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In a pitch you have a handful of minutes to convince someone they should place their event in your hands. Every one of those minutes counts. If you didn’t land a recent pitch, you might be wondering why. Here are the most common reasons.
Presenting your event plan for a potential client is a thrill, but learning you didn’t make the cut can be devastating. Turn a tragedy into a triumph by learning from your event pitch mistakes. Here are some of the most common:
You Didn’t Understand Your Audience
There’s quite a bit of cyberstalking you can get away with legally these days so there is no reason not to know something about the people you’re pitching to and their event audience. You need to cater each pitch to them. Never have a one-size-fits-all event pitch.
You Disrespected Their Budget
Anyone can create event magic with an unlimited budget, but that’s simply not heard of. Respect their budget. Don’t stretch it because “for another thousand dollars you can do something really cool.” Instead, show them something really cool in their budget, or better yet, under it.
You Didn’t Lead Strong
Never start off slow expecting to build up speed. You need to hit as hard as you can the moment you walk in. (Or even before you meet the decision makers. You never know who’s in the elevator with you. Exude confidence and positive energy as soon as you enter the potential client’s office.) Don’t save your best for last. Hook them right away otherwise their heads will be bent over their cell phones.
Your Language Wasn’t Appropriate
Being an event planner is walking a fine line between being friendly and open, and coming off too bubbly, especially for serious events. Match your tone to the type of event it is. Don’t use fluff words that lack meaning. Imagine you’re only allotted a small amount of words to convey why you are the right choice. Don’t waste any of them.
Too Much Fluff Not Enough Substance
If you’re talking about past events don’t use generalities like, “it was a really good event.” Use data to show how you increased sign-ups, for instance. Few people care what you thought of the event. They want to know what the data shows and what attendees thought.
Your Pitch Looked and Sounded Like Everyone Else’s
Event planning takes organizational skills and creativity. If your pitch sounds and looks like everyone else’s you’re not illustrating your creativity. Incorporate multiple types of media and look for ways to stand out in your presentation.
You Put the Wrong Ideas in Their Heads
Often nervous presenters will shoot down their own ideas before they are presented. By doing this, they feel like they’re getting to the point before the client does but they’re really placing ideas in the clients’ heads; ideas that are sabotaging the pitch. For instance, leading with “I know some of you are concerned about the host city’s safety issues…” is effective only if they really were. If they weren’t worried about it, you’ve just made it a concern.
You Didn’t Listen
Prospective clients will tell you what they want from the event and you need to follow that as closely as you can. In addition to event specs, listen to the language your potential client uses in describing it. Mirror that language by employing those same words throughout the presentation. These things are important to them so they should be to you as well.
You Didn’t Respect Their Time
If you came in late, were unprepared, took a call, ran over, or any other misuse of time you showed the client you didn’t respect them. Always arrive early. Always respect the time allotted and always be ready to start immediately. You don’t want a long set up time for your presentation, no matter how creative it is, because they’ll be on their phones while they wait for you and you won’t get them back.
You Didn’t Use Storytelling
You need to help them see your vision for the event and you need to connect with them in a very short time. Storytelling is a great way to do this. Pepper your presentation with examples from past work framed in the form of a story. People are more apt to listen to a story because they want to know how it will end.
You Didn’t Use Exciting Language
Just as a writer will change pacing and language to hold the interest of the reader, you need to do the same. A dramatic pause or creating visuals through words can make a lasting impression on your client. Help them envision what you have in mind in delicious detail and they’ll remember you long after the other presentations.
Your Presentation Got Lost
If you gave an event pitch sandwiched between a host of others, it may have gotten lost and confused the competition. If you can’t ensure you’re the first or last pitch, you need to be memorable. This includes what you wear, how you present, and the conversations you have. They have big expectations on how memorable their event will be. You want them to feel the same about you.
You Didn’t Show You Were a Problem Solver
Anyone can create a plan for throwing a nice party. But your best event planners are ready for anything. They are creative problem solvers who work hard and find solutions. You need to show past examples of your problem solving abilities. If they have confidence in your ability to do that, you’re already above the competition.
You Didn’t Include Before/After and Social
Events aren’t a finite point in time now. You need to think about building excitement beforehand and keeping it going over the course of the year through social media. If you didn’t include that in your pitch, you can be assured someone else did.
You Didn’t Take Advantage of the End
You must have a strong closing to your pitch as that may be the last time they talk to you until they’ve made a decision. Don’t end abruptly asking if they have any questions. They’ve been in the passive activity of listening for some time now and then you require them to get back into an active situation. The natural inclination is to say “no” in this situation.
Instead, open up the conversation and ask them something they can’t answer with a yes or a no, then review what you’ve covered, and outline next steps. Follow up with a thank you card to everyone involved in the decision-making process and reference something you talked about in your presentation, or in passing, so they are very clear who the card is coming from.
If you didn’t land that event pitch, it’s not the end of the world; but if you don’t use that experience to improve future pitches it is wasted time. Review your performance, assess how it met (or didn’t meet) your audience’s needs, and use that information to improve future pitches. Now get back out there!