Archive for the ‘Event’ Category

August 28, 2014 9:24 am

Thinking of Becoming an Event Planner?

Here’s What you Need to Know First

If you’re thinking of becoming an event planner, there are a few things you should know. A job as an event planner or wedding planner always looks like lots of fun in movies and on TV; after all, your work revolves around planning and attending parties, so what’s not to love? The thing is, like most jobs of its kind, it can be a lot of fun, but it’s also always a lot of work. And, as an independent contractor, you have a lot of additional work-related details that you’re responsible for—you don’t necessarily have access to things like employer healthcare, for example, and in addition to the nuts and bolts of the job you’ll also spend a lot of time on administration and other tasks that aren’t quite as enjoyable as planning menus, or helping a bride shop for her wedding dress! For the right kind of person, however, a job as an event or wedding planner is an absolute blast, and a career that will provide a huge amount of professional and personal satisfaction.

thinking of being event planner books

Personal and Professional Attributes and Skills

Enrolling in a course designed to teach you all about the nuts-and-bolts aspects of coordinating weddings and other events is definitely a good way to kick-start your career in this industry, but just as important is having the right mix of skills and personal abilities that will help you make your chosen career a success. So what are some of the essentials?

  1. Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
  2. Exceptional organizational skills—especially because successful event planners are usually working on multiple events at the same time
  3. Time-management and multitasking skills
  4. Be able to visualize the big picture without losing sight of smaller details
  5. The ability to stay calm and in control in a crisis
  6. Be able to quickly recognize and solve problems, and apply creative and unconventional solutions when necessary
  7. Be able to work with all kinds of people
  8. Be prepared to work long hours, including on weekends and public holidays

One of the most important aspects of the job is to have a strong love of and talent for working with people, and the ability to be tactful, patient, and calm with clients, vendors, and suppliers, in all situations. For example, one wedding planner and event coordinator jokingly describes her work as herding cats, telling the future, and reading minds—which speaks to the fact that in any job where you’re working with people to create something to their specifications, many clients don’t always know exactly what they want. Sometimes, that means you have to figure out what a client wants, even though they don’t even know themselves. As well as this, planning an event like a wedding often means trying to please multiple different people all at the same time—the bride and groom, plus two sets of parents, all with different ideas of what they want.

thinking of being event planner bride groom

When it comes to the people aspect of the job, it’s not all about working with clients, however; a single wedding can involve dozens of different vendors, so an event planner also has to build up an extensive network of industry contacts to be able to do their job effectively. This is important because staying competitive in the event-planning industry requires having the right vendor and venue contacts to be able to offer clients plenty of choice and excellent rates. Established wedding planners agree that this is an aspect of the job that absolutely can’t be ignored.

As well as all this, if you’re someone who plans to run your own event planning business, you’ll also need a certain amount of competency in other areas too, such as marketing and advertising, accounting, and an understanding of the relevant legal aspects of the job, such as liability and contract law. With this in mind, it’s definitely a good idea to choose a course that covers all of this essential information.

Event Coordination is a Growth Industry

There are lots of things you need to consider when starting your own business, and one of the most important is whether the industry you’re interested in can actually support you. Is it a growth industry, or will you find that there aren’t enough clients to go round? Luckily, the news is all good for the event planning industry—the US Department of Labor predicts huge growth over the next ten years—a whopping 33% increase, which means it’s the perfect time to enter the industry.

Does this sound like the career for you? Click the button below to learn more about QC’s courses!

 


August 15, 2014 9:00 am

Back to School Giveaway and Sweepstakes

September is just around the corner, and with this in mind, we’re launching our QC Back to School Giveaway and Sweepstakes! From August 15th to September 15th, ALL North American students (in makeup, event, and design) will receive a free QC tote bag when they enroll in the course.

And that isn’t all.

QCLanding

*Tote bags available for North American students only

Whatever country you’re from, every makeup, event, and design student will have the chance to win FREE TUITION after they’ve enrolled in their course. Don’t miss out on your chance to win!

Here’s how to enter:

Step 1

Enroll online or by phone

Step 2

Enter the Free tuition draw

Step 3

Get more chances to win by:

  • Tweeting
  • Posting to the blog
  • Liking our Facebook Page
  • Pinning us

(These are all explained in greater detail once you enter the sweepstakes!)

Step 4

The winner will have his or her tuition FULLY REIMBURSED! This includes shipping fees, your deposit, and your course fee(s)!

Find out more about our Design, Makeup, and Event promotions.


August 8, 2014 9:29 am

Event Planner Alexandra Slawek

In this article we get personal with Alexandra Slawek, one of QC Event School’s new tutors. She opens up about her career, her inspiration, and her recipe for success.

