How to Produce Spectacular Events on a Shoestring Budget

By Katie Herritage, CMM, CMP, CSEP

DJ Aarostotle

When was the last time you had a completely unlimited budget to plan a spectacular event? I would be willing bet $100 the majority of you just smiled and said “Never.” The reality is event planners and marketing teams produce amazing awe-inspiring events every day by making frugal decisions on where best to allocate funding to make the most impact for guests and to achieve the business goals of the event. This can be an extremely daunting task, but it does not have to be.

A few years ago, I found myself in the midst of planning a holiday party for 700 people in the Washington, DC, area. I was given three weeks’ notice to plan the event and a budget of $50,000. When I began, I thought “This is easy! No problem. I’ll call so and so and have this done in no time.”

Unfortunately, after calling many of the local venues, I discovered that there was no availability, or where there was availability, the food and beverage minimums far exceeded $75,000. Within a single day my outlook on the event changed completely and I shifted into mission mode. Planning this event required imagination, resourcefulness, and incredible budgeting skills. Ultimately, I executed what guests (and my clients) perceived as a remarkable event, all for less than $45,000—including taxes, service fees, and gratuities. Continue reading

How Fight Night Increased Revenue By $500,000

Photo: Tony Brown/Imijination Photography

Photo: Tony Brown/Imijination Photography

Fight for Children‘s annual fundraiser, Fight Night is the ultimate man’s event combining bourbon, cigars, and a steak dinner with boxing and cheerleaders – all for a good cause. Thursday’s event at the Washington Hilton had the largest turnout of its 26 years with more than 1,800 people in attendance.

Organization COO Keith Gordon produced the event this time around looking to add more value to the guest experience in exchange for the pricey tickets. He worked with New Century Dance Company,  the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders, and East Coast Entertainment to increase the entertainment elements in addition to the two boxing matches.

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The Principal’s Office: Marketing Lesson to Learn From Disney


Photo: Courtesy of Disney-Pixar

Earlier this summer Disney announced it’s lineup of movies in the works through 2017 to come from Pixar and Marvel as step 1 of its fall marketing plan. Recently the production powerhouse extended that list with another two years worth of movies in the pipeline. This would be what I call the Long Game of Marketing. The goal of this type of marketing strategy is this: whet the appetite of your target audience now for projects or products to come down the line while increasing engagement with current items in the marketplace.

In the short term, the PR for long-term projects will bring your brand back into the forefront of people’s minds and, if done right, cause a spike in interest for your current services.  Following this strategy, you should include calls-to-action for what you want to push now with references to the future related content/services. Disney did just this by referencing the success of past films available now for purchase like the first two installments of the Avengers, Cinderella, and Toy Story–each of which has spurred another production coming soon to theaters.

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