Event planning on a budget can be tricky. When the purse strings are tight, you need to balance investing in a great event with promoting it to attract attendees. We’re here to help you get the most out of your event budget. We’ve put together 25 useful event planning tips for stretching your event budget dollars further – including 15 budget-friendly event planning tips and 10 affordable ideas for promoting your event.
15 money-saving tips for event planning on a budget
1. Know your attendees
One of the best tips for planning an event on a budget is to know your attendees inside and out. Having a clear view of your audience demographics will help you plan more efficiently, spend less on marketing, and attract partners that can help reduce your costs.
2. Negotiate with venues and vendors
Always get multiple quotes for venues and vendors. Shop around and be prepared to negotiate to get the best deal. If they can’t lower the price, see if they are willing to trade some additional inclusions in exchange for being promoted as a sponsor.
3. Ticket every event
Even if your event is free, you should always be looking at ticketing. Offering tickets online helps you build a clearer picture of attendance numbers, gather important demographic data, and set up a direct communication channel with interested attendees – whether or not they show up on the night.
Holding a free event? Eventbrite is free to use for free and not-for-profit events, and we have plenty of event planning tips on how to promote an event for free and boost turnout.
4. Be flexible with dates
You might be surprised at how many people will come out to an event on a Tuesday evening. Days that are quiet for venues attract lower costs – and you will have less to compete with when it comes to getting the time and attention of your attendees.
5. Invite sponsors and brand partners to create activations
Sponsors and brand partners can help entertain your guests on a budget. Rather than simply asking for money, you can collaborate to run a fun activity or brand activation that enhances attendee experience, like cheap giveaways for events. This is a win-win situation that entertains attendees and won’t cost you a cent.
6. Uncover new and local businesses
New businesses don’t have a lot of cash to offer for sponsorships, but they are keen on getting the word out about their products – your event could be the perfect opportunity. For example, if you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy dessert offering, start searching the platform for hashtags like #melbournecakes or #sydneybaker to see if you can find an up-and-coming influencer or entrepreneur that will give you a discount (or maybe a free shout out!) to help get their name out there.
7. Consider raw or unique event spaces
Some venues are locked into contracts for catering, or offer low room hire rates but expensive food and beverage packages. Hunting for free event venues? Particularly if you’re able to partner with some new and exciting businesses to provide food and drink, hiring a raw space (or different spaces that aren’t locked into event contracts) could save you a lot of money.
8. Get crafty with your event styling
Pinterest is the friend of event planners when it comes to inspiration for styling and event themes. If you’re looking to make a splash on a budget, you may want to get crafty and look for DIY tips before you start spending up big on decor. For example, creating a unique photo booth is a simple and cheap event planning tip to entertain your attendees and provide a keepsake of your great event.
9. Check eBay and Gumtree for bargains
eBay is great for both second-hand and new bargains when it comes to styling an event. Common items like foil balloon lettering, photo booth props, lights, and signage can be picked up for a fraction of the cost at party stores. Gumtree, meanwhile, comes in handy for things like fake grass or interesting props that people don’t need anymore.
10. Source a local music act
If you can’t afford a band or DJ, look to local universities, music schools, or even buskers to find a local gem that fits your budget. Start within your own networks to see if you can find someone reliable who’s keen to take on a casual gig in a local setting.
11. Limit drink choices
If you’re offering alcohol at your event, decide upfront what will be available at the bar and create a menu with a few select choices and non-alcoholic alternatives to reign in your up-front booze spend. If you can partner with an alcohol brand, invite them to create a signature cocktail for the evening to promote their product and limit costs.
12. Offer drink tickets
An alternative to limiting consumption at your bar is to provide guests with drink tickets on arrival. This secures your spending and, if you have a sponsored product on offer, can help you ask for exactly what you need without going overboard. Provide a cash bar for anyone that wants more to give more to support your venue.
13. Recruit volunteers
Event volunteers are the perfect solution to help you increase manpower and stay within budget. Of course, recruiting and training volunteers does take some effort, but, with the right strategy, it’s effort that will pay off.
14. Perform at your best with free tools
The right event tools can help you level up your event and achieve a lot more with less. From drafting a production schedule to creating invitations, promoting ticket sales and selling merch, free tools such as Doodle, Google Sheets, and Canva are available to help you reduce operational costs and outdo the competition.
