6 Secret Ways to Book More Event Planner Jobs
Ok, so maybe not “secret” but definitely less widely used! If you’re an event planner and are looking to book more paying clients, follow these 6 tips and you’ll be well on your way to a fully booked roster!
1. Use appointment booking software on your website
Here’s the thing. People are lazy. The easier you make it for them to get in touch with you and book an initial client meeting, the more of those meetings you’ll end up having. Millennials are now at a stage in their lives where they’re going to seek out event planners, but this demographic HATES picking up the phone. If they can simply click on an app within your website and book an appointment with you without any hassle, they’ll do it.
These programs are quick and easy to set up: you enter the dates and times when you’re available for client meetings, and then clients are able to book an open time slot within that program. The program will even send both you and the client a confirmation email, and a reminder email about upcoming appointments.
2. Don’t be afraid to go corporate
There are way fewer corporate event planners out there than party planners and wedding planners. If you want to expand your client base and are looking for a cool market to get into, try corporate event planning. This doesn’t mean you have to change your business model or start learning how to plan 2,000-attendee conferences!
There are a lot of small businesses out there who would greatly appreciate the help of a certified event planner when it comes to company retreats, annual general meetings, or annual holiday parties. Usually planning for these events fall onto a junior staff member or an administrative assistant at these companies. Marketing your services toward business owners (or even to administrative assistants themselves!) is a great way to expand your business and get more work in the event industry.
3. Partner with the right people
There are some businesses and professionals in your area who will naturally attract the same type of clients as you. You can gain a ton of new clients simply by having these professionals promote your business to their clients, in exchange for promoting their services to your own clients. This is an extremely effective (not to mention mutually beneficial!) way of gaining brand exposure and more clients as a result. And yet, surprisingly few event planners bother to forge these relationships.
The types of professionals you can partner with include:
- Makeup artists
- Caterers, bakeries, etc.
- DJs and Local entertainers
- Wedding officiants
- Popular local venues
4. Set up planning contracts with smaller venues
Find some local restaurants, bars, community centers, museums, etc. that regularly rent out space for special events. Not all these venues have in-house event planners; especially the smaller or family-owned businesses!
Venues will often receive inquiries to rent spaces from individuals who haven’t even thought of hiring an event planner to help them out. When those customers are in contact with the venue, your services can be offered as an “all-inclusive package”. The venue would offer the client an option which includes “full event planning by a certified event planner” for an extra cost. The venue would then put you in touch with the client, and would also pay you directly for your services, based on rates that you’ve previously agreed upon.
The Caveat: When you set up these contracts, you’ll be expected to be available for any business they send your way. So be realistic about the number of contracts and clients you can take on. Refusing a client who’s sent your way through this type of contract is basically a guarantee that your reputation will take a hit.
5. Attend community events
As an event planner, you know how important networking can be. But networking doesn’t have to be just “among professionals”. Put yourself out there at local community events. Attend fairs, charity dinners, the local rib fest, etc. and talk to people.
You don’t have to be “in their face” with trying to sell your services. But in making acquaintances and casually mentioning to people (when appropriate and not forced) that you’re an event planner, it can often open up word-of-mouth referrals. Often you can fall into conversations of “oh! My sister is planning a baby shower. I should give her your card!” This is an extremely low-risk (and free!) marketing tactic. Just carry some business cards with you at all times, and go out there and meet people!
6. Keep in touch with past clients
It’s easy to think of event planning clients as “one-offs”. Especially if you’re planning a retirement party or some other event that the client is unlikely to repeat any time soon. But past clients can be your best future clients AND your best referrals for new clients. You have addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of all your past clients. Put them to good use! Set up a “follow up” schedule to reach out to past clients, but do it in a meaningful way.
Don’t just send them an obvious form letter (or worse, email) that screams “It took me 45 seconds to send this to you and 100 people just like you”. Instead, carve out a few times a year to reach out in a way they’ll remember. The one-year anniversary after the event is a perfect excuse for a phone call, or (even better!) to send them a small memento of the event – maybe a framed photograph with a hand-written card.
Reaching out around the holidays is also a great idea, and non-invasive – everyone appreciates holiday cards! Again, the key here isn’t to aggressively sell your services. Be genuine and caring. Clients will take the next steps themselves.