What made you decide to pursue a career as an event planner?alexandra-slawek

I’ve always had an interest in planning and organizing events. The first time I officially organized an event was when I was attending university, and I found I really enjoyed it. When my children had grown up, I found that I had a lot of extra time on my hands. I got a job at the Wedding Pavilion, a one-stop shop wedding venue here in Calgary, as an event manager. I think that’s when I truly fell in love with working with brides and grooms and the whole wedding ambiance. I decided to become certified through QC Event School so I could be more knowledgeable in the field. A year later, I opened my own business!

Tell us about the early years. How did you get your name out there, find clients and hone your craft?

When you’re first starting out, you have to do a lot of trial and error experimenting in terms of what works and what doesn’t for your business. The first way I reached out with my business was hosting a booth at The Bridal Expo. It happens every September in Calgary. I also placed ads in local community magazines and in the Calgary Bridal Guide. I didn’t have a lot of success with these initial endeavors, so I started networking with other wedding industry vendors. That proved much more successful. I also attended many workshops and conferences to get better ideas on running my business. My website has attracted a number of clients, so making sure it is top-notch is very important. Finally, I became a member of the Calgary Bride Association, which has helped me get my name out there and connect with other wonderful wedding planners.

What was your “big break”?

I think my “break” happened when I befriended another wedding planner. She was incredibly supportive and hired me on several occasions to work her events. I got lots of exposure and experience that way. Last year, I took part in a wedding show, “A Spoonful of Vintage”, put on by a team of vendors that specialize in vintage décor, dresses and photography. I designed a Downton Abbey table and that particular piece put me “on the map”, so to speak.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I am often inspired by my brides and their creative imaginations. I spend time on Pinterest and other social media sites watching for new trends.  I also network with other wedding planners to share ideas and collaborate.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Any past career decisions you would change?

Yes, I would absolutely do it all over again! I really love it. The only thing I would change is the way I went about advertising at first. I’d put a lot more time into conducting research to determine what kind of advertising works for my target market. That way, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time or money on something that proved to be ineffective. It was an expensive learning experience, to say the least.

Alex Tutor 1

What are some “golden rules” you believe every single event planner should follow?

Here is a list of personal rules I follow:

  1. Always answer emails within 24-48 hours
  2. Return phone calls and texts ASAP
  3. Stand by your word. If I say I will do something for someone, I always do.
  4. Listen more to what other vendors have to say rather than talk about your own experiences. You can learn much more by listening!
  5. Maintain a solid reputation through integrity and honesty in business. I have found that having a good reputation is the key to other vendors promoting me.

Do you have any final words of wisdom for QC’s students?

To QC students: be passionate about your work! Clients love to work with people who are enthusiastic about their work and learn to trust in their passion. Be honest and have integrity in your work, and always be kind and respectful to other industry vendors.

Best of luck in your studies at QC!

Alex is a tutor in QC’s Event and Wedding Planning and Event Decor courses. For more information on these courses, head over to QC Event School.


andrea-delucia-image

In this article we get personal with Andrea DeLucia, one of QC Event School’s new tutors. She opens up about her career, her inspiration, and her recipe for success.

What made you decide to pursue a career in event planning?

Event planning allows me to be creative and work with people, which I have always loved, while maintaining a flexible schedule. In the early days of my career, flexibility was so important to me in terms of raising my children. I also found that I was very passionate about putting together events through from concept to design. It was something that came very naturally to me and I had a lot of confidence in my abilities.

Tell us about your early years. How did you get your name out there, find clients, and hone your craft?

To be honest, my early years were difficult. I was unsure about what I wanted to do and about how to transition between careers.  I wasn’t sure how to get started but I knew that talent alone wasn’t enough. Teaming up with the right vendors helped to get my name out there. I discovered clients through word-of-mouth and by experimenting with different advertising methods. I found that once I completed an event, people would talk about its success. These recommendations helped to build my clientele, and still help even today. Obviously, I had to be relentless with my marketing endeavours and follow-up!

One of event planner Andrea's arrangements at an event.

One of event planner Andrea’s table set-ups.

What was your “big break”?

