Corporate Events VS. Social Events: A Planner’s Guide (Part 2)
Last week, our QC Event School tutor, Heather Vickery, shared the similarities between corporate and social events. In part two of her blog series, Heather focuses on the differences between corporate and social events, and shares her tips on how to book more corporate business! Heather is the Owner and Event Director of Greatest Expectations Special Events and Weddings, one of Chicago’s most celebrated event planning and design firms.
Now that you have a firm grasp on what is the same for all types of event planning, let’s talk about what is different for corporate events vs. weddings and social events.
With weddings and social events, there is a great deal of emotion at play — it is an exciting time for everyone, but tends to bring out the worst in many people! I am not sure why this is the case, but it’s true. With corporate events, there is little to no emotional attachment. This is business. The event, even if it is a corporate social event, is not likely to change the course of someone’s life, as it is not something the clients have dreamed of their entire lives.
There are no parents of a bride or groom who will get their feelings hurt if they are not involved in the big day. Trust me when I tell you that this is a good thing. As a wedding planner, I am often called upon to mediate between my clients and their families or friends. While I don’t mind that aspect of my job, it is a delightful relief when working with corporate clients who just want you to make their event happen and have little concern about how it gets done.
With weddings in particular, there is a long history of tradition. Even with modern couples who don’t want to follow in their parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps or same-sex couples who are writing their own wedding rules, there is still some element of tradition.
With corporate events, there are no traditions. Even if it is an event that has happened many times and has “always been done” one way or another, you can switch it up and try new things with ease. This allows for maximum creativity and endless possibilities as an event planner. It is so exciting to really think outside of the box and wow your clients and guests with something that is unique. I truly encourage you to take this opportunity to stretch yourself and really see what you can do.
So now the question is, how do you book more corporate event planning business?
Well, if you are looking for more corporate work, it is important to get out there and look for it. In most cases, it will not come to you and it is often not referral-based. Many companies have in-house event planning staff but are willing to hire contractors on an as-needed basis. A great way to start is by creating a corporate portfolio and a PDF you can easily email or drop off when you make sales calls.
Next, create a list of companies you would like to reach out to and then make a sales plan. But before you make that first call or send that first email, do your research! Do not send an email addressed to “To Whom It May Concern.” Find out who is doing the hiring. As a business owner, I can tell you that nothing bothers me more than someone sending an email, asking for a job and not addressing me by name. It is not that difficult to find my name and with only a little extra work, you can easily figure out to whom you should be addressing your correspondence.
I promise you, you’ll be way ahead of the competition when you personalize things. To give you a little head start, in the corporate world it is often the HR department or assistants to the big boss(es) who have final say in event planning hires.
Once you have identified who makes the hiring decisions, connect with them! Start making sales calls. Remember that no sale happens outside of a conversation and people hire those they know, trust and like. Build those relationships and continue to tend to them. The seeds you sow are what will help you shore up your corporate event planning business. I always encourage small gifts with sales calls — something clever and creative which demonstrates that you really put thought into it.
But don’t stop there. Make it personal! Get to know the people you want to work with. Remember the small details of their lives. Follow up with them in conversation and ask about personal things. Making people feel remembered and valued is a key component in making a sale. This skill can be used in all types of event planning, so start building those connections now and watch your sales go up!