Build Your Network – Always be networking. Almost everyone you meet could need help planning a special event sometime in the future. Your event planning network shouldn’t just include vendors and other support services, although those are definitely relationships to nurture. A healthy network connects friends, family, former business associates, vendors, people you meet on vacation, the shop owner down the street, you get the picture.
Absolutely everyone you know should know what your business has to offer. You don’t need to be obnoxious about it; just think about how many times someone has asked you what you do for a living. Simply answer the question with a little detail. If you network naturally, you will begin to build connections with the people who need your services, people who can tell others about your services and people who can help you deliver fantastic special events.
Specialize – Choose a market and focus your efforts. What interests you most and best suits your skills? Glossy corporate fundraisers? Destination weddings? Multi-venue events complete with entertainment and excursions? It might sound better to specialize at whatever the next person asks for, but it really isn’t a smart way to grow. Being the best at what your chosen market needs is what builds a business.
Find out who needs what you do best and then focus your marketing their direction. What publications and websites do they flock to? What trends are hot? What do they expect for their event dollars? Become an information-gathering laser beam, zooming in on your ideal market, learning everything you can about what they want and how to deliver it.
Learn How to Market Online – Starting an event planning business in this day and age means having an online presence. Clear back in 2011, 86% of consumers surveyed by Inc. Magazine were doing online searches before they purchased. Those numbers can only have grown.
Creating a logo, website and other marketing materials should be part of any business today. Adding a strong online marketing program (think Google AdWords, keyword rich content, valuable information for your website visitors) gives web searchers a place to go when they need an event planner. It also expands your reach to out of town folks coming into your area to host special events.
Gather Customer Feedback – While we’re talking about marketing, online and otherwise, there’s a habit you’ll need to learn to help grow your event planning business. Learn to always ask for feedback from your customers, either in written form, through your website or in response to an email. Brides-to-be, corporate event managers or non-profit executives are more likely to hire your wedding or event planning business if other customers have had good experiences.
Use your customer feedback in your marketing to build your reputation, because, as we’ll discuss in a moment, that’s the foundation of your business. Having a good supply of positive comments to share with potential customers can go a long way to closing a contract.
Protect Your Reputation – Nothing kills a new business faster than a reputation for not delivering as advertised. In the event planning industry, the planner who fails to keep events running seamlessly can’t expect to stay in business long. That’s what we do, right? We keep things running behind the scenes, even when unforeseen obstacles pop up in our paths. It’s what clients are willing to pay us good money for, and that’s what we have to deliver, every time.
Do what it takes to build your reputation as someone who can be trusted. Let your clients know you take their events as seriously as you would your own wedding. This is another non-negotiable when starting an event planning business – decide from the beginning to be reliable and always deliver first-rate service.
Starting an event planning business is an exciting adventure. Build on that positive energy by constantly networking, focusing on your niche market, learning to market your business online, gathering great feedback and protecting your precious reputation.