want to price yourself out of making revenue.
Another option is to run a 50/50 raffle if you aren’t able to get items donated to run a raffle. It’s a simple option that can drive a lot of revenue to your organization, especially if the raffle is geared toward supporting a charitable organization.
As you can see, there are many ways you can drive revenue at your event to help cover your costs and perhaps even make a profit. Consider these options while you’re planning your next event.