How Much of Your Budget to Save for Marketing

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

As an event management professional, budgeting can be one of the most difficult tasks you’ll ever do. Sadly, it’s also the most important – failure to set a proper budget for an event makes it infinitely more likely that you’re going to end up with a catastrophe on your hands further down the line. For that reason, it’s imperative that you get your budget figured out before launching into the planning phase.

Now, every event is different; no two events will have a budget that looks entirely identical. There are still some rules and guidelines you can follow to ensure you plan accordingly. How much you spend on advertising is highly dependent on how you get the word out about your event. Thanks to Social Media and the Internet, it’s actually entirely possible to market a conference without spending much at all.

Whether or not you decide to do this depends almost entirely on your demographic – though I wouldn’t advise discounting traditional mediums altogether.  Generally, you shouldn’t look at word-of-mouth and social networks as your only means of marketing.  Instead, consider them a secondary (albeit incredibly important) source of attendees, and focus on a multiplatform approach.

If, for example, you’re running an event that primarily targets young business professionals, you might opt to run campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn, while placing print and digital ads in publications like Forbes, McCains, and the Wall Street Journal. If, however, you’re targeting an older – and less tech-savvy – audience, traditional print and billboard ads might well be the way to go.

As for how much all this will cost you? As a general rule, you’re going to want to devote a substantial volume of funds to your marketing efforts. Depending on whether you handle things in-house or hire an external firm, this could represent anywhere from 5-15% of your budget (though in certain special cases you might wind up spending a little more).

It’s your job as an event management professional to ensure that you devise a suitable promotional campaign – and work out how much you need to spend on it, besides. Fail to do so, and it should be fairly clear what the results will be; people can’t attend an event if they don’t know about it.