Realistically, I don’t think my “big break” was a traditional one. I consider it to be more of an inspirational turning point. I attended an event in California a few years after starting my business and I met Preston Baily, a celebrity wedding designer, who has always been a huge inspiration to me. I met so many amazing entrepreneurs and learned so much. The event inspired me to push the limits and really try to make my business known. I made the decision to reach out to UGG Australia, who had made an appearance at the California event. I wanted to see if they would let me do a photo shoot promoting their new UGG boot in their I Do collection. After months of calls and e-mails, I produced an amazing shoot that was featured in ISS magazine (among other publications and blogs). This was the assurance I needed. It confirmed that my hard work and perseverance were paying off.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

This may sound a bit cliché, but my main source of inspiration is my husband and our four children. In my business, I strive to achieve success for them. A lot of other things inspire me, too: colors, great ideas, or client stories. I love to listen to other professionals and learn from their experiences. I am constantly being inspired!

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Any past career decisions you would change?

There are definitely some things I would change if I had to do it all again. My answer, though, is yes. I love what I do and am proud of how far I’ve come. No business is perfect, and the biggest lesson I can take from my experience thus far is that you can’t please everyone. No matter how hard you work, you simply can’t make everyone happy all the time. Being an event coordinator means offering stellar customer service; at the end of the day, you need to make the customer happy. There are some times when that just isn’t going to happen, no matter how hard you work.

One thing I would change if I could go back is the decision to work independently at first. With a partner, you can divide tasks and brainstorm together. Running a business by yourself isn’t always easy. Your success is yours, but so are your failures.

Another one of event planner Andrea's arrangements.

Another one of event planner Andrea’s arrangements.

What are some “golden rules” you believe every event planner should follow?

I believe that every event planner makes her own rules. What works for one may not necessarily work for another. However, there are a few rules that I think we should all live by. Firstly, you must accept that not every client is right for you. If there isn’t a good fit, don’t try to force that connection. The experience should be positive for both sides.

Secondly, never reduce your price or your worth. If a client doesn’t want to pay for quality work, then they should find another planner within their price range. Our time is valuable! Time is money, so don’t devalue your time.

And, finally: be open and don’t get frustrated. As event planners, we are all a team to some degree. Be open to other planners and help them strive to better their business. You will find the same kindness in return!

Do you have any final words of wisdom for QC’s students?

You are about to embark on a spectacular journey. Finish the courses and use the resources that QC provides. Take your time and work at your own pace. Figure out what quality makes you special and gives your business a unique factor. QC is providing you with a very solid foundation in the industry, but it is very important to continue to educate yourself after your course has finished. Take part in learning seminars and special training opportunities. The event industry is always evolving and changing. You need to keep up so you can offer your clients the latest and greatest styles, decor, etc.

Good luck!

Andrea is a tutor in QC’s Event and Wedding Planning and Event Decor courses. For more information on these courses, head over to QC Event School.


Help!

Sometimes, projects appear out of the blue when you least expect them. In this case, a mother’s panicked phone call launched a colleague’s delightful recent contract. It became a chance to reconnect with the magic of childhood.

Yes, we all love the highly profitable huge scale projects, the big, money spinning weddings, the detailed corporate events that eat up time, energy and massive resources. This contract was not like that.

The Back Story

In her flustered phone call, a mother outlined the situation. She had been away on a business trip and had instructed her husband and young daughter to do a little advance planning for the daughter’s ten year old birthday party.

And so, they did!

Together, the dad and his daughter outlined their mutual plans for a dream birthday party. And then, without further consultation…… THEY SENT THE INVITATION. In the form of an Evite. And you know what they say about the internet. Once you have sent something you cannot take it back. Right? Oh, so right!

On the mother’s return, she found that she was to host a swimming party for a mere twenty seven ten year old girls, that there would be arts and crafts, that great food, decorations, swimming in the backyard pool, a water balloon and water sponge fight had been promised, an elaborate haunted house would be part of the fun, and that, and here are the straws that broke the mother’s back, – the party would last a mere FOUR hours, and, “Oh yes,” that her husband would be away on a business trip in Calgary. She was on her own!

Who You Gonna Call?

“Would you take on a small job?” she asked our colleague. “I thought the rule was to invite the same number of children as the child’s age, plus one,” she said, “We ‘ve had 30 acceptances. And they said they only invited twenty seven!?”

Smoothly, our colleague sashayed into action. The panic subsided and the planning began.

Step One

There was a backyard pool at the house. Preferably, it’s a good idea to give the same number of children back to their parents as arrived at the beginning of the party. The event planner hired a truly competent lifeguard, and told her to bring another well qualified friend. You need two lifeguards for thirty wild, over-excited children.

Sponge FightStep Two

She planned a timetable and prepared a large scale printed version of it to be tacked up on a wall for consultation throughout the entire four hours.

