Sales leads and referrals are the lifeblood of every event-related business. While this holds true for almost every industry, the reality is that marketing any event service is not easy. New event projects launch every day through emails, phone conversations, and behind the closed doors of board meetings. The problem is, as a service provider, you rarely have access to these happenings. This means you are always reacting to inquiries instead of being part of the discussion.
In a perfect world, your event planning services should be mentioned in the first stages of a client’s event dialogue. To make this happen you need to be an effective marketer. Follow the strategies below to position your service in the minds of potential clients at the very moment they discuss hosting an event.
Build Your Online Network
The internet provides the largest network for generating sales leads, so it should come as no surprise you’ll need an attractive website and active profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Each one of these online assets has the capability to drive unique prospects, but none of them are passive outlets. To reap the benefits of each one you need to participate in discussions, share your expertise, and join groups where you can leverage the assets of others.
Engagement is the key, and this is where those who try to “do it alone” often fail.
Go Public, Target and Advertise
Even the most qualified planner will struggle to land new clients without live exposure. This includes public participation at industry events and media appearances.
You might think it is difficult to land a spot on a television or radio show but often times it is as easy as submitting a great story idea to the producers in the form of a press release. It is not an easy job to fill a show with content every single day, and if you can approach the right person with a unique angle then you will have no problem getting your foot in the door.
Design your messages specifically for the consumer audience you are targeting. If you manage to find media spots, see if you can get yourself included in the times that are best to reach your market.
Help Those in Need
Donating your time to a worthy cause can open several new opportunities to gain new clients. A lot of non-profit events would appreciate having the expertise of an event planner available.
Even if you can’t commit to running their event, there are plenty of other ways to participate. Perhaps you can be in charge of the floral arrangements or marketing materials? Little tasks like this can bring exposure and allow you to network with others.
Non-profit advisors and committees are typically staffed by local dignitaries and business leaders, all of whom have the connections to drive large quantities of leads to your business.
Refresh Existing Customers
Sometimes we get so focused on landing new customers that we forget about the existing assets sitting dormant in our contact lists. Go through your contact lists, email, LinkedIn and Facebook contacts and ask yourself: Does each person on this list know what I do for a living?
Obviously, you want to reach out to those who are unaware to update them on your career, but you should also reach out to everyone you haven’t talked to in over a year. Let them know what projects you have been working on and give them the necessary information to refer business your way.
This is one technique that is very powerful and woefully underutilized by most. The concept is to network with related businesses in an effort to identify ways you can share customers and prospects. Can you guest post on their blog, or share a discount on their Facebook page?
How about trading featured spots in each other’s email newsletters? At the very least it makes sense to feature the business card of related businesses at your shop and trade show booths. As long as you aren’t competing with your partners then the relationship should benefit everyone.
Marketing your event planning service requires commitment and creativity. No single idea will likely be enough to produce year-round leads. You need to compile a marketing plan that includes a variety of exposure outlets; from online properties to good old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing.