10 Ways to Keep Costs Down While Hosting Your Next Local Event

Often, one of the most gratifying parts of being a small-business owner is building a connection to your local community. One of the many ways business owners can do this is by hosting local events. Whether it’s an intimate gathering in your store or a big summer bash, events are key opportunities for strengthening your relationship with your customers — but that doesn’t mean they have to break the bank.

To help you determine the best ways to cut costs while still putting on an event to remember, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) weigh in on the following question:

“While hosting a local event can be a great way to market your small business, it can easily become too expensive if you’re not careful. What’s one tip you’d offer small-business owners for how to keep costs down when hosting a local event, and why?”

ways to keep costs down while hosting local event

Here’s what they recommend.

1. Develop a Detailed Budget

“One of the best ways to keep costs down when hosting a local event is to develop a detailed budget. Every stage of the event, from planning to post-event follow-up, should be forecasted so that you won’t run into any costly surprises. A carefully considered budget also allows you to estimate your ROI on the event and measure its performance so that you can learn how to improve future events.” ~ Jack Perkins, CFO Hub

2. Collaborate With Other Businesses

“One way to bring your expenses down when hosting local events is to collaborate and partner with other businesses. Collaborative partnerships provide an opportunity for cross-promotion and reaching a wider audience. Each partner can leverage their marketing channels — such as social media, newsletters or customer bases — to promote the event.” ~ Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite

3. Tap Your Network for Help

“Tap your extended professional network. One of the reasons we advise smaller companies and solo professionals to network extensively is to be better prepared for situations like this. You never know who in your network can cut you a deal on catering, space for the event or incidentals like flowers and decorations.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

4. Cut Back on Excessive Amenities

“Keep costs down for amenities such as food, decorations and equipment. For example, you could serve snacks and appetizers rather than a complete meal. Use simple but tasteful decorations. Have a good AV system, but remember that it doesn’t have to be top-of-the-line. Focus on the core theme of the event, such as having quality speakers and information, and don’t overspend on excessive amenities.” ~ Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

5. Do Your Own Marketing

“In my experience, you can save money on local events by doing your own traditional marketing. Whether it’s getting an ad in the local paper, putting up fliers or connecting with other businesses in the area, this marketing style will save money and result in a higher attendance rate when compared to most paid digital marketing.” ~ John Turner, SeedProd LLC

6. Leverage the Right Technology

“One way to reduce the cost of hosting a local event is to leverage technology. For example, you can use event management software for ticketing, registration and managing the guest list. This strategy will save time and reduce the cost of working with multiple third-party vendors just to market and distribute tickets.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

7. Book Your Event as Early as Possible

“I find that the best thing to do is be active and find out about local fairs, conventions and so on as early as possible. Many of these events have early bird offers where you can get a good advertising package, stall or some other option for lower rates at first. The longer you delay signing up, the more expensive such events get. So, sign up for newsletters and book your events fast.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress

8. Avoid Outsourcing to Event Planners

“Take the responsibility of organizing the event and making arrangements yourself rather than outsourcing it. Onboarding event planners can be expensive. So, rather than hiring one, assign the tasks to your team and ask them to do what’s needed. This may cut down your cost significantly and may even increase the likelihood your event is a success since you’re personally involved.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

9. Establish a Ticket Limit

“You can keep the cost down on local events by establishing a ticket limit before the event begins. For instance, if you plan on having a buffet at the event, you don’t want to plan for 100 people only to find that 300 people signed up. Establishing a seat limit helps you build boundaries around other aspects of the event, which will help you save money.” ~ Daman Jeet Singh, FunnelKit

10. Lean into Your Community

“Between the planning and the execution, hosting local events can become cost-prohibitive if you don’t approach it strategically. Events are an excellent opportunity to lean into your community and bring other businesses on board to support you as event sponsors. Choosing companies you align with can build community and draw more attention to your event — all while easing your finances.” ~ Rachel Lipson, Blue Balloon Songwriting for Small People.

Image: Envato Elements

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.