  1. Forty minutes for swimming,
  2. Thirty minutes for the sponge and balloon fight.
  3. Twenty minutes for thirty over excited girls to change out of wet bathing suits.
  4. Forty minutes for the first craft.
  5. Thirty minutes to consume vast quantities of chips, pizza, cake and fruit platters while chatting nineteen to the dozen.
  6. Forty minutes to make the elaborate dream catchers.
  7. Finally, down to the basement for the haunted house which would morph into a dance party in time for pick up!

The timetable worked beautifully.

Step Three

Party TableIn a delightful visit to the local dollar store, the planner and her ten year old birthday girl, purchased sufficient arts and crafts projects to keep the children occupied for the two forty minute sessions. Together, they decided on a tote bag for each child that required painstaking coloring with luminescent markers (provided as part of each kit.) The second project they decided on was a dream catcher kit. Extra beads and feathers were added to the standard package mix so that each invitee could create something really original and beautiful.

In the same visit, the planner and her young charge had lots of fun determining decorations for the party. Together, they decided on,”ice cream colors,” pink and yellow table cloths, sparkly foam 3D stick ons all over the tables, cheerful flower stick-ups, pink flower balls, and the real star of the show, a mysterious “crystal” ball that changed colors as you gazed at it. The girls loved them all!

Step Four

Water Sponge Fight! Well, while the kids are wet from swimming, why not?
Four zinc buckets that could be used as planters after the party were purchased for $3.00 apiece, filled with water and sponges – and what would become the favorite activity of the party was ready for action!

Step Five

Birthday CakeFood. Keep It Simple Stupid. Ten year olds by and large are not that into gourmet food. And the mom was not that into elaborate cooking. Sooooo. Six huge cheese pizzas (they were all consumed!) bags of chips, fresh fruit platters and cake, glorious cake. A large slab cake was purchased. The message on it welcomed the girl of the hour to the glamorous double digits!

Step Six

And, finally, down to the dark basement for the haunted house, complete with spooky sound effects, courtesy of a Hallowe’en CD, jello “eyeballs,” tubs of gummy worm “intestines” and slime, glorious slime. Ten year olds LOVE goop. They got it!

A fabulous time was had by all, including the mom and the planner, everyone survived, thirty exhausted girls got to take home their loot bag projects! Success!

Are you looking to become a fabulous event planner? QC’s Event Planning Course might be just the ticket to make your dream come true!


June 18, 2014 12:00 am

Getting from Praised to Paid

Paid to Praised - It Should be Easy

The party is over. Everyone has agreed that it was fantastic. You were fantastic. They could not possibly have done it without you.

Wonderful. Any chance of any money, honey? Mostly, it’s no problem. Sometimes? Well. Not so fast.

People are funny. You might, in your innocence think that a client who praises you to the skies and back, would also be ready and willing to pay you in a reasonable way – on time and without quibbling.  After all, they have just lauded you and recommended you to all their friends as the best in the business.

However, sometimes clients just don’t get that their wonderful family party, is also your business. You may be the best thing since sliced bread, but you also need to um, eat, and preferably better than sliced bread!

Over the years we have heard some hilarious stories with clients. There was the family who lived in a massive house, drove a Roll Royce and insisted on the most luxurious , the very, very best of everything for their event, who simply and shamelessly refused to pay a penny afterwards. Yes, they loved it all, but didn’t feel they should have to pay now. The party was well and truly over. Good thing, we had, a) insisted on getting a substantial deposit before the event, and b) were prepared to be quietly, professionally persistent, Eventually we got paid most of the money owed, but, boy were they offended by the indignity of being chased for payment. That family became a lost client, but on the other hand, we did not really relish the thought of ever working with them again. Rule Number One. Do a check on clients, no matter how richly they may seem to live. Sometimes they really do live in straw houses.

There was the dentist who decided out of the blue that rather than pay his invoice, he would simply offer annual dental examinations and cleaning instead. No negotiation, no discussion. He assumed everyone would be thrilled. Only, not so much.

The divorced couple who were paying half each for their daughter’s wedding? She was in business for herself, understood the demands of cash flow and paid her invoice precisely as agreed. He was chased for his share for, well, let’s just say a very long time. It did not help that he was driving around town in a white convertible Mercedes, which he called his, “Babe Machine.” Lovely guy.

How about the husband who left his wife, and all his supposed fiscal responsibilities the morning after his daughter’s lavish wedding? “Well,” he plaintively said when asked for payment, “I want to start a new life!”

You are an Event Planner. That means that you are a People Organizer. Sometimes organizing people is like trying to herd chickens. But, you can do it!

Your ideal scenario is to get paid promptly and fully, and to keep your client for future occasions.

