This is the last installment in our four-part series on event growth. If you missed out on the others, be sure to first check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Today, we’ll talk about the final two Rs: Revenue and ROI.
Yeah, we’re going to focus on the $. And love’s got nothing to do with it—it’s about the money (revenue) and, most importantly, the ROI. While I know you love your members and the guests who attend your events, you can show them more love if you are more profitable, offer a better experience and invest in a better event. Your members and your audience deserve it, and you need the money to invest and pay for it. Higher revenue and better ROI are not only desirable; they are essential. Revenue and ROI are to your event what the “Arc Reactor” is for transforming Tony Stark into Iron Man.
Now, let’s talk about how to do it. There are many ways to increase event revenue, but here’s a good start:
- Attract more new participants using new list sources beyond your in-house database. And don’t automatically default to offering deep discounts to acquire them.
- Retain more prior-year event guests, which increases profit and reduces acquisition costs—we talked about this in last week’s blog.
- Generate more revenue from each guest—this can be very effective and profitable. Have you ever bought a T-shirt, food or souvenir, or downloaded an album, at a concert? You get my drift.
- Increase your registration fee. A 5%–10% increase every year is reasonable if your event is providing more value each year.
- Establish new registration options, such as team pricing or subscription pricing for multiple years.
- Offer a year of membership if an event guest registers for two consecutive years.
- Offer new members complimentary event registration as a member benefit (and charge more for membership to cover it).
- Offer new inventory for exhibitors and sponsors to invest in. They have good ideas, so ask them.
- Identify an underwriter (not just a sponsor) for key elements of the event such as education or networking.
- Partner with local businesses and create revenue and barter opportunities that your audience will value (think museum passes, attractions, pre- and post-event activities).
Does your event allow audience members to buy podcasts of the best education sessions, a signed photo of the famous keynote speaker, signed books or other memorabilia? If your event hasn’t historically created this kind of revenue, fear not. There is hope. It’s working at other events, and you can easily begin to generate new revenue from your core audience.
Let’s shift to ROI (return on investment). This is the result of your successful effort and investment in the first five Rs. Let me introduce three lines of questioning that may open your eyes to new ROI possibilities:
- Do you even measure ROI? You’re a nonprofit, right? You may say, “We are in this to deliver member value, not to make money.” The truth is, the higher the ROI, the more you can invest, subsidize and add value for your members. A 20% ROI is the minimum you should shoot for. We work with an organization that has a ROI of 60%—not bad. Decide what you will do with this additional profit. Your members will appreciate it.
- Are you getting the bang for your buck on every line item of your event P&L? How much does a $100K keynote speaker add to the bottom line? What about audiovisual? Should you charge à la carte for special sessions, offer VIP seating or sell backstage passes? Give these questions serious consideration, and it may allow your team to shift funding to new areas of investment that will deliver a better bottom line.
- Does your audience achieve an ROI? Are you investing in the right things for your audience? Are they getting value from your investment? How do you know? Your audience is looking for a return on their registration and travel investment, a return on the opportunity cost of being out of the office, a return on the ideas they get at your event. Are you giving your audience inspiration that provides a valuable return?
This concludes my four-part series on the 6 Rs. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.