How to Attract Clients to an Event Planning Business in Pittsburgh

event planning

When people are getting ready to host an event, is your event planning business on their radar, or are they too focused on doing things themselves to even think about you?

While many people are aware that event planning businesses exist, they aren’t necessarily aware of why it’s important to hire one.

Some believe it would be cheaper to handle things themselves, others may have an “if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself” mindset, and others simply don’t know what aspects of the event you can handle or why it’s better to have you do it.

Even if you tell them what you do, that may not be enough. People don’t care that you’re an event planner. They care about their event.

If you want people to hire you, you need to help them understand why they and their event need your services.

Your first step is to understand your ideal client.

For someone to choose to spend money on you, they need to understand how you’ll make hosting and preparing for the event easier for them, and how the event itself will be better because you helped put it together.

If the event has a goal or intention behind it, like raising funds or making sales, you also need to help them see that the results of the event will be better because you were involved.

In order to communicate these important selling points, you need to know who your ideal client is, what challenges they’re facing, and why the event is important to them. Are they:

  • Business owners who are trying to sell as many cheap tickets as possible, so they can present a high-ticket upsell to hundreds of people?
  • Couples who are planning their wedding day?
  • Charities with a fundraising goal to meet?
  • Companies that want to show their appreciation to their employees and/or clients, and to keep their loyalty?
  • Groups that enjoy having an annual get-together?

Each of these people will have different needs for the event, challenges in planning it themselves, and desires for what they want to experience or accomplish through it.

When you know what those needs, challenges and desires are, you’re better equipped to speak about the exact reasons why they can’t or shouldn’t do it without you, and how you can improve their experience before, during and after the event.

The more clearly and specifically you can communicate who your ideal client is, the more people will trust you, be drawn to you, and be able to think of potential clients who might need your help.

To help you understand why this is the case, I’ll give you an example:

Let’s say you’re a six-figure business coach, and you want to host a three-day event in which your goal is to sell twenty tickets to your ten thousand-dollar program.

The first event planner you talk to says, “I do all kinds of events. Weddings, employee appreciation days, birthday parties… oh, you want to do a business event? Sure, I can do that, too.”

The second says, “I primarily serve business owners who want to fill the room with motivated buyers and sell high-ticket items. I make sure my clients’ attendees have an amazing experience at the event, so they’re motivated to work with the host’s company again, and I also have a great AV lady who can create a high-quality recording of the event, which you can sell as an additional product.”

Which one would you choose to plan your event? I’m willing to bet you’d choose the latter, even if he charged more, because his skills are better suited to your needs, and he’s already demonstrated that he understands what you want and has a plan for improving your results.

How do you help people see that they need event planning help?

Here are a few questions and facts you can use to distinguish your event planning business from your competition, and to show people that hiring you is better than doing it on their own:

  1. Are they trying to make money through this event, either directly through sales, or indirectly through customer loyalty and employee retention? If so, they’ll probably get a better return on their investment if the event goes smoothly and everyone has a great time.
  2. Are they recording the event for promotional, product creation, or memory-preserving purposes? If so, can you provide high-quality audio-video services, or bring in someone who can?
  3. Do you have strategies and techniques for improving their results, like ways to keep children entertained and out of trouble during weddings, or ways to increase attendance and sales during business events?
  4. What challenges do people tend to run into while planning events themselves or using inferior event planning services?
  5. What kinds of items, plans or arrangements do the events you specialize in tend to need, that your clients might have overlooked?
  6. How much is it costing them to plan the event themselves, in terms of lost time, inferior results, or over-paying for services you could have gotten them at a better price? Make sure they understand all of the costs, including time spent, money wasted, sales lost, and the loss of reputation and referrals that can result from an event that leaves attendees disappointed instead of dazzled.

How do you find people who need an event planning professional?

Now that you’ve established who you’re marketing to and what to say to them, it’s time to actually find those people and start connecting with them.

Here are three of the top strategies for marketing your event planning business:

Strategy #1: Referrals

Referral marketing is one of the best marketing strategies in the world.