Discuss money and your terms right up front, before the event. Your clients should understand your payment expectations very clearly at the beginning of the process of building your relationship. At an early planning meeting, show the client your contract form and explain how payment terms are set up. You can be as friendly as you like. Always remember, however, that the foundation of a client  relationship is built on professionalism. Professionals require to be paid.

So. Design your contract so that payment terms are clear to all. Explain how those payment terms are to be met. An early deposit is a great sign of commitment and an indicator of willingness to pay. Do not be embarrassed. Go for it.

Many planners now ask their client to bring their payment check to the event so that terms can be immediately settled. That might seem a little brusque, but these actions are made by the planner who has learned from unfortunate harsh experience.

If vendors are to be paid separately by the client, work with them. Explain to the client that the band will expect to be paid on the night before they start the two hour drive home.

Offer a discount  for pre payment. People love a bargain. Even people who have just spent $100,000 on their celebration. You can afford to offer a 2% discount to ensure that your cash flow is healthy.

Make the terms of your invoice a little unusual. Most people’s eyes glaze right over the standard, “30 days net” payment terms. If you say, “Payment is due immediately when invoice is presented.” Or “Full payment is due 17 days from date of invoice,” clients are likely to pause, consider, and pay up. They recognize you mean real business.

Mostly, your job is creative, artistic and fun. Mostly, getting paid is a rewarding dynamic too. When it’s a difficult element, be prepared to chase the money in an organized, friendly way without getting too stressed.

After all, as the old Yorkshire expression says, “There’s nowt as queer as folks!”

Do you have any client horror stories?  Share with us below!  And if you’re thinking of a career as an event planner, QC’s event & wedding planning courses come with our Achieving Business Success series that helps you prepare for these uncomfortable situations!


June 11, 2014 12:00 am

Graduate Feature: Jess Adlington

Jess Adlington

Name: Jess Adlington

Location: Emu Plains, Sydney, Australia

Program: Event & Wedding Planning

Website

When Jess Adlington decided to plan her own wedding, she set out to create something unique and truly memorable.  Well, she definitely succeeded at that!  Her DIY wedding set off quite a stir, even getting her featured on i-do.com!

After the wedding, Jess decided to make a career out of event and wedding planning.  She found QC, and has since graduated from the Event and Wedding Planning program.  With her newly acquired business acumen and industry expertise, along with the passion she exhibited in planning her own nuptials, we expect to see great things of Jess in the near future!

We caught up with Jess to find out just how she pulled off such a beautiful and fun event on her own!

Jess Adlington Wedding 1

1: Your wedding was just beautiful! Have you always wanted to plan your own wedding? What made you decide to go down that path?

Thank you. I wanted to plan something that everyone would remember. I decided to do it myself because I made the decorations to give it my own personal touch. Planning my own wedding was something I wanted to do.  I love themed events. Our housewarming was dress-up (heroes and villains) and our engagement party was dress-up as well. I’m currently planning my 30th and throwing an 80’s themed party. So planning a theme wedding was the way to go for us.

2: The Mad Hatter theme is absolutely brilliant!  How did you come up with that? Did you have any difficulties when it came to executing on the theme?

I went looking on the net trying to find something different and fun. I found Alice in Wonderland and decided on The Mad Hatter (to be different). I found a lot of ideas on the internet and started buying one of each of the decorations. I would pull them apart when they arrived to see how they were made and would make them myself. I had no difficulties finding or coming up with ideas for it.

Jess Adlington Wedding 3

3: What did you enjoy the most about planning the wedding?

The most enjoyable part was seeing everything come together. It’s one thing to put it together in your head but when it starts to come together towards the end it makes all the stressfully days’ worth it.

4: What was the most stressful part of planning this wedding?  If you had to do it again, would you change anything?

Table plan and place cards, I can’t say how many times this was changed. I just wanted to scream. Each table had their own place cards, so when we moved people around at the last minute I had to re-print them to make sure they had the correct character on them for the tables.

The wedding invitations would also be in this group as well. The invitations had 7 parts to be cut out for each invitation, plus everyone got a map to find the place. Everything was hand cut and put together.

I would still do it all over again because the end result was worth it.

Jess Adlington Wedding 4

5: Your wedding got quite a bit of attention! How did you manage to get featured on i-do.com and other high-prestige sites?

I was very lucky. I have a friend who works for the people who run the site. They wanted to do something on themed weddings and my friend mentioned mine. I was so excited because I spent 16 months putting it together, and for it to be featured on Australia’s leading wedding site I felt so privileged and grateful this has happened to me.

6: What would you tell future brides who are thinking of planning their own nuptials?

