8 Tips to Get Big AV on a Small Budget

The sound that projects from the speakers at your event needs to be crisp and clear – it’s absolutely essential. You didn’t spend months trying to entice top presenters to wow the crowd at your event only to have their words come through garbled and incoherent when sent through a shoddy speaker system.

The same is true for the lighting that hits these speakers and the equipment they use to showcase their presentations. People speaking before your crowd spend a lot of time on their appearance and do not want to look washed out or have deep shadows on their face due to poor lighting. They also spend a lot of time on their presentations and won’t be happy if your equipment makes everything look like a jumbled mess. There is an expectation that these elements must work efficiently and effortlessly.

However, if you are not careful, audio visual (AV) equipment can quickly start to overtake your budget. And that’s just the basics. If you want to have a presentation with synchronized music and a light show or utilize animated graphics or any number of other possibilities, the cost of your AV needs can quickly increase.

We’re here to help. Here are eight steps you can take to ensure the quality of your AV presentation remains high while the costs remain low.

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Find Sponsors

Peanut butter and jelly. Batman and Robin. Audio visual and commercials.

Some things just naturally go together. From the early days of radio to today’s streaming content, there have always been ads accompanying this content. So, why should your AV offering be any different?

There are many creative ways to include sponsorship opportunities to your AV offerings. They range from simple to complex. Simple options can be as easy as adding sponsor logos to the equipment. Complex suggestions include integrating sponsor ads in the video presentation and audio announcements. The issue with these complex options is that the ads need to be organically and cleverly integrated, so they don’t feel obstructive or obnoxious.

Negotiate with the Venue

If your venue requires that you use their in-house vendor for your AV needs, you may feel that they have you back against the wall and you are without options. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can still negotiate. However, there is a very limited window in which to do so – and that is before you sign your contract. Once you sign on the dotted line, you are stuck.

It’s important to know that an in-house AV vendor likely isn’t really an in-house vendor. Most in-house AV companies are actually independent contractors that have an agreement with the venue. And to secure that contract they likely agreed to pay a significant commission – possibly as much as 60 percent.

So, the venue has a financial incentive for you to use the in-house vendor, not an emotional one. Remember, that venue wants you to sign, it wants your business. Before you sign, you can negotiate the cost of their in-house services, see if they will provide a service or two for free, and even demand the ability to use an outside vendor. Naturally, there’s no guarantee of success for any of these. But if you’re going to ask, this is the time.

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Do Your Research

Many event AV agreements will list the cost of an overall system without breaking out the specific equipment that’s contained within the system. Be sure that you understand everything that’s included, and that it is right for your needs. It may turn out that your AV company (in an effort to ensure that all bases are covered) is providing more items or ones with more power than you need. If you’re not certain, never be afraid to ask.

Sometimes, a system is the best option, while other times it may make more economic sense to select your equipment à la carte. However, determining the best possibility will likely require some legwork on your end.

Also, a trustworthy AV company knows that it is better to help a client save money per show and create a long-time relationship with a loyal customer than milk a few extra bucks out of a one-off deal. If you ask your AV supplier how you could possibly save some money and receive a disingenuous response, it’s time to find a new supplier. But judging the validity of their response requires some knowledge on your part, which means research.

Shop Around (Even if You’re Happy with Your AV Vendor)

Think of this as your next round of research. It never hurts to get price quotes from a variety of companies. Taking these quotes back to your preferred vendor can help you negotiate. Or, if you discover that the quotes are all similar, you’ll be certain that you’re already getting the best possible deal.

Uncover Inefficiencies

Getting a variety of quotes may even help you discover new solutions that you hadn’t thought of for your AV needs. It’s also possible that your preferred vendor has a reason for not suggesting these solutions, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Another idea, if you are having multiple events, is to have your AV vendor audit these events to see if they can identify possible areas where could save you money. Again, a trustworthy vendor is going to want to maintain your business over the long haul and make you happy by hitting your budget.

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Provide Opportunities for Your AV Vendor to Advertise

Similar to finding sponsors to offset some of your AV costs, your AV vendor may be interested in paying for a portion of your tab if you give them the opportunity to advertise their services.

This is another aspect that will require some negotiation for specific services and discounts. Your vender may already have ideas for ways to organically integrate some marketing within your existing AV plans. The last thing you – or they – will want is for the ads to distract from the event’s content.

Another option is to let the vendor promote their services on your website and in your event promotional materials.  

Sell Specialized Tickets to Fund AV Efforts

Virtual event attendance is a trend that is just now starting to take hold. While it is always preferable to be there in person, virtual attendees can gain value from presentations and speeches. Plus, it gives you another tool in your AV toolbelt.

These virtual tickets will sell for a lower ticket price than in-person options, and the money can be set aside to augment your AV budget. You will need to work with your AV vendor to ensure the experience you deliver is worth the cost of the ticket.

You could also establish a VIP package that includes specialized SWAG and reserved seats to important presentations. A portion of these sales could be bookmarked for AV costs.

Sell Memorabilia

Fans of your event may want some branded memorabilia, such as a tote bag, stickers, or a T-shirt, as a memory. If you’re going to sell these items anyway, why not set aside a portion of each sale to go toward the costs of your AV setup? 

AV doesn’t have to break the bank. With some careful consideration, you can still provide your presenters and attendees with an impressive show that’s within your budget. Give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433 to discover how we can help.