Do you wish there were ways you can get great marketing for your business for free?
Are you exploring ways to grow your event planning business but don’t yet have funds to pay for advertising?
This article is for you.
When most event planners think of marketing their event business, they think of expensive advertising they can’t afford. Many readers have asked, “How do I market my business without money?”
The answer is through creative strategy. Just because you may lack the funds for marketing doesn’t mean you lack the opportunity to market your business.
The goal of marketing is to increase brand recognition. Prospective clients tend to purchase services from brands they recognize. So the key to marketing is to create a captivated audience, who will one day become your future customers.
By using the word “ADVERTISE” as an acronym, listed below are simple ways you can market your event planning business for free. These ideas will not only help you build your brand; they will help build your confidence as an owner of an event planning business.
A – Approach and Ask
Make yourself known to the local event venue vendors in your community. Approach them and ask if you can leave some of your brochures with them to pass on to people who rent their venue space. I’ve done this in my community and was surprised to hear from many venue owners that they ALWAYS have customers looking for someone who provided event planning services.
If the venue is one that you’ve used before, and the owner was pleased with the décor you provided their client with, you can go one step further and ask if they can post pictures of your work on their social media page. Many times venue owners would be interested in this exchange because they stand a better chance of renting their hall out to prospective customers who can see the design possibilities of the venue.
Local churches and college campuses are other places where you can ask permission to leave brochures for prospective brides. After all, most brides get married in churches, and many are college students.
D – Digital
Expand your digital footprint by ensuring that your business has an online presence. Be sure to create business Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn pages that are strictly for your company. Refrain from posting anything personal on these pages. Engage your social media friends with tips, photos and videos regarding your event business.
You can also expand your digital footprint by registering your business with online directory listings like Yelp, Google Local, Yahoo Local, Bing Business and Craigslist. In addition to these ideas, you can have a little online fun by creating a YouTube page and a Pinterest board that showcase videos and photos of your best work.
V – Volunteer
If you are the parent of a teen, you already know that your life can be consumed by these neatly organized gang of moms called BOOSTERS. Almost every school sports team, drama club and any other extracurricular based organization have a booster club. Booster clubs raise money for particular organizations to absorb the cost on behalf of the students participating in these activities. However, often times these clubs lack organization. That’s where you come in as a planner!
Volunteer to work with a booster club to organize party or community fundraisers. More importantly, don’t be afraid to give your business a shameful plug when other moms ask about your planning experience, and believe me, they will ask. Some will even give your business an honorable mention on the back of a fundraiser program.
Another way to get your name out on the volunteer platform is to contact local women’s shelters and charity organizations. These organizations often celebrate the achievements of those who are enrolled in their programs by having yearly galas. Volunteering for such organizations will not only increase your brand recognition, but they can help you contribute to a worthy cause.
Volunteer your services at a family/class reunion or wedding in exchange for brand recognition. Have the host, d.j. mistress or master of ceremony mention the name of your company several times throughout the duration of the event. Provide business cards or brochures for interested guest.
Side note: When volunteering your services, determine in advance the worth of service that you will offer. Be sure to offer only what you can afford to offer. Avoid offering services that will cost you out of pocket expenses. If any out of pocket expenses arise, pass that cost to the organization. In addition, limit the number of free events you do per year.
E – EAT and SHOW
“Eat and show”, this is something that I made up, yet it is my absolute favorite way of marketing my business. I map out restaurants that are known for hosting weddings. On days that I would ordinarily eat out for dinner, I would simply bring a laptop or an iPad, set it up on the table to face other restaurant visitors, and play a running loop of the slide show that showcase some of my greatest events. I sit quietly and eat, while the slideshow draws groups of interested people who ask about my services, and leave my table with one of my brochures. Wham.
Another fun “eat and show” technique that I enjoy using is going to a downtown area of a quaint, yet affluent city, that has a picnic area, and setting up a picnic table with linen and an elaborate table top design with lots of LED lighting. I like to do this right before sunset, that way the displays with the lighting will draw the attention of people passing by. To avoid having any type of permits to do this, I simply unpack my food on my fancy plates and enjoy my meal. The goal of the eat and show, is to get an audience. My family and I, we go all out when we do this, we even wear fancy clothes. We attract large crowds, and tell them about our company, sending them home with a brochure every time.
Public marketing can be a fun way to meet new people, while building your brand recognition as well as your confidence. Public marketing has a way of pulling you out of your comfort zone.
R – Referrals
When I was a child, my mother’s favorite line was, “A closed mouth won’t get fed.” As a business owner, I’ve incorporated this concept into my daily business practice by requesting referrals from former clients. Asking for referrals is one of the first things you learn in a sales class. Referrals work as warm leads. People are more open to doing business with someone that a friend/family member has already done business with. It is an extra bonus if the person being referred has attended the event of your former client, because now, you have the ear of someone who has experienced your service.
T – Telephone, tell a Friend, tell them in a Text
Open your mouth and tell somebody. It’s o.k. to advertise yourself. People often use texting to group text silly pictures, inspirational quotes and the like. Group text a gorgeous picture from your latest event. You will be surprised at how many people in your circle, who are proud of you will show off your pictures to their friends and acquaintances.
I – Include
Include flyers, brochures or business cards in swag bags. Many event sponsors are looking for extra content to add to their swag bags. Google a local event in your area and ask if you can include some of your materials into their giveaway bags.
S – Share and Save
There will always be someone on your social media friends list who’s having a baby shower, wedding, corporate affair etc. Share and Save is a great way to engage people on your social media outlets.
Create a post with your logo on it, and let people know that if they share that post “x” number of times, they will be entitled to save a certain percentage on event planning services. Once you begin to receive notifications of the shares, simply keep a tally of the individual who is sharing the post. Even if no one decides to use your services, you have increased your name brand recognition.
E – Email Marketing
Email marketing is an effective way to keep your contacts abreast of the new services and products that you provide as an event planner. The more your company grows, the more exciting news you will have to share.
How can you obtain email addresses in order to market your services? Simply ask. Should you decide to use some of the above mentioned marketing ideas, you can simply create a word document that requests email addresses, and have people fill them out in exchange for one of your brochures or business cards.
What to do with the email address once you’ve collected them? I’m glad you asked. There are several companies that offer various levels of email marketing, in some cases for free. Companies like ConstantContact, MailChimp, BenchMark and VerticalResponse offer formats for new companies that will aid in organizing and sending mass email to potential customers from your contact list.
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