If you can dream it, plan it. Have the wedding you want, not the wedding others want you to have. Remember, you’re paying for it and they will be your memories to look back on. I wouldn’t change a thing about my wedding because I know everyone had a great time and still talk about it.

Jess Adlington Wedding 2

 

Are you looking to expand your knowledge and launch an exciting career in event and wedding planning? Check out QC Event School’s Free Brochure for more information on the programs offered.


PART 4: Forging Business Relationships

So your business is off the ground. You have a good reputation, an online presence, and have acquired a few clients.  Now’s the time to think about partnering with vendors and venues to get greater discounts and traffic to your company.

The more partnerships you can forge with vendors, the less you’ll have to spend on traditional forms of advertising in the long run.

Here’s the catch: You need to get the vendor’s attention first!

Mutually Beneficial Arrangement

Before we discuss methods, let’s turn the tables a little:  Imagine you’re running a successful, profitable, busy event planning business.  A caterer comes to you and says “Could you give my clients a discount on your services?”

Your answer would probably be “maybe, but what will I get in return?”

Now imagine if that same caterer came to you and said “I have 50 businesses who regularly come to me for catering services and I’d love to recommend your planning services to them, could we form an mutually beneficial arrangement?”

Then your answer would likely be “YOU BET!”

I think you can see where I’m going.  It’s all about your approach.  If you’re approaching a vendor looking for a hand out, you’re most likely to encounter a closed door. Whereas if you come to them with an offer that benefits them, you’ll have their attention.

Here are a few easy offers you could make to vendors:

  1. The simplest is a straight-up exchange: You recommend their business to your clients, and they do the same. But, you can go further.
  2. Feature their services as a preferred or executive vendor on your website and social media platforms.
  3. Offer to use and promote their services as part of your next staged event.
  4. Hold a contest or some other promotion for your clients, where you give away a gift card from this vendor.
  5. Arrange an exclusive arrangement whereby your company will ONLY use their services (be careful with this however… you wouldn’t want to drive customers away by limiting their choices)
  6. Offer a referral program, where you pay the vendor for every customer they send your way.  (Note, there can be some ethical controversy around this one. Make sure to do your research and only associate with highly trustworthy people if you go down this road.)

 

How to get noticed by Vendors

So this is where the rubber hits the road.  How can you get a vendor’s attention long enough to present your offer?

Use Social Media

Odds are whatever business you’re targeting has a social media account.  Start off slowly by following them on their social media page and commenting on their posts. Engage in discussions with their followers and offer your opinions where appropriate. This will help you learn about the company’s values and you might just get noticed by the business owners, too.  If they do notice your participation, they may remember you when you come to them with an offer, and will be more receptive at that point.

Have a face-to-face meeting

There’s nothing like a direct meeting with the owner of a company.  A face-to-face meeting will allow you to observe their reaction to your proposal first-hand and modify your offer to suit their specific preferences or needs. You can either call the business first and arrange a meeting, or just drop by.  Calling first is a more professional approach, while dropping by has more chance of succeeding in securing a meeting.  You can try both and see what works best for you.

Emails and phone calls

Pick up That Phone

Unless you’re dealing with a bigger corporation, I’d stay away from emails for this type of venture.  Just think about the amount of junkmail you receive every day as a small business: your carefully crafted email message has a real chance of being deleted without ever having been read.

Phone calls, on the other hand, are a nice way to casually break the ice.  Practice a quick elevator pitch and be respectful of the other person’s time.

Flyers and Ads

This approach is useful if you’re targeting a large number of companies at the same time. You can create a beautiful and informative flyer or brochure advertising your services and partnership opportunities, and drop them off at local businesses.

The downside to flyers/ads is that you’re missing out on that personalized approach, and this option has the added disadvantage of costing you more than your time.

Whatever your method, remember these key points when approaching vendors:

  1. Have your numbers ready.  Before a business owner agrees to a partnership, he/she will want to know your customer numbers, your reach on social media, etc.
  2. Have their numbers ready, too.  If you’ve done your research, you should have an idea of what the business’ reach is as well.  This will show them you’re serious and committed.
  3. Don’t beg.  You have a great product and as long as you have an appealing offer, they should WANT to work with you.
  4. Don’t argue.  If someone doesn’t want to work with you, be graceful and thank them for their time.  Arguing their reasons is an easy way to damage your reputation in the business community.
  5. Stick to your values.  It’s normal to want as many partnerships as possible, but associating with less-than-reputable or questionable vendors will only hurt you in the long run.

Never Give Up

So what are you waiting for?

Getting your name out there isn’t easy. Like anything else it takes a lot of work, sweat, some tears, and most importantly, absolute determination!

