20 Reasons Why Your Event Clients Suck
Building your event business is critical to paying the bills but if you’re selecting the wrong clients, numbers won’t matter. Attract the right clients and you’ll create a business you love. Attract the wrong ones and you might not be in business much longer.
A successful event business is about more than just numbers. Yes, numbers make the difference between a red balance sheet and one that’s in the black but there’s more to building an event business than just getting people who will pay you money. If getting bookings for events was all that mattered, everyone would be in business for themselves.
However, the right type of client is as important as having projects that pay the bills because without good clients, you’re more likely to return to working for someone else. The wrong kind of client can be one heck of a headache so you want to make sure you attract the kind that doesn’t suck.
1. Attracting Your Ideal Client Is More Important Than Attracting a Client
If you don’t know who you want, you won’t have any success in marketing to that person, so the first step in wooing clients that don’t suck is to understand what you want. What types of groups do you enjoy? How much freedom do you want in creating the event? Know who you want to work with and speak only to them.
2. Saying Yes to the Wrong Client, Means Saying No to the Right One
You only have so many hours in your day. Every project and client you choose, takes your time. If you say yes to one that isn’t your ideal, you’re taking the spot away from someone who is, and that someone could be the next email you receive. Pass on clients who aren’t your ideal. When you get your marketing refined to target your ideal client, you won’t need to worry about the others.
3. Fire the Mr. and Ms. Wrong Client
If you’ve already taken on clients who were not your ideal, finish up those events and walk away. It’s easy to agree to do another job for your less-than-ideal clients instead of worrying about where your next client will come. If you feel that pressure, refer (again) to the concept mentioned above.
4. Refine Your Marketing to Attract Your Ideal
If I want to catch a catfish, the lure barely matters. You can stick some pepperoni on the end of the line and you’ll get bites. But if I want a marlin, I’m going to need something that will excite that regal fish, something energetic and alive. The same is true of your ideal client. Figure out the niche you want to serve and use the appropriate bait.
5. Don’t Be all Things to all People
When I work with businesses to tell their story I ask them who they serve and what problem they solve. More often than not, the business person’s reply is “Well, everyone.” No, you don’t. Not everyone. You can’t. You can’t market to everyone without weakening your message. Most people think choosing a niche is limiting. It’s not. It’s called specializing and specialists are worth a lot more than generalists. Ask a neurosurgeon.
6. Perfect Your Elevator Speech
If you answer the question of what you do with “I’m an event planner,” you’re hitting a line drive to first when you could be going for home. Instead answer with something like, “I help medium-sized businesses make indelible impressions on clients and increase revenue through user’s conferences.” Now, I’m listening.
7. Network Online and Off
Join a networking group, in person or virtual, preferably both. Be helpful, don’t sell.
8. Increase Your Digital Marketing
You must have a professional website, social media presence (don’t forget the visual sites like Pinterest and Instagram), and a blog. These are no longer optional. They act as a front desk/receptionist even when you’re not “in” the office.
9. Provide Resources
Create downloadable resources for clients and potential clients, like an event checklist. If you’re worried people will use the checklist instead of your services, you’re not providing enough value. Make these resources free for the cost of an email.
10. Build Your List
Using the step above as well as subscribers to your blog and visitors to your site, give people the opportunity to stay connected with you through a newsletter. This will keep you top of mind and build your reputation in the industry.
11. Do Guest Posts or Podcast Interviews
There are plenty of fledgling blogs and podcasts. People are always looking for content and guests. You won’t get paid but it will help get your name out there. Just make sure that you agree to do these things only for blogs and podcasts that appeal to your ideal client.
12. Participate on Social Media
“Participate” does not mean drip (only) your content. Participation means active conversation. Yes, content is good but interactions are what will bring new clients to your virtual doorstep. Try participating in Twitter chats and reading other people’s blogs and commenting meaningfully on them. Remember that ideal client? Find them on social media and get to know them.
13. Sell a Solution, Not Just a Service
If you don’t have a problem you are solving, you are a minnow in a very large sea. As an event planner you could be rallying against “ho-hum events” or ensure “more revenue, less hassle” for annual conferences. People hire planners because they don’t want to deal with the details. They want the headache to be someone else’s. Show your potential clients how you take those things on so they can get back to business.
14. Always Follow Up
Most people fall flat in this area so it’s easy to stand out. Follow up on referrals, comments, events, compliments, suggestions, contact forms, and any form of communication.
15. Don’t Forget to Write
Most people have dropped the hand-written thank you card but it makes a difference. Use them often and liberally.
16. Ask for Referrals
This is one of the most awkward things for most event planners. It feels forced, but if you are confident in your services you should feel like you are giving each one of your clients an opportunity to help one of their acquaintances out by referring them to you.
17. Create a Referral Engine
This topic could fill a whole book. And guess what? It does.
18. Look for Ways to Work with Others
Peanut butter and jelly. Chocolate and peanut butter. Some things are better together. Think about ways you could work with others for mutual satisfaction and benefit. For instance, a nutritionist might partner with a gym to give her clients a discount, and the gym might have a reciprocal agreement for referrals with the nutritionist. Together they’re getting more clients by offering their clients more value.
19. Take the Right Referral
Remember the importance of choosing the right client and marketing to them? If you are taking on the wrong clients and then asking for referrals you’re going to end up with more of the wrong clients. Think of the referral business like high school cliques. Jocks are generally friends with jocks and nerds with nerds. If you want to do business with nerds, don’t ask the jocks for referrals.
20. Understand What Makes You Different and Use It
What is your value? What do you do differently from other event planners? Know your unique value to a specific type of client and explain it at every chance you get.
If you want more clients who don’t suck in your event business, you need to define what that means. Once you know what you want and who you work well with, cast narrow not wide. Focus in on your ideal and turn away those who don’t fit it. You’ll both be happier in the long run.
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