Everybody knows that one of the best ways to establish yourself in your field is to produce your own events. What not everybody knows is that conferences and conventions are incredibly expensive to produce, and the profit margin on them is relatively small. Thankfully, there are many methods you can use to increase that margin. Here are a few of our favorites:
Expand Your Advertising Space
You already know that you will need event sponsors if you are going to be able to afford to produce your event. Many organizers, however, limit their advertising space to their printed programs and entrance banners. This is understandable. There are already going to be vendors at your event trying to sell their wares. Sponsorship placards everywhere would dilute the vendors’ visibility and reduce their incentive to buy booth space. It’s also true that nobody wants their event to feel like Times Square.
Still, there are a few ways to increase the advertising space you can offer patrons. One of the best is to introduce an app to your event. You do not need to hire a programmer to create this app from scratch. There are conference app templates and frameworks that you can use to build the app yourself. Apps are great for many reasons. In this case, the added space for advertising will help you sell more ads and increase your revenue for the event itself.
You can also break your event down into specific spaces and offer sponsorship packages for them. For example, get a few companies to sponsor your vendor hall, a few more to sponsor your entertainment package, etc. Their logos can appear on the signage for these areas as well as in the program and app.
Finally, many event organizers fail to utilize the profit-producer that is the swag bag. Most events offer attendees a small bag of goodies that are exclusive to the event. Typically this includes a program, a lanyard and maybe a few coupons or buttons. Increase the demand of your swag bags by offering merchandise people will actually use and like: shirts, decks of cards, pens, water bottles, etc. Have companies pay you to advertise on the bag and to include fliers and other advertorials in the bag. You can also ask companies to send in merchandise (branded, of course) to help offset the production cost of the bags.
Charge for Vendor Space
Be careful with this one: you don’t want to charge so much that you turn potential vendors away. It is also tempting to charge for every little thing to help increase your profits, but be conservative here. The best approach is to offer a basic vendor package that includes entrance to the event for two, a table, a couple of chairs, a trash can, protected Wi-Fi access, and a specific amount of space. From here you are free to charge extra for items like:
- Extra badges for booth helpers
- Extra tables and chairs
- Power accommodations
- Specific types of decorations
- Different types and sizes of tables, chairs, signage, etc.
- Split signage (for vendors who pool together to share a space)
Sell Event-Specific Merchandise
Set up a merchandise booth with event-branded merchandise that attendees can buy. Most event organizers limit this to a t-shirt or two. If you want to increase revenue though, you’ll want to really deck out your merch booth. You’ll want at least four styles and a variety of sizes of shirts. Other popular items include:
- Branded lanyards
- Official posters (handy for events that involve celebrities, as it gives attendees something to have signed)
- USB drives
- Water bottles
- Tote bags
- Branded decks of cards
There are many ways to monetize your event so that you can increase your profit margin. These are just a few of them. Start here and you’ll be surprised at how many more ideas you can come up with on your own!