 

Are you looking to start an event and wedding planning business? All of QC’s Event and Wedding Planning Courses come with our “Achieving Business Success” DVD series that offers much more detailed, step-by-step instructions on marketing & promotion! Learn more here.


PART 3: Marketing to Clients

As an event/wedding planner, you’ll be involved on both sides of the marketing fence: Business to Customer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B). The first is your traditional marketing to clients. The second is marketing yourself to other businesses who can help you succeed (vendors, etc.)
Let’s start with marketing to clients.

B2C Marketing relies on knowing your target customers, inside and out. Once you understand who your target is and where he/she spends her time, you can start developing a marketing strategy. For example, most newspaper ads are obsolete… unless you’re trying to reach an audience who still goes to print for their primary source of information and entertainment. And the same can be said for the flip side: promoting yourself on social media is great, but make sure to focus on the websites where your clients will see your efforts!

As you go through this list of potential marketing mediums, ask yourself if they are right for your customers.

Direct Marketing

business advice

Paid Search (Digital)

This one is a no brainer. If your clients use the Internet, they probably use Google. Using Google Paid Advertising is an easy way to ensure your website shows up at the top of the list when a customer searches for your business name or the services you offer. You can easily set up a google AdWords account for free, and set a modest daily budget, targeting a few industry keywords to get the ball rolling.

Pros: You can get to the top of search listings without spending tons of time getting links to your website
Cons: Depending on which keywords you’re bidding on, Google can get pretty expensive.

Advertising in Newspapers or Magazines (Traditional)

You can buy ad space for your business in Newspapers or other print mediums. These spaces come in a variety of sizes and you can design your own ad to fit within the allotted space.

Pros: Most print ads have a high reach and can be relatively inexpensive
Cons: It is very difficult to gauge the effectiveness of print advertising; most readers have developed “ad blindness” and might not pay attention to your ads.

Direct Mail

Printing out flyers or brochures to be sent to potential clients as promotional mail is a way to get many impressions. A well thought out campaign (you have to think outside the box) has potential to get noticed.

Pros: Reach thousands of people in one fell swoop; target individuals, businesses, or both.
Cons: In order for direct mail to work, it can be very expensive and take a fair amount of your time to get it right. It’s also very difficult to track results, outside of sending out discount offers which can end up cheapening your brand.

Content/Social Marketing

BUSINESS ADVICE

Get a writer’s attention

Probably a more effective way of getting your name into a newspaper, magazine, or influential blog is to attract the attention of a writer who’s interested in your business. This can be done in a few ways:

  1. Reach out to reporters or bloggers to feature a special event or aspect of your business (are you planning a unique event? Do you have a funny story to share? Another piece of content that could be useful to their readers?). Just make sure it’s not self-promoting. No reporter will write about a discount or sale, for example, but they might write about an event you’ve organized.
  2. Offer your services as an industry expert. There are many reporters or bloggers who are looking for reliable sources to feature in articles they’re already developing. Resources like “HelpAReporter.com” are great ways to get your name and your business featured in leading industry publications.

Pros: Doesn’t cost anything but your time; you can end up being featured in very prestigious publications (especially with option 2)
Cons: It does take a lot of time and you’ll face a lot of rejection. That’s part of the challenge.

Using your Social Media Channels

If you’ve been following this series, you now have a website and a few social media accounts that are ready to roll. Facebook and Twitter are the overlords of the Social Media industry. Instagram is also a great medium for wedding/event planners, since the business tends to yield plenty of gorgeous pictures.

A few tips to succeed at Social Media Marketing:

  1. Post regularly and consistently. Have a “social media schedule” and stick to it. There are many types of software out there that can help you schedule posts in advance. A few examples are buffer and hootsuite.
  2. Treat your social media like a time bomb. Be ready to quickly respond to comments on your posts or direct messages from potential clients. Social Media users aren’t patient. Taking too long to respond to a comment, question, or inquiry is a recipe for disaster.
  3. Don’t ask without giving back: follow your followers and participate on their social pages as well. They’ll return the favor.
  4. Ask your satisfied clients to post their event pictures and tag your business. Word-of-mouth from a happy customer is the best advertising you can ever ask for.

Here’s a social media secret not many small businesses understand: Your followers don’t care about you, they care about themselves. Posting a message about how great your business is, is sure to fail. Posting content that is useful to your follower will be liked and shared, thus promoting your brand. (“useful” can mean anything from funny to inspiring to solving a specific problem.)

Blogging

business advice

Once you’ve set up your website and have a decent following on social media, consider launching a blog on your site. You can blog about anything related to your business, as long as you’re sensitive to your clients’ privacy.