15. Streamline operations to improve efficiency
Inefficient on-site operations can escalate staffing costs. The more manual tasks you have, the more staff or paid hours you need to complete the job. Take inspiration from the Science Alive Expo that reduced their casual staffing needs and training time with the Eventbrite Organiser app.
10 event planning tips for promoting an event on a budget
Once you’ve applied our event planning tips to put a budget-busting plan in place, it’s time to look at spreading the word. Don’t have a dedicated marketing team? No problem. There’s plenty of ways to spend less and sell more on a tight event marketing budget.
1. Grow your email database
Building your email database is a great way to increase your audience and promote your event for free. Here are some quick tips to grow your database:
- Use a pop-up form on your website to capture new visitors
- Create an incentive for joining, such as exclusive discount codes and early-bird specials
- Run a competition and collect email addresses to boost your numbers
- Create genuinely useful newsletters that people want to stay subscribed to, rather than blasting marketing messages alone
2. Offer marketing trades
After you’ve established an email database, consider offering spots to venues, vendors, or other partners in exchange for promotion of your event to their database. A win-win at no cost to you.
3. Enlist the help of partners and influencers
Extend your marketing reach by enlisting the help of your event partners to spread the word. When choosing who to book (such as speakers or vendors), you may want to consider looking at their potential marketing reach and including this as part of negotiations.
4. Promote on social media
It’s stating the obvious these days to say that social media is a good platform to promote an event – but there are definitely ways to level up your promotional skills without paying a fortune in social media advertising costs too. Check out this helpful guide on micro-influencers to extend your reach without blowing your budget.
5. Automate your marketing
If you’ve got a small team or are flying solo, a handy event planning tip is to look at automating promotions that can reduce your manual workload and focus your efforts on putting on a great event.
There’s a potential audience out there looking for an event just like yours. To help you reach them, we’ve created a paid social ads feature for Facebook and Instagram. This tool is built specifically for our event creators, just like you. The paid social ads feature creates hyper-targeted audiences and automatically optimises your ads based on performance, delivering the right ads to people most likely to buy a ticket.
6. Sell tickets on Facebook and Instagram
Thanks to tools like Facebook Checkout, events using an eligible ticketing partner (such as Eventbrite) can sell tickets directly to their fans on social media. It doesn’t cost anything to use and events that sell tickets directly on Facebook drive 20% more sales and twice the free registrations on average than events that redirect to a ticketing page.
7. Get your event listed everywhere
The more places your event is listed, the better. Of course, this can be time-consuming and may feel like more hassle than it’s worth, unless you apply event planning tips to automate the process. Eventbrite users can access our distribution partners such as Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Eventful, and Bandsintown to engage potential attendees on their favourite websites and apps.
8. Drive traffic with content marketing
Creating custom content for your event can come with a payoff. Shareable infographics, blog posts, videos, and how-to guides are just some of the creative event planning ideas that can rack up thousands of links, shares, and visits. Creating a free custom event banner can help you to rank better in search results and attract people to your event. When you give them good content, your audience members will help do the marketing work for you.
9. Take advantage of free PSAs
Public Service Announcements (or “PSA” advertisements) are typically reserved for educational purposes, however, they can also be offered to charitable or non-profit organisations promoting fundraising and community events. Most media outlets offer unsold column inches or even TV spots to charitable organisations on application. Check with your local media outlets for more information and their eligibility criteria.
10. Send personalised, targeted emails
To really drive more bang for buck in your email marketing, you should be segmenting your database to send more targeted emails. Studies have found that marketers can improve conversion by 355% – and increase revenues by 781% – by sending more targeted emails that apply best practices to turn more email addresses into “yeses”.
Tackle your event budget
Now that you’re armed with 25 event planning tips, you’re ready to create a practical event planning blueprint that’s tough on the competition but light on your bank account. Any type of event can be delivered on a shoestring, it just takes the right preparation and tools. If you’re offering your event for free, it’s free to list your event, too. The golden rule for planning an event on a tight budget is to stay ahead of your costs. Grab your free event budget template to keep the number-crunching simple and on track.