With the american market in a recession it can be hard to attract new clients and encourage current clients to continue to spend at the same level as they once did. It can be hard to promote products that aren’t necessary but will add something special to events you are planning. A number of years back, I worked in the marketing industry and was a marketing manager for a large global emergency services product sales company. It was the toughest position I have ever held. My job required me to encourage and excite my customers so they would purchase more equipment (both necessary and non-necessary). I was praised for upselling (a term most of you know if you have ever worked any kind of sales job) but it was always hard for me to reconcile the actual needs of the customer (how much can we afford?) with the desire of my company (sell, sell, sell). The key to success is finding the middle ground. As an event planner, you are also a budgeteer, a cheerleader, an advisor, a leader, a listener, and you better have one heck of a creative streak. Thinking outside of the box and having a good sense of reading people’s signals are key to your success. Your clients will come to you because they don’t have the time, desire, creativity, or they need professional help to attain their vision. It is your job to guide them and make the process of the event an enjoyable one. Repeat clients are the ones who recognize your talents, know that you work hard to deliver a finished product, and feel that you make them a priority. They know that you listen to them and will show that appreciation through referrals and repeat business. Don’t underestimate the power of “word of mouth”. It can be your greatest ally or your worst enemy. I’ve searched the internet (business and event planning specific websites and come up with these 10 keys to success in a difficult market:
You must stay current with trends and have a great stockpile of ideas to pull from. Educate yourself online, through conferences, exploring, networking, and printed articles. In event planning and management you do not need to have an accredited degree, but it can help you fast track your career. Employers will expect that through your education you have been trained to step up and take on projects immediately with little or no supervision needed.
An absolute essential in business is the ability to be flexible and resilient. Roll with the punches, don’t let them knock you down. I have never been involved in an event that everything went right. Something always goes wrong or changes, expect it.
You can’t change what other people do, but you can change the way you react to it. Don’t let the small (or large) things ruin your mood or ability to lead, view the problems as challenges to be solved. Make the mountains into mole hills!
4. Choose Wisely.
Choose all the components of your planning and management wisely. From your team, to the design and implementation of the event. Choose reliable professionals you have worked with before or that come highly recommended from personal contacts. A great team can make any event run more smoothly, and good teamwork is essential in creating a united front for your clients to appreciate and view as professional.
5. Comparison shop.
The internet offers an amazing array of products and services. Don’t be afraid to ask your favorite vendors to match or beat prices you find on the same items online, to the prices they give you. You then can share the discount with your clients.
6. Customer Service.
There are an innumerable amount of business’ just like yours. If you don’t provide fast, friendly, efficient customer service-one of your competitors will.
7. The correct proposal.
When writing a bid for an event, know your numbers. Don’t under or over-estimate the costs, or your authority as a specialist will be compromised. Be careful not to make promises you can’t keep. Nothing loses clients faster than not delivering what you have told them was possible.
You and your staff should present a professional front. It is imperative that calls/emails/texts/etc. are answered immediately or returned as soon as possible. When speaking with a client remember to treat them with respect. If your client feels that you are not professional, they are likely to take their business somewhere else. Dress appropriately, communicate respectfully, be on time or early, and don’t make assumptions, let your client become an integral part of the planning process so they have a stake in it.
Make sure to appropriately plan your timeline. Give yourself wiggle room in case something goes wrong, this way you will have more time to find replacements/fixes. Utilize online planning software and calendars to stay organized.
Confidence is essential, and when you have faith in yourself it is scientifically proven to boost your mood and make you more approachable. Keep a positive outlook and treat others kindly, and you will lessen your stress level with your upbeat can-do attitude.
So there are 10 things to think about for your success in the current market. There are a plethora more that I didn’t mention and I encourage you to share some of your favorite tips or ideas for success. As always I welcome your questions or comments, or if you want to share helpful websites/information please feel free!