A critical aspect of a blog is to keep updating it regularly: daily is best, but at a minimum once a week. Writing blog articles that are useful to your readers can attract new clients and help forge relationships with other industry professionals.

Which brings us to the final part of this series. Stay tuned for the upcoming fourth and final piece: Marketing yourself to Vendors.

Are you looking to start an event and wedding planning business? All of QC’s Event and Wedding Planning Courses come with our “Achieving Business Success” DVD series that offers much more detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to market yourself effectively to clients! Learn more here.


Part 2: Building your Brand

You have an angle, and you have registered your business name. Now it’s time to get serious.  Building your own brand can be tons of fun and can attract some real attention if done right.

Before diving into building your website, business cards, marketing collateral, etc., remember this one fundamental:  CONSISTENCY!

When you’re building your brand, you’ll want all aspects of the business (from your website to your business card to your advertising) to have a consistent look and feel.  Think about a logo that’s easy to use in different formats, images that are easily convertible from online to print, and a specific writing tone that helps clients identify with your brand.

Your Website

It’s 2014, and there’s no excuse for a business not to have a website.  You might not get a lot of traffic at first, but most clients won’t trust you if you don’t have some online presence.

You can easily find online templates that help you build a professional-looking website.  I personally love squarespace.com: for a very inexpensive monthly subscription fee, you can build a professional website based on numerous templates, even if you don’t have any web design experience.

A few pointers when building your website:

– As previously mentioned, make sure the URL is somewhere along the lines of [your business name].com.  The closer the domain is to your business name, the better.

– Unless you’re a web designer (or you hire one), stick with a proven template.  It might be useful to spend a little time researching best practices for web page design to avoid making classic mistakes (i.e. avoid flash-based websites, etc.)

– Plan your site before getting started. On paper, write down the “wireframe” for your website: how many pages you need, what content will be on these pages, what the navigation will be like.  At minimum, you’ll have:

1. A home page

2. A “products & services” page

3. An “about me/us” page

4. A “contact” page

– Research basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) principles and stick to them.  This will help users find your website when they type your business name into Google.

– Be careful with the photographs or images you use on your site. Make sure you have the rights to use them in that context. Stock photography is an option, but if you have the time and resources to use your own photographs, there’s nothing better!

A note about email addresses:  having an email address for your business hosted on a personal email provider looks amateur at best.  It’s very easy and inexpensive to set up a business email account that can help you look infinitely more professional. 

Consider: maryseventplanning@gmail.com vs. info@maryseventplanning.com. Which one would you trust more?

Your Business Cards

Business owners spend a lot of time designing and updating their business cards. It’s an important aspect of any business that deals with clients face-to-face, but at the same time a traditional business card can miss the mark if it doesn’t link your business image.

Before you get started, establish a budget for your business cards. Figure out how much you’re willing to spend on the design and production of your cards, and also figure out how many cards you’d realistically need. You’d be amazed how many people forget this crucial step and end up spending over 20 hours and thousands of dollars on business cards that are hardly ever used.

Business Card Basics:

– All Business Cards should contain the following:

1. The company name and logo

2. Your name and position

3. Your phone number and email address

4. The company website

– Keep it simple: avoid busy photo backgrounds or fancy, illegible fonts.

– Stay within standard business card dimensions. They are easier for clients to handle.

– Keep it consistent: try to use the same terminology, font, colors as you do on your website.

– Consider alternatives to the standard paper card: Today you can find suppliers that will create business cards made of plastic, hardwood, lace… whatever you’d like!  These types of cards are more expensive, but are more likely to be noticed (and used!) by customers. So if you have a healthy budget and need a limited amount of cards, this is a wonderful option to consider!

Your Social Media Pages

Along with your website, you’ll probably want to become an active presence on social media channels. This is an area to connect directly with your clients and other vendors.

We’ll discuss the intricacies of Social Media in part 3 of this series, but here are some basics you’ll want to keep in mind when building any social media business account.

1. Surprise-surprise, you’ll want to keep consistent with the business image you’ve already developed on your website and business card.  That means using the same colors, text and image styles, etc.

2. Make sure your logo is present on all your business pages, and link back to your website on all your accounts.

3. If your name is anywhere on your business’ social media accounts (and it should be), then pay attention to your personal profile as well. Make sure your own profile doesn’t contain any messages or pictures that could alienate or offend your clients.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Marketing to Clients

Are you looking to start an event and wedding planning business? All of QC’s Event and Wedding Planning Courses come with our “Achieving Business Success” DVD series that offers much more detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to build a successful brand! Learn more here