How to Find Your Perfect Event Niche
If you want to stand out from the event planning crowd, you need a niche. But how do you know your niche is the right one? How do you even find one? It’s easier than you think.
The riches are in the niches is a popular phrase, especially in today’s solopreneur-driven world. It’s difficult to differentiate yourself from all of the noise if you don’t commit to an area of specialty and become known as a thought leader in it. But how do you decide what that area should be? And doesn’t that mean you will have fewer clients?
Not if you select it and market it properly. But you do need to decide your area of expertise carefully so that it is sustainable.
Finding Your Event Niche
Becoming a niche expert is important in differentiating yourself from the crowd of event planners out there. But selecting your niche may take a little thought. Here are a few ways to find yours:
- A previous (career) life. Maybe you worked in healthcare and know exactly what that group needs. Now translate it to event planning.
- An underserved group. The Internet and online communities make it easy to learn about others’ needs. Look for a group (or aspect) that’s underserved in event planning and become their expert.
- Something you’re good at. Look for something you excel at and make that part of your specialty.
- Look at your hobbies and passions to find something that drives you. Now market yourself to work with similar people.
- Something no one else likes or is willing to do. If no one else likes to do it, you’ll have little competition.
Why Differentiate By Niche?
Differentiation is critical for event planners. Since the barrier to entry is minimal, many people are trying their hand at ‘party planning’. They think it will be fun and easy. So the field is quite crowded. From part-time professionals to contractors, full-timers to everyone in between, you must stand out in order land the best clients.
Finding a niche and excelling in it is a strong way to stand out, but it’s not the only one. A few others include:
- Differentiating on price. This sounds like a good idea, offering the best bargain in the business, until you realize the extent to which people will undercut others. Just take a look at the site Fiverr and all the things people are willing to do for nearly half of the minimum wage in the US.
- Differentiating on service. I hate to tell you, but everyone thinks they put the client first. And everyone believes they offer world-class service. I’m not saying you don’t, but it’s a claim that while it sounds great to marketers, everyone is making it. If everyone is differentiating themselves this way, then no one is differentiating themselves using service.
- Differentiating through your team. This is a slow boat to the bottom of the ocean. If you differentiate yourself on a few star team members, unless they are contracted to your business through the end of days, you’ll run into difficulty if they ever choose to leave. And odds are they will at some point unless they are partners in the firm.
- Differentiating through process. If your process is so incredibly different, go ahead. But chances are there is very little you could tell the client about your process that would swing them to go with you over someone else. The process may matter to you but unless you can show it consistently produces better results and more sell-out events, the process doesn’t matter. The client cares more about ROI.
- Differentiating through expertise. Again, this is a sliding commodity. Today’s team is rich in experience. Tomorrow’s team might not be. Plus, experience doesn’t hold the weight it once did. Sure, if we’re talking about auditioning a brain surgeon, you want experience. But if an event planner with only a year experience was showing amazing results with every event, a client will worry less about years and more about return.
So while there are multiple things to differentiate by, the one that matters is the one that yields results. Niche expertise not only does that but it also shows a degree of personalization that these other methods lack.
Personalization and the Niche
Remember the intro song from the television show Cheers? It spoke to everyone wanting to go where people knew their name. Now we don’t care whether it’s people or the Pandora app. We want the services we use to be customized to our needs and our preferences. And we want them to ‘get’ us.
When you offer niche services you are telling your clients that you understand them and their needs like no general event planner can. You’ve been there and have experience that translates directly to their industry, size, etc.
From a content marketing and search engine optimization point, it’s also much easier. You can speak directly to one audience and address just their concerns. Sure, you might have different demographics within your niche but it’s much easier than trying to personalize a message to groups with nothing in common. You’ll likely place higher in search because you’ll be using more direct language that appeals to that group. Plus, when people come to visit your site, they’ll immediately see that you are aligned with their needs, solutions, and concerns.
Narrowing the Niche
With the many resources out there, you can certainly select your own niche by choosing something arbitrary and learning everything there is to know. But it will be just a little easier if you use one of these qualifiers to find your event planning niche:
A Previous (Career) Life
Is there something you are already an expert in? Maybe an industry you worked in or one you have a personal connection through a friend or loved one? If so, you may be uniquely suited to work with that group. Maybe your spouse is in medicine and is always complaining about the medical society’s annual conferences. You have an inside track on how to improve them from the physician’s standpoint. Or maybe you used to work in a hobby industry and know what they want at a trade show.
