Today I'm excited about a conversation I had earlier this week about "giving away event planning services."
Why do event planners think it's okay (or necessary) to give away their event planning services?
If you want to plan a free event, make it voluntary and for a non-profit organization. At least then you will learn from other professionals, improve your skills, and help your community.
This is my biggest motive as part of the events industry and obviously I'm passionate (and opinionated) about it!
It drives me crazy, when I see how they immediately jump to say "I'll do it for free" to gain experience or get hired by a client.
Whether you're just getting started in the event industry or a professional who's been through tough times, you can't survive by giving your event planning services away.
When planning and organizing come so naturally to us, we often get stuck in the money game because it's hard to imagine someone paying us to do what we love.
When you think about exposing client event services, do you find that little voice in your head that says…?
"Just because I love planning events doesn't mean that no one will hire me."
"I love planning events and I think I'm pretty good at it, but I don't know who will hire me to plan their events."
Unless you are planning an event for your family (yes, your friends should pay and be treated like customers), for the love of all that is sacred, stop sharing your experience and start placing a value on what you do.
Giving away your event planning services isn't helping you
Here are 3 reasons why ...
- Customers of the event must invest, so they are motivated to make the most of the experience.
- Giving away your services for free does not help you invest in the event. By charging for your event services, you will be able to do your best and want to learn, grow and improve.
- Free no = income. It is difficult to pay your bills when you are not making money. It seems obvious right?
Money is a hot topic with different opinions and attitudes, and we all treat it differently.
6 things to do before starting your event planning business
There are many things to consider when starting an event planning and planning business, but I wanted to take some time to detail a few key pieces that were vital to me when researching and starting my successful event business.
1. Make sure you do your research and build a solid business plan!
I can't tell you how many businesses and events fail because the founder (s) didn't come up with a business plan in advance.
Be sure to research successful plans / businesses that are similar to your scope of work and reach out to others in the events industry who can guide you!
Even if you have never seen a business plan, there are many resources and templates online that you can get started. Also, when looking to grow your business, an up-to-date business plan is vital to securing any type of investment.
Check out this checklist for success in 2019
2. Set a marketing budget and use a public relations company when possible.
Your marketing budget may be 30% or more of your business expenses up front; don't forget that you'll need business cards, brochures, digital marketing (online via Google, Facebook), and expenses to travel to events to meet people. and develop your business.
I leave this for you to read: The most complete guide to calculating event budgets
Leave nothing out! You will have to spend money to make money, ultimately. The goal in the first few months is to secure your customer base as quickly as possible.
If you deliver on the promise of creating memorable events, your customers will stick around and your marketing costs will start to drop as a result.
You may be interested in reading this: How to increase your budget through event sponsorships
3. Make sure your scope of work / mission / objectives are clearly defined.
Your organization / business may evolve over time, but make sure you have what you / are not willing to do clearly described on your business website.
Are you just starting to say "No" to customers? It's one of the hardest things to do, but it can keep you from dealing with the kinds of customers that take up too much time and don't offer enough value.
4. Make everyone remember you
After setting up my first business, I had a hard time selling it to people because my 30 second launch was not refined.
Make sure you take the time to develop this - it's the key to introducing EVERYONE to your business.
Pro Tip: At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you name your business, as long as it produces truly memorable events. However, a catchy event business name idea might be better to position yourself in the minds of who you want to reach.
5. Do your market research!
Before jumping in I always tell people to understand their market and their competitors. What is your unique value proposition? Are your rates similar or better / higher than others in your area?
Understanding your competition and your customers will give you the edge in this market. Don't skip this step!
6. Spend some time learning the tax laws and business filing in your area
I spent some time researching what type of business would be best for me, (I decided to register an SL exclusively for my events company and separate it from my consulting company) and understood its tax implications before starting.
When I moved to Washington DC (Canary Islands), I had to go through the dissolution process and should have taken more time to investigate other possibilities!
There are many more things to consider before starting your business, but I hope this helps you get started.
There are some great resources for building small businesses.
Dealing with difficult clients during event planning? 5 times it's okay to just say "NO!"
In an ideal world, meeting and event planners would focus on one event at a time. Considering venues, speakers, and agendas need to close months in advance, and that's not realistic - in a single day, you could be negotiating venue contracts for one event, printing check-in credentials for another, and updating Facebook to notify attendees for a third party. Managing so many events is a challenge in itself, but what do you do when some clients are demanding? Here are five times when modern planners can say "no" and better meet the challenge of a difficult customer.
Learn to love "No."
How was your week "Busy!" It doesn't matter which industry is being questioned; We're all too busy these days, and so are some of the best planners. The difference is that they know how to walk the fine line between being at full capacity and feeling overwhelmed. This is where planners managing multiple events should get comfortable with the word "No". Planners managing multiple events should be comfortable with the word "No".
It's not the modern meeting planner's job to please everyone, but to manage expectations, run big events, and do it consistently. Knowing when to say "No" and when to "Yes, yes ..." can be the key to keeping what you promise at each event. So when should you say "No" to clients during the planning process?
When Should Event Planners Say "No!" Difficult clients?
1. The client requests a new timeline
The word is there in the job title, PLAN. Planners are adept at creating a timeline and sticking to an optimal plan.
The most difficult clients in event planning are those who deviate from specific deadlines.
Remind your clients that this will not be admitted without a good reason.
2. They deviate from the diagram
Once you've engaged with a client and agreed on a venue, you should have a good sense of the opportunities or limitations of the event.
Make sure clients understand what's possible with room sets, A / V, and event design, and be prepared to reject ideas that may come up in the middle of the planning process.
3. The client wants to take too much responsibility
«Make sure to CC me in every email… I would like to meet with the food vendors next week… Remember I must have the final say on all décor! "
When you agree to work with a client, make sure they trust your decision implicitly.
Be prepared to say "NO" if they try to take over the process.
4. You are treated as a personal assistant and not as the event planner
The planners are entrusted by the clients, places and also the assistants. They are organized artistic communicators and will often find ways to tweak the rules to please customers.
The problem is when customers take things too far.
You are used to leaning back to satisfy your clients, but don't let this happen at the expense of upcoming projects.
5. When you can make customers happy anyway
As I mentioned, it is not your job to fulfill EVERY request. Ask yourself if what you are doing for clients really moves the needle for an event.
Be prepared to say "NO" when you have determined that an idea has little overall impact on the event experience.
It is not a planner's job to fulfill EVERY request.
The last thing any event planner wants is to leave customers with the feeling that they are not getting what they asked for. Planners can prepare to say "no" to difficult clients by being transparent to the entire relationship.
Teamwork makes everything work better
Collaboration is key. No event can be planned by one person.
Events are like machines with dozens of moving parts, each responsible for its own unique role.
The challenge is to keep everyone involved on the same page, with up-to-the-minute information.
Here are two (2) tools that can help you do just that and communicate visually to give difficult customers the security they need.
Both Slack and Asana have become our best ally for organizing events, especially if you have team members who are not in the same city.
Successful planners can manage multiple events each year by holding stakeholders accountable.
Time to kill the email when planning and organizing an event!
Slack is one of the fastest growing chat apps in the business world, and it's 100% free.
Invite everyone related to the event to a chat room in Slack and keep your team informed with regular updates on any device.
With so many parties involved, the key to managing each individual's efforts is simplicity.
Asana makes it easy to take big projects, break them down into your individual tasks, and assign and track everyone's progress.
Remember that property managers, caterers, and even speakers are part of the event and being connected will make everything go smoothly.
Successful planners can manage multiple events each year by holding stakeholders accountable.
How do you deal with especially difficult clients in event planning?