The Fundamentals of Starting a Successful Event Planning Business
More than many other service business, event planning is a people-focused business. Realize this fact early on, and you’ll go a long way toward meeting your clients’ needs and reaching your own personal and professional goals.
If you’re in the starting stages of starting a successful event planning business, follow these 6 tips and build a network of event planners, event vendors and clients you can work with for years to come.
Six Tips To Starting A Successful Event Planning Business
1.Develop a niche. What kind of client do you want to do business with? Are you interested in offering your services for those getting married, for corporate affairs, or for small businesses or non-profits that put together annual fundraisers? The choice is yours.
Remember, however, that trying to “be all things to all people” is rarely a good strategy in any event planning business.
Focusing on a niche will give you expertise within that niche – as well as targeted clients.
2. Learn to manage your clients’ expectations. Event planning services have to present themselves honestly yet with an eye towards giving clients more value than they might have expected. The old adage: “under-promise, but over-deliver” certainly applies to anyone embarking on starting a successful event planning business.
However, the wise event planner will, early in the process of consulting with a potential client, learn to “weed out” those individuals who have very unrealistic expectations. You want clients who are realistic about the costs for both your services and any supplies or perishables that will be required.
In addition, while you might expect to work with folks who are demanding – you don’t have to put up with abuse or patronizing behavior. Learn to spot problem clients before you work with them and you’ll save yourself unnecessary stress. At the same time, go above and beyond what’s expected for those clients that are easier to work with and pay you on a timely basis. Chances are, their friends and colleagues behave similarly.
3. Develop your network. Of course, one way to zero in on worthy clients (who may prove to be lucrative, repeat customers) while avoiding those who either can’t afford you or won’t appreciate the value you provide is to develop a network.
You’ll want to build a client list early on, and network with those who can send event planning business your way. But don’t forget the supply side of your business: learn to build great relationships with banquet halls, commercial food wholesalers, caterers, bartenders, DJs, etc. Not only will they eventually grant you discounts – but these outfits have leads for you as well.
4. Use social media to your advantage. Food trucks, of all things, use tools like Twitter and Facebook to alert their customers to where they’ll park next (since they have “portable” businesses). They’re also able to build customer loyalty by tweeting about discounts and promotions to their social media followers. So, why can’t you?
Social media isn’t just for large corporations – or food trucks – anymore. Smaller, locally focused services like event planners are beginning to see how social media networks can help them market and grow their client base. Use “dashboard” tools for Twitter like “HootSuite” to really get the most out of Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.
5. Every interaction can lead to word-of-mouth marketing. Even a casual visit to your local party supply store can bing your next client. Hand out business cards to the clerk at the counter or pin one to the store bulletin board. When people ask you what you do for a living – tell them! People love parties and fun events – and they are your business! Marketing your event planning business may involve simple, everyday conversations with the people you see on a regular basis.
6. Price your services fairly. Don’t sell yourself short. While many customers are price-sensitive, not all of them are. This especially applies to business or corporate clients – who value time over money. They know that hiring an event planner will ultimately save time and hassle, especially for larger and more complicated corporate events.
Fortunately for you, a new event planner, you won’t need a large capital outlay for expensive equipment or supplies – your smartphone and/or laptop will be your most valuable tools. Focus on a niche, then build your relationships.
Eventually, word-of-mouth will give you a successful event planning business!
I’d love to hear from you.
In the comments below, let me know 3 things you do to WOW your event clients.