Of all the challenges a new event planner faces, marketing the business can feel the most overwhelming. The good news is that you can very easily, and inexpensively market your business to a receptive target audience. The challenge will be to follow through and consistency in maintaining exposure for your brand.
Perhaps most importantly, social media photo booth are super fun. Make your event memorable, and extend its impact beyond physical boundaries to reach everyone who receives an online postcard, reads a tweet with a link to the images, or views your Facebook fan page. You can visit Keshot or click on this link, to learn more about marketing your events using photo booth rentals.
Whole books have been written on the subject of marketing, and this material is not designed to replace them. Our hope is to provide you with guidance as to how to spend your time, and where. You should understand the pros and cons of the various options out there, to make intelligent decisions on your ROI or return on investment. Everyone has different results with different media.
As important as this is to your success, you should track where your leads (especially the ones that hire you), are coming from. Advertising that appears expensive at the outset, maybe cheap relative to other options when you see the revenue it is generating.
Your website if properly done can be a very useful marketing tool, and may be one of the places you spend early money, once you start getting gigs. WordPress.org has some incredibly easy templated websites that can get you started. If you can get to a place where you are on the first or second page of google with your site, which is very doable, this will be the single most effective marketing vehicle you have.
Keep in mind, you aren’t looking to be first when someone types “wedding planner.” You are looking to be first when someone type “wedding planner in Cleveland.” The difference between these two is what makes it vastly easier to rise to the top. I have, with no training whatsoever, been able to get several service-based websites on the first page of google.
The key is to duplicate the search you want to be relevant for. For example, if the hope is that you come up first when someone types “event planners in St. Louis,” do that search, and then go to the sites on the first page and a half of Google, and look at the content. You are specifically looking for whether there are videos or pictures, how often your key search term appears.
You are also looking for the titles used for the website’s pages. For example, if you click on a page, at the top right side of that page there will be a tab, with some language on it that is designed to summarize the content of that page. These are title tags, and this research on content will tell you what you need to emulate to get to the top of Google.
Be careful. Copying text and directly duplicating material, or over using a few keywords will get you punted from keyword searches, which would kill the effectiveness of your website. When you start to book events, you should consider early investment in a great website with an SEO (search engine optimization) professional to help you.
We recommend that at a minimum, a third of all profits go back into the business to grow it and help with important investments in the business. This investment would be at the top of that list. If you have some resources already saved, this would boost visibility substantially and increase the speed with which your business gets noticed. There are a number of free-lance website development options out there. Do your research as this is a hugely important investment.
Networking and Word of Mouth
Experienced, successful event planners will tell you that most of their new business comes from referrals and relationships they have formed with clients, and others in the business such as wedding photographers, and other wedding service providers. The challenge is to reach the level where the “machine” is sending you leads on a constant basis.
As you build relationships with these professionals and help them to build their businesses, it is reasonable to expect that they help with yours. You should be candid in hiring these folks about what you are looking for. It is reasonable to demand promptness, professionalism, responsiveness, and elite service from these folks.
Let them know that in your mind they are an extension of your brand, and if they provide an exceptional experience for your bride, you will help build their businesses. It is interesting to hear from new planners that they feel uncomfortable asking these folks for referrals. That is part of the job here
In the beginning, you should be very vocal to your personal network of friends and family to let them know you have begun to do this work, be sure to emphasize all of your efforts, research, and time spent getting to know the business.
Wedding and Bridal Shows – Few venues will give you as much exposure to potential clients in such a short amount of time as Wedding shows. They are also among the most expensive marketing options available to a new startup. Prices for large city shows range from $1000 for a small booth to more than $1600 for a larger one. These costs don’t include expenses for any attention-getting show pieces you may want to feature. There will also be some competition among other planners vying for the business of the same clients in a relatively small setting.
If you are just starting out, and don’t have a good portfolio of pictures of your work (which we will talk about getting inexpensively or free from photographers later), research designs you like online with sites like Pinterest and others and create a book of “ideas we love for your wedding.” Make sure these are things that you will be able to recreate with reasonable effort if asked to do so, but visualization is very important to getting clients to hire you.
- Social Media
Social media is an incredibly effective and inexpensive means of advertising your business, and to a limited degree, it is worth your time to learn how to get your brand up and running on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and snapchat. This is how you build a following and stay relevant to others who need to think of you first when they or someone they know decides to get married.
In the beginning, these are free if not very inexpensive. Once you get traction, placing ads may make a huge difference. Next, to Wedding Shows, this can be the most impactful marketing media available to you.
- Ratings and specialty sites
There are a number of sites like Yelp, which allow businesses to put up very basic profiles for free. In the beginning, it can be helpful to put your site and business on as many of these as possible so that these sites point back to your website and business.
When you sign up, you will be pitched on pay packages that help boost your chances of appearing early on these sites. In our experience, these types of investment don’t generate nearly as many live leads as search engine optimization. It is important to monitor these sites and to regularly search for your site so that you can see what reviews are out there both good and bad, which could impact your business.
- Phone books, mailers, and other print advertising
We address these last because frankly, they are not very effective in generating revenue relative to the cost, at least in this business. At some point, you may be large enough to require a better add in a phone book, or need to have mail outs for clients to stay in front of them, but getting email addresses, and electronic communication is vastly more effective. We simply don’t recommend spending startup dollars here.
You may have a need for printed material in the form of business cards or tri-folds, which can be handed out to guests who visit you at wedding shows etc. These are necessary expenditures, and when they are printed it should be high-quality work on a good card or paper stock. This stuff represents your brand, which must be elite if you want to command larger fees with your engagements.
We have included a great example of a tri-fold in word form, so you don’t have to play with formatting or make one yourself. Simply cut and paste photos or logos and add content as you see fit.