While most marketing techniques require you to guide your leads through a journey from being total strangers to trusting you enough to buy from you, referral marketing lets you inherit the “know, like and trust” that the referral source has already built up, often enabling you to go straight to making a sale.

Your best sources of referrals are people who have already used and loved your services, and businesses that serve your ideal client in a way that complements but doesn’t compete with your offering.

Getting referrals from clients:

To get more referrals from your clients, start by doing everything in your power to ensure that those clients are impressed by your service. Pay close attention to their instructions, goals and requests, and do everything in your power to give them and their attendees the best experience possible.

After the event, ask them what they thought of your service, and if there’s anything they’d like to see improved.

If the feedback is negative, thank them for their advice and fix the problem. And if the feedback was positive, ask them if they’re willing to help their friends and colleagues to get the same great experience.

If they are willing, tell them what kind of people you specialize in working with, and give them a script or email they can tweak and use. Most people can’t explain your business as well as you can, so you’ll get better results if you help them to know how to describe your services.

Getting referrals from businesses:

Once you’ve chosen your ideal client and event type, consider what other services they might need for the event.

Weddings often need catering, a cake, dresses, and decorations.

Business gatherings need audio-visual services, space in which to hold the event, food and accommodations for the attendees if it spans more than a few hours, and possibly printing services for handouts.

Take a few minutes to list the services your chosen event type needs, then look for those types of businesses in the geographical areas in which you work.

Then, see if you can arrange discounts for your clients and referral commissions for yourself, and offer a commission to your referral partners for any clients they send your way.

Strategy #2: Reviews

68% of Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising survey respondents said they trust online consumer opinions, which makes opinions shared on the web the third most trusted source of information about products.

Reviews are also important because they help your business to rank higher in search engines.

The better the results people get from an engine, the more likely they are to keep using it. So it’s in search engines’ best interests to show the most desirable results first, and reviews are one of the tools they use to identify the best businesses to display.

When your customers are happy, ask if they’d be willing to leave a review on your website, and give them links to any profiles you have on directories and citation sites.

If there’s a chance that they’re too busy to write a review themselves, offer a pre-written review based on your experience with them, and encourage them to tweak it as they wish and use it.

If you aren’t sure how to get your customers to leave reviews, onCOREventures provides more information on how to get positive reviews and preempt negative ones in their article on the subject.

Strategy #3: Education-based marketing

When people want to know how to plan an event, what they need for a certain type of event, or what help is available for designing and running it, they’ll often turn to search engines for answers.

If you provide the information they seek, using the same phrases they’re typing into the search bar, your business has a much better chance of showing up in their search results.

Education-based marketing also helps people to trust you enough to spend money on you, because it shows them that you know what you’re talking about, and it gives you a chance to educate them about why it’s better to hire a professional than to try to do it all themselves.

So consider what kinds of questions your potential clients ask and what information they search for online, then create articles, videos, blog posts, social posts, and other valuable, informative content to answer those inquiries.

They might not buy on the first try, but don’t give up too soon.

Many business owners and salespeople give up after only one or two tries, but it can often take five or more contacts before a person warms up to you enough to make a purchase.

The path from being a total stranger who knows nothing about your business, to getting to know, like and trust you, then eventually trying your offering, making a purchase, buying a larger package, and referring other clients to you, is an often unpredictable journey.

It’s important to know how to guide people through that journey to becoming loyal clients, and to devote time to learning about client attraction from people who have already created the success you hope to enjoy.

Want to get more referral partners, hot leads, and long-term clients?

Now you know how to attract more clients to your event planning business, and why referrals are one of the best ways to get new customers.

Your next step is to meet more potential clients, and to get more people to refer clients to you.

If you want to get more referrals and leads, and to turn more of those leads into high-paying repeat clients, I invite you to join us in our next BNI meeting.

For a take on how she created her Pittsburgh based event planning business please visit the link on the page below to Sarah Joy Mackenzie’s video on how the has grounder visit with the help o her BNI chapter.

coaches wanted


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