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Get Smart About Set Design: Six Reasons You Should Invest in Your Own Staging Materials

March 02, 2023

Organizations should think about set design as a multi-year investment, not a one-time expense. Investing in your own materials will reap long-term dividends. Too often, we see organizations take an all-or-nothing approach when planning the staging for their event. It doesn’t have to be $4,000 or $0. Simple and incremental is the smart approach. A banner with a brand is better than nothing. If you’re considering whether to rent or purchase your own staging materials, we encourage you to ask yourself: “Seven years from now, will I look back on my organization’s library of assets and feel like it all makes sense?

More Funds Invested Initially Into Staging Will Reap Greater Savings

Let’s take a real-world scenario and see how this could play out. Suppose you’re in a budget planning meeting with your team to discuss the best way to steward funds for the annual conference. You and your team are confident the event will continue over the next three years, but you’re struggling to allocate funds for set design. You’re also in a period of growth as a business. You have two choices: establish a multi-year materials budget of $500 the first year, $1,500 the second year, and $2,500 the third year; or, invest $3,000 the first year and hold off on committing any funds for the subsequent years. On the surface, it may be tempting to commit fewer funds in year one, but you may be surprised at how much you can actually save by taking an investment-minded approach to your staging needs.

An indoor stage is set with a large blue backdrop that reads "America strong and free border summit. Tuscon Arizona." This cloth background is accompanied with a widescreen that reads the same thing.

6 Benefits of Investing In Your Own Staging Materials

1. It’s Adjustable

Simplifying the process of making adjustments to hardware reduces costs. For example, what if your company changed its logo since last year’s conference? With the right product (we like banners from StretchShapes), you can print a new banner with the updated logo but keep the hardware. This costs much less than scrapping the entire setup/hardware.

2. It’s Scalable

Think modular. If you’re a relatively young organization with a small budget, you can take an incremental approach, and grow your set design through the years. By investing in reusable assets, you can use them year after year. If you buy a new asset every year instead of paying a vendor for a bespoke set design only relevant to a single year’s conference theme, for example, you’re able to grow into something more complex and elegant every year. And best of all, you own it.

A loudspeaker sits next to a portable outdoor stage on a summer day.

3. It’s Portable

The quality and compactness of gear continue to improve. Your investment in hardware not only saves you from rental expenses, but it also has the potential to save you cost and complexity when traveling. Most gear we use and recommend is foldable and portable. You can literally fly with your sign fabrics and have your production company bring their own frames to the venue.

4. It Helps to Market Your Brand

Investing in an asset that you own, however simple, is easy marketing. A simple branded banner behind a stage podium is just as effective as a complex LED wall that may cost thousands of dollars. Every time a conference attendee posts a picture of an event speaker on social media, your brand has the potential to be seen by thousands of people instantaneously. You can pay for something simple and reap dividends for your organization.

5. It’s Multi-Functional

You should consider assets that serve as many purposes as possible. The right stage banner can become a selfie station in a conference lobby. Both purposes matter and add value to your organization.

6. It’s Sustainable

Investing in modular or reusable hardware is investing in sustainability. Evergreen materials are good for the planet. You can, and should, mention these choices to your customers and employees. It sends a message that your organization is thinking about its use of resources, and cares about how materials impact people and the planet.

How Taking the Long-Term View Can Save Cost

A presenter sits in front of a large audience on a stage. The room is dimly lit and is filled with orange light.

For many years, organizations were forced to rent equipment from event production vendors because materials were inaccessible or simply too cost-prohibitive to procure for themselves. Thankfully, this has changed. In fact, in most cases, the economic logic has flipped. The advantage of long-term investments in a scalable library of assets outweighs the cost of rental for one-off use. This necessitates a shift in mindset and budget strategy. Many of our clients plan annual events, and we approach our partnership and support with a long-term view in mind. We hope you’ll also consider the long view. As you do, you may be surprised at just how much you can save in the long run by investing in something you can own and use year after year.

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