Top 4 Expense Challenges for Experiential Marketers


As your agency creates brand experiences to delight and connect with audiences, you may rely on local teams to lay the groundwork: setting up for events, assembling displays, or, as brand ambassadors, directly engaging with the audience. 

But if you depend on a team of remote, contracted workers, it can be difficult to securely and efficiently get funds into the hands of employees. While manual approval processes — printed forms, physical receipts, and multiple signatures — can be effective at preventing fund misuse, they may also prove unwieldy and time-consuming. 

Here are four strategies to help resolve some of the most common expense management challenges that experiential marketing agencies face.

Secure Spending Power

For some campaigns, your agency may be running multiple events simultaneously, and you can’t be everywhere at once. When spending needs crop up in the middle of events, whether that’s picking up extra beverages for sampling events or making repairs on a trade show exhibit, you need a way to safely and securely transfer funds. 

Prepaid debit cards offer a secure way to get limited funds to employees working on the ground at events. Cards don’t have to be issued to a specific person — you can issue cards to groups or teams, which eliminates the difficulties team turnover can cause and grants secure fund access to all employees. Event managers can transfer funds instantly or set up automatic refills. With efficient spending power, it’s easy for your field team to adapt to last-minute event emergencies.

Streamlined Event Approval

The behind-the-scenes of the event production process can quickly get hectic. Your field team needs to be able to quickly ask and receive approval on last-minute purchases to keep events running as planned.

Establishing preauthorized purchase thresholds allows employees to make small, routine purchases without individual approval on each beforehand. If promotional staff members need to make larger or unexpected purchases, expense management apps allow employees to request funds over text message. Administrators can then view the request anywhere on their mobile device and approve it in real time for secure, instant access to needed funds. 

Strict (and Scalable) Expense Control

When you have teams of employees in different locations that need fund access, you run the risk of fund misuse. Petty cash and check systems are difficult to track — you rely on employee-submitted expense reports and stapled stacks of receipts to guess at what was spent where. While it’s possible to track down fund misuse after the fact, it can be time-consuming and limits your cash flow in the meantime.

Modernized expense management platforms can automate your expense policy, blocking overspending and fund misuse before it happens. To enable control over where employees can spend, platforms leverage merchant category codes — a four-digit number assigned to businesses based on what goods and services they offer. From your smartphone or desktop, you can enable spend at grocery stores and prevent spend at restaurants in seconds. Expense management platforms also allow you to easily set daily and transactional limits to curb overspending.

Smart Billable Expense Capture

To create accurate client invoices, experiential marketing firms need to maintain a complete record of expenses incurred in the field. But if you wait for employees to submit expense reports, you won’t be able to get a timely picture of current expenses on the ground. You could be losing or delaying cash flow into your business.

Cloud-based reporting tools can track transactions in real time for instant insight into expenses. With a digital record of every dollar spent, it’s simple to reconcile expenses and invoice the client for on-site purchases. These tools also offer geotagging and timestamping capabilities, so you know exactly where and when promotional staff pick up supplies. 

Accurate Financial Reporting

While often firms focus on gaining more revenue — attracting more clients or launching more events — reducing expenses is also essential to maintaining a strong bottom line. Accurate expense reporting can help plan budgets for future projects and maximize your long-term profitability.

Expense management platforms allow you to generate expense reports on demand. With data sortable by employee, event or purchase type, you gain access to a new level of expense insight. Regularly review how your budget compares to actual expenses, especially for last-minute event purchases, to help identify areas to trim expenses and reduce overhead costs. Expense management platforms can also sync with accounting software like QuickBooks or Xero for seamless data entry.

PEX is a next-generation expense management solution that helps experiential marketing and event production firms manage cash flow, control budget and ensure security — all of which improves your bottom line. With comprehensive spend control and anywhere, anytime access to funds, you can spend less time on administration focus on growing your business.

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