Many companies in our industry have field days and other summer events. Field days are an important part of the seed business. Your customers are buying seeds, seed treatments, or other products from you, but they are selling vegetables, grains, oilseeds, and flowers to their customers. They don’t care what the seeds look like. They want to know how deep the color on the eggplants will be or how much healthier the plants are when a specific seed treatment is applied to the seed. Seeing is believing!
For many companies, they know they need to plan a field day, but this is completely out of their wheelhouse. One choice is to outsource it but there aren’t many event planners that specialize in agricultural events. So, many people and companies tackle this problem internally. This is going to help you think about how to build a budget for your event and stay within that budget.
At the end of this article, you will be ready to start planning your field days with confidence.
Many companies don’t know where to start. There are three common problems companies face when thinking about event planning.
Problem 1: Unsure of how much money is needed to pull off a successful event.
Problem 2: Unaware of the real costs of creating an event.
Problem 3: Unclear on what fair market prices are.
To tackle these problems you need to do some research and create a budget. The research will uncover how much things cost in your area and what is available. A comprehensive budget will tell you how much money you have to spend on this event. By comparing reasonable estimates with your budget, you can make the necessary adjustments upfront so you don’t end up with added expenses after the day is over.
Step 1: List everything you need for your event & why (venue, WiFi, security, ads)
The hardest thing about making a budget is capturing all of the costs. Most people focus on the big items. They know they need a venue, staff, and food. But they might forget security costs, advertising costs, internet access, expenses for journalists to cover the event, etc.
If you have hosted this event before, you’ve got an advantage – look at last year’s final expense list. Take that list and capture everything you spent money on. Nothing is too small; if you had to purchase parking cones to prevent people from diving into your fields include it.
The hardest thing about making a budget is capturing all of the costs.
If this is a new event, make a list of everything you think you might need to promote and host this event. Again no detail is too small.
Now next to your list of requirements, give a reason. Why do you need this line item? This will be important later on.
Step 2: Reach out to vendors while you are creating your budget and ask for general prices.
Since you are not a party planner by trade you probably don’t know what the going price for tent rental or sound equipment is. Why should you? The best way to find out what things cost is to ask vendors. Ask a few vendors and see if there is a range. At this point, you are not locking in prices, just getting a ballpark idea.
Step 3: Estimate how much you think that will cost.
Based on what you just learned you should be able to make an educated guess on how much each line item will cost you. The prices you got above might include different tiers or different levels of skill. Thinking about your specific event, what price do you think you will have to pay for each line item?
Then add an additional 15% to your estimate. Everything is more expensive than you think it will be in the beginning. Instead of pretending like this situation is special, be realistic. There are going to be added expenses, build them into your budget instead of being over budget at the end.
Step 4: Be willing to compromise, not everyone will fit into your budget.
This might be the hardest one. Now that you know how much each line item will cost, add up all of the expenses. What is the total? How does it compare to the number in your company budget for a field day? My guess is that the wishlist you just created is WAY higher than your approved budget. It always is.
You are going to have to compromise. But the magic of this approach is that you’ve already given yourself a little guidance. Go back to Step 1. You made lists of everything you needed and why.
This is going to be two parts. First, you are going to critically assess your whys. Looking at “why” you needed it, is it really a “need” or is it a “want”? Second, look at the items you picked. Do they line up with your why?
For example, you need a photographer to take pictures and promote the event over social media. Do you need the best photographer in town or can you go with a cheaper alternative? If it’s really for promotion, then maybe. If these pictures are going in next year’s catalog you want the best. These are the choices you have to make.
By following these four steps you can plan any event and stay within your budget. I have one bonus tip for you. Do not sign any contracts until you have all of the costs that you need for your event! You can prioritize until you have all the costs. If you have signed contracted you will be locked into those vendors even if you decide it is a low priority item. Prioritize needs and wants first and then sign contracts!