As budgets remain an ever-evolving concern in the faith-based event planning process, an essential question to keep in mind is, “How can we get the best value for our dollar?” The need for creativity becomes heightened as challenges like tight budgets arise. Set yourself up for success by applying the following five creative ways to afford more with less.
Have faith that a win/win solution can be achieved. Believing it’s possible to come to an agreement that will satisfy everyone is the first step. Your confidence is necessary to set the tone of the relationship. Conversely, doubt and skepticism (what some planners call realism) can have the opposite effect. Optimism is more conducive to successful outcomes. Believing opens your mind to creative thinking, which allows for possibilities to flow. The more choices and options you consider, the better the result will be. Positive thinking starts with an unwavering belief that you can affordably get what you want.
2. Choose your words wisely.
There are certain words and phrases that can improve your chances of getting more for less. Try using phrases like:
—Let’s explore our options.
—I’m sure we can come to a fair solution.
—As a good-will gesture…
—Together, let’s see how we can create a win/win agreement.
Language is behavior, and behavior is language. Choosing words that will build good will, trust and positive rapport is essential. There are three outcomes to most negotiations: win/win, lose/lose and win/lose. Of course the best outcome is win/win, and the best way to achieve it is to ask the right questions to determine what the opposite side will see as a win.
It’s common to be apprehensive about asking certain questions for fear you may come across as pushy or aggressive. But if you are prepared, you can come up with natural questions that sound more curious than invasive. Here are some of my favorite questions to seek out cost-cutting opportunities:
—What kind of flexibility do you have with your pricing?
—What is most important to you about working with us on this event?
—Why is that?
—Please tell me more...
You can find out what the opposite party (an industry partner, vendor or speaker, for example) values most by asking questions like these:
—What did you have in mind?
—What are your thoughts on...?
—What do you think about...?
—What’s the likelihood we could...?
Money is just one of many variables to consider. For instance, if a speaker’s fee is a budget buster for you, but you know their message and persona makes them a great person to start your meeting, here is an example of one approach you could take:
“You are the perfect speaker to kick off our event. Unfortunately, we can’t afford your fee. Is there was any flexibility on that?” You can explore options by asking, “What if we were able to give you a few extra nights at the resort for a reduction in fee?” Some speakers might jump at that opportunity, while others may not. But you never know until you ask.
4. Listen for value and variables.
Listening is a skill few do well. It takes patience and discipline. It’s essential to listen carefully to the answers of the questions you ask to create more win/win outcomes. Too often, we assume someone wouldn’t possibly give us more for less. We might think, why would they do that? Well, they have their reasons, and it comes down to value. You won’t know what someone values unless you ask and then listen. Preconceived notions can cloud communication. Remember, your perception is not their perception.
5. Give and get.
If you are giving something, it’s nice to get something (and vise versa). This is called quid pro quo. Some venues may be happy to give you a price break on meals if you give them a shout-out from the podium or introduce them to other planners who could book an event at their venue. But be careful not to get petty with this construct. It’s really about uncovering value to the other party that costs you nothing and value to you that costs them nothing. Questioning and brainstorming help to uncover hidden values that lead to the win/win joy of negotiating more for less.
Joy Baldridge, CPC, CSP, is a keynote speaker, author and thought leader who began her speaking career at the White House at age 19. She is founder of Baldridge Seminars International, a professional development organization. Contact her at