You may have been flush with clients in 2015, but what will the new year bring for your event planning business? Now is the time to assess your marketing efforts and think about what to tweak, add, or drop completely. If your marketing could use a refresh for the new year, consider incorporating these eight tips to help you spread the word about your business.
1. Get your business cards in shape
For the owner of a small business, it’s imperative to have business cards available at all times. You never know whom you might run into at the grocery store, the gym, or your child’s school.
Even with so much of communication being digital these days, a well-designed paper business card can leave a good first impression with potential clients. Work with an experienced designer to create a card that’s dressed to impress.
2. Make sure your website is up to speed
Once your potential clients return to their offices with your business card in hand, they’re likely to check you out online. Despite the rise of social media, you still need your own website with a URL that reflects your business name.
Your site doesn’t have to be fancy or vast, but it should look modern. Make sure the information you present is complete and provides a thorough picture of your services and experience.
3. Review your social media presence
And yes, even with your website up and running, you also need at least a basic presence on the major social media outlets. Many people live in Facebook these days, and you need a page where potential customers can connect and leave comments and recommendations. Don’t forget other platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
To make your social media sites more visible and impressive, add some content on a regular basis that reflects the types of projects you’re working on and general information of interest to your clients.
4. Polish your networking skills
Most business owners don’t love it, but networking is necessary for making contacts and growing your business. For most event planners, networking and word-of-mouth rank among the top methods for building a loyal client base.
In addition, networking with prospective vendors — including hotel managers, graphic designers, and caterers — helps you build a running list of professionals you can call on when you need assistance. Take a deep breath, smile and start talking to people, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a networking pro.
5. Consider creative advertising
Advertising in some form is critical for building your event planning business. The popularity of online advertising has increased significantly in recent years and can be quite effective at driving traffic to your website, but offline advertising remains a viable option as well.
Print ads with local and regional newspapers and magazines can be a cost-effective way of getting your name seen. Advertising in targeted business publications is another method with a proven track record; consider purchasing an ad in local business publications or in your chamber of commerce directory.
6. Leverage satisfied customers
The longer you work in the event planning field, the more likely it is that you’ll have clients who are willing to sing your praises publicly. It may seem daunting at first to ask for testimonials that you can use throughout your marketing efforts, but the potential payoff is well worth it.
Marketing today is all about stories — how your product or service positively affected someone’s business, for instance. Choose five or so of your best clients and ask if they’d be willing to write several paragraphs explaining what worked well for them. If one or more of your clients doesn’t enjoy writing, ask to “interview” them, write the testimonial and have your client sign off.
7. Create a "real" brochure
For many businesses, brochures have gone the way of telegrams. But with nearly everything digital these days, a well-designed, informative brochure can help you stand out.
Your brochure must be professionally designed, and it must use professional photography only. Handing out a printed piece that’s not of the highest quality can do more harm than good, so plan to spend a sizeable chunk of your marketing budget on production.
8. Get familiar with snail mail
Direct mail is another method that can have significant impact these days because fewer businesses are doing it. Once you have your beautiful, professionally produced brochure in hand, consider mailing it out to a select list of recipients. Marketing directors in your area — who often are responsible for planning events — are a great starting point.
To ring in the new year, renew your commitment to marketing
Even if your business went like gangbusters in 2015, it’s important to continue strengthening your marketing visibility in the coming year. By refreshing your business cards, website, brochures, and other marketing collateral, you can keep your sales funnel full of existing, new and prospective clients all year long.
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