14 Ways to Make Your Next In-Store Soirée More Affordable

Running a business or marketing event can be a great way to engage your customers and drive traffic to your business. While it’s true that events can be expensive, it’s not always the big spending that lures people in. You can run a very affordable promotion on a limited budget.

Wine and cheese don’t cut it anymore—the event needs to be worth customers’ time. Prizes always work well and they don’t have to cost a fortune. Having something like new products from a well-known brand can help the cause—if you create a sense of scarcity in terms of supply or time frame, it encourages people to take action.

Always encourage customers to RSVP—they’re more likely to come. And don’t forget to send reminders!

Here are 14 ways to keep the budget for your next event modest:

1. Get suppliers and sales reps to chip in.
Vendors will sometimes provide prizes, or even meet some of the marketing costs for you, if it helps their cause. They also may have co-op advertising money you can tap into.

2. Barter with other ­businesses for prizes.
For example, trade a $100 voucher of yours for a $100 voucher of theirs.

3. Use giveaways, not discounting.
Offering a good prize is often a better draw and cheaper overall than giving guests an across-the-board discount.

4. Get expert presenters.
If your event is about educating your customers, find expert speakers. We often invite faculty from the local college to speak; it gives our clients great content and exposure for the speakers.

5. Send out press releases.
If there’s a newsworthy angle, your event may be of interest to the media—and that means free publicity!

6. Piggyback with other offers.
Make sure they leave with information about upcoming promotions and other events you may be holding.

7. Look for reciprocal promotions.
What could other businesses tell their customers about your event?

8. Give flyers to nearby businesses.
Many store owners forget that staffers at neighboring businesses are potential customers. Some simple marketing ­flyers will get the word out.

9. Get the signage up and use handouts leading up to the event.
Every customer who comes in or calls your store in the month prior should know the event is happening. If possible, get them to RSVP then and there.


10. Got windows? Use ’em!
Design a display to promote the event.

11. Target your best customers.
A database mailing inviting your best clients to bring a friend will attract attendees. Your best sales prospects are those who already buy from you!

12. Use social media.
Enough said!

13. Leave details about the event on your voicemail greeting.

14. Rely on free online tools.
We use Eventbrite to run our marketing workshops. (It charges a percentage of the ticket price for paid events, but it’s gratis for free ones.) They give you a professional platform and landing page to promote the event, allow for follow-up reminder emails sent automatically, and can provide you with ticketing and label lists.

There are lots of ways to run your next event for little or no cost. Put on your thinking cap and get your next business event under way now!

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