You might think there’s no way to organise an event with a zero budget, but, trust me, I have done it and it is absolutely possible. You will need patience and determination to start your own event planning business, but you certainly will not need to raise capital. Coordinate strictly your project, meet the deadlines you have set for yourself and be persistent.
1. Idea and Concept
Once you come up with an event idea, remember to be flexible. Leave yourself some room for modification and development of the idea. Once you finalise the idea, move on to developing the concept of the event. The concept will give you more competitive advantage; it is what will make your event stand out from similar ones. The event concept can include things like design, collaboration and partnerships with companies, technology, location, and others. Nowadays, most event planners aspire to holding eco-friendly events, which includes recycling, focusing on online advertisement and others. For more ideas on eco-friendly concepts, read the 10 tips for organising green events. Bear in mind, you are not simply holding an event; you are creating an experience for your audience. This brings me to the second point.
2. Determine the audience
Determining the audience for your event should never be underestimated. Your audience is the key to finding the right sponsors and partners. So, ask yourself these questions: Is my event niche, and will specific types of individuals/businesses show up? Previously, what audience have the event speakers I have in mind attracted? Considering the price of attendance, what groups will attend? If it’s too pricey, maybe students will not be keen to attend. Be prepared to give discounts and set up a promotion period. Also, consider the location and time of the event to estimate who can attend.
3. Create the agenda
Once you have settled your concept and estimated the expected audience, start thinking about the event’s agenda. Do you want to have an all-day event; is it going to be a workshop, stretching across a few weeks? Who are the speakers you can invite? Depending on your answers, you can start looking for the right venue, partners and sponsors.
4. Find the right venue
The venue is extremely important. For an all-day conference, a congress centre will be appropriate; however, you’re having workshops, a place which allows for close collaboration of attendees will be better. In any case, prepare a proposal of partnership for your chosen location. The goal is to find a venue with which you have common interests so that you can negotiate using it for free. Yes, it is possible.
5. Invite speakers for free
In order to attract speakers for free to your event, you should have a well-developed event plan that shows passion and inspiration, so that you can offer them a list of irresistible benefits following their attendance. For each speaker these will be different, but a common one is popularisation of their name/brand among a targeted audience, as well as an advertising opportunity. Don’t get melancholic if you someone refuses to participate, rather be prepared to alter your proposal and always have a few other lecturers in mind.
6. Find partners
Partnerships are not as hard to get as it may sound. Contact companies such as coffee and water suppliers, so that you provide some drinks at your event. You can also offer design students to expand their portfolio by creating promotional and other materials for the event.
7. Find sponsors
Firstly, you need to consider carefully which companies and organisations will be interested in sponsoring your event and what are the benefits this sponsorship offers them. Sponsoring companies are interested in the event’s audience and topic when they determine whether or not your event is an appropriate place to promote their brand. Above all, sponsorship is a way of connecting brands. For a detailed information on attracting event sponsors refer to our articles Looking for an event sponsor? (Part 1) and Looking for an event sponsor? (Part 2).
8. Free marketing and media partners
Whether it is possible to have a sufficient marketing campaign for free is a topic of its own. There are some ways to get around expensive on- and offline advertising. Firstly, there is social media, which you can handle yourself with a bit of enthusiasm. You can find plenty of information online with tips and analysis on how to use social media for promotion and the type of mistakes you should avoid at all costs. Yet, one of the most powerful tools for online promotion is to have compelling content to share with your target audience. Finding media partners to talk about your event, spreading interviews and reviews would be a great starting point for your marketing campaign. The media will give you credibility, so make sure you find at least one respected media partner.
9. Free website
Website design can actually drain half of your budget, so instead, try to do it yourself. Many solutions like WordPress and Wix offer great services for creating a customised website for free. You won’t need any extensive HTML knowledge and you will avoid hosting costs.
10. Choose your event management software wisely
Consider 2 things
– Don’t work with services asking for upfront payments
– Don’t work with services holding back your money
Before choosing your event management and ticketing software look thoroughly for a solution that will actually work for you. Take into consideration the options you are offered and the corresponding pricing. You should choose the solution that offers you the most flexibility and customisation options without tying you to third parties. Also, my advice is that you research the softwares’ fee collection process, otherwise you might end up negatively surprised by your cash being withheld due to transaction processes.
11. Build your pricing carefully
The pricing plan of your event has a crucial role in the decision-making process of many attendees. For budgeting tips, read our article How to estimate your budget accurately. Once again, be prepared to set up promotional periods and discounts.
12. Go live
Going live is the final step before the event itself. Once your event goes live, be prepared to answer question and track your results on an hourly basis so that you can adjust your plans according to the circumstances.