(This blog entry was written for Event Planners Association)
When starting your own event planning business it's difficult to decide where to start. Which is the reason for this article.
Today, we'll discuss eight ways that you can promote your event planning business to the right audiences. It's important to remember that marketing is essential to your business. The following are eight great ideas to add to your marketing repertoire.
For most event planners, networking is at the top of the list in terms of developing a strong client base. Networking is more than just word of mouth, it's also association. Word of mouth only travels if you meet people. They need to TALK about you. Attending local conferences, meetings, social events and gatherings, and any local clubs. If people have met you and know what services you offer, they may refer your business to someone they know or use your service themselves.
An ad in the Yellow Pages is such an easy, simple, and classic business marketing strategy. A simple lined listing with your business name, address, phone number, and website(s) is often provided free of charge. You can also opt for a display advertisement — the bigger, bordered ads in the Yellow Pages — however, there’s a charge for these. Another route to consider is advertising in a local newspaper or in a regional magazine – which is especially effective if you plan corporate or community events. We call these above-the-line advertising or mass marketing. Remember those events and gatherings we were talking about earlier? Those are perfect opportunities to do some below-the-line advertising - that is, something more interactive and tangible that you can hand out to the people you meet. We'll go over more of that, don't worry.
3. BUSINESS CARD
Don’t underestimate the power of this small but mighty marketing tool. Even in the computer age, a succinct, professionally printed business card is still critical. Most event planners opt for tri-fold business cards because more information can be included than on a traditional business card all the while remaining small enough to tuck inside a wallet or purse. Include the name of your business, contact information (e-mail, phone and website address, for instance), your name, specialization, your logo, and some testimonials from past clients. Ask vendors with whom you work with if you can leave a stack of business cards in their places of business. ALWAYS. CARRY. BUSINESS CARDS. You never know when you'll meet your next lead or business venture.
4. INFORMATIVE BROCHURES
Like a business card, only bigger. A well-designed brochure will include all the same information but more of it. Add photos of past events or collaborations to give a vision of your service. You may also want to include a photo of yourself, too. Ensure your company brochure matches the type of business you have. All materials should look professional, but if you are marketing to a budget-conscious group, a too-glamorous brochure can send the wrong message. As with your business cards, leave your brochure anywhere you can.
5. DIRECT MAIL
You may choose to advertise your business via direct mail. Event planner David Granger, says that while word of mouth is his most effective advertising, he uses mailing lists of the organizations his company belongs to (International Special Events Society, Meeting Professionals International, National Association for Catering and Events, and the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau) to keep in touch with new and existing clients.
6. CUSTOMER SERVICE
No matter what industry you’re in, customer service is a key element in customer retention. Retaining the customers you have can very well lead to new ones. When a customer loves the service they will let others know. Going that extra mile to make a customer feel extra special goes a long way, and if you have employees take the time to train them in procedures and rules for your company. Your employees are a reflection of not only your company but yourself. So, be sure to stand out as a company with integrity that cares about its patrons.
7. INSTAGRAM & FACEBOOK
Instagram is all about photos and why write a long winded post when you can post a photo. Pictures have the capability of drawing your audience into your world to the point of captivation. Think about the posts you stop to view on Facebook, are they text-based or photo? If it's the latter why not capitalize on photo communication.
Facebook, on the other hand, is geared toward communication and networking. Friends, family, and potential leads will “LIKE” pages/websites they want to support or really like. In other words, create a Facebook page that not only promotes your event planning business, but use gives them a glimpse of what you do, how you do it, and don't forget to include those awesome photos from that Rolling Stones concert you recently worked.
With Twitter, you can tweet quick messages to your subscribers to remind them about your business. “Lady Gaga just said ‘yes’ to special appearance at Stones concert! Better get your ticket now!” or “Just found out about a great new event venue with full-service spa—does your corporate event need planning?” might be messages that promote your service while also offering benefit to the reader.
As your Facebook and Twitter audiences grow, stay creative. Invent new ways to engage your audience and encourage them to invite their friends. Continue to avoid hard sales pitches. People don’t forward commercials to their friends — they forward value.