Capitalize on that experience. With an industry niche, referrals are extremely important. As you are establishing yourself as an expert serving this group, make sure you request testimonials and other word of mouth amplification that will help you build your client base.
An Underserved Group
If you walk into any business and ask the owner why they went into it, you’ll get a mixed answer. Some will tell you it’s their passion but the business-driven business owner will tell you they capitalized on a need in the area. They noticed there wasn’t a dry cleaner or a hardware store in miles and so they opened one.
If you recognize an underserved group in event planning, look into serving it. For instance, sororities and fraternities all have annual meetings. Who plans them? Maybe it could be you.
It needn’t be an underserved group that you work with either. Instead, you could look to serve a specific need of all groups like last-minute events, international ones, beach conferences, or any other niche need that someone may have. It may be a little more difficult to gain repeat customers in this type of niche, but referrals will still work well as should your attempts to garner more traction through organic search if you find a specific need that is of interest but under served.
Something You’re Good At
It’s likely you’ve received a compliment or two in your professional lifetime. Think about what could be a natural fit for those skills. How can you use them best? How can you turn those skills into a niche?
Figure out what it is that you do or know better than most people and then become and market yourself as an expert specializing in that. For instance, maybe you’re an incredible networker and you can specialize in networking events from an organization/planning side and an education side of teaching people how to network.
Hobbies and Passions: Find Something that Drives You
If you have a hobby or a passion think about how you can apply that in niche fashion. For instance, if you enjoy writing, perhaps you can plan events for writers. Taking your hobbies and passions and marketing yourself to work with similar people will be a natural fit and extremely rewarding.
Something No One Else Likes or Is Willing to Do
There have been many a success story written about people who were willing to do things that no one else was, like the man who shoveled horse dung out of the streets at the turn of the century and sold it to mushroom farmers to fertilize their crops. He saw a need and filled it by doing something no one else wanted to. If no one else likes – or is willing – to do it, you’ll have little competition. You’ll make a name for yourself and because of that you’ll be able to name your price.
Niching Is Only the Beginning
Selecting a niche to work with is only the beginning. As personalization increases, niching will become an expectation much in the same way physicians select a specialty. Yes, some people will still be in general practice but those in high demand will specialize.
In a niche, you will be expected to:
- Know your niche and keep up with its members needs
- Participate in the social media platforms that they do
- Expand your niche as their interests expand
- Market to your niche
- Cultivate a referral culture in your event planning business
The last one is probably the least obvious but without it, you won’t succeed. Most new business people fear turning clients away so they say yes to everyone. If you fall into this category, know that it is interfering with your ability to be effective. For every mediocre client you say yes to, you’re giving up space you could be using for an ideal client.
But still, many businesses hesitate to narrow down prospects because they worry that means less potential clients. It does from a numbers perspective but it doesn’t matter. Let’s take a look at keywords to understand this concept. You can take a keyword and by using analytics tools see just how often someone searched for that term. In pay per click, some terms are more expensive than others to place for because they are popular searches. But that doesn’t speak to their value. In order to decide whether that’s something you want to pay for or not, you want to look at conversion rate. If there are only 1,200 searches of that term per year, but a large percentage convert, then you would be wise to buy for that term.
The same is true for niches. There may not be as many people looking for them but if those who are looking, are serious clients, that’s all you care about. You don’t want thousands of inquiries who want RFPs only to vanish in the night. You want people to self-select before they ask you to give of your most precious commodity–time.
When you serve a niche, visitors will come to your website, read your materials, and decide right away whether you are the ideal event planner for them or not. That means more qualified leads are making your phone ring, and the less qualified leads are going to waste someone else’s time.
If you’re trying to make a name for yourself in event planning, you must differentiate yourself from the competition. The only effective way to do that is to embrace a niche and align yourself with a specific group or policy. To do so, helps you stand out, rank higher in organic search because you can target your content more effectively, and speak to the specific challenges the group you support faces.
There are many ways to find your niche and the specifics will depend on your calling. If you work with a niche, please leave us a message in the comments as to how you chose your audience.
Additional Reading About the Power of Niches
The Ultimate Guide to Starting an Event Planning Business
13 Honest Truths Why You’re Not Earning the Event Planner Salary You Want
13 Pricing Strategies for Your Event Planning Business
The Event Planners Ultimate Guide to Sales and Prospecting
Plan awesome events & boost your career
Join over 60,000 subscribers that use EventMB to stay on top of How to's, Trends & Event Technology.