As the event industry remains shuttered, marketing your event planning business should be taking on the same sense of urgency and energy generally given to working events themselves.
Marketing is often considered a chore to be done in those rare moments between planning and executing exceptional events. And understandably so. It’s a distraction. It’s unpleasant, and the feedback loop is slow. But there are a few reasons why now is the time to dive into marketing headfirst.
Working On Your Event Planning Business Is Good For Mental Health
Some event professionals, especially those that work in venues, are being run ragged rescheduling events for the fall. They’re trying to figure out where the postponed events can fit between those already booked. With the backdrop of uncertainty, this is particularly stressful. And yet other professionals suddenly find themselves with time on their hands.
Jenn Dugan, founder of The Makeup Curio in Schenectady, explained that once the initial shock wore off, she focused on her blog. “It’s still important to produce content,” she said. “And to be active on my business, and not get into a depressive state and not do anything.””
For those event pros who have seen their work dry up for the spring and summer, marketing is a productive way to maintain mental health. All the while setting up their business for a strong come back.
Virtual Events Still Need Efficient Planning
Then there are new opportunities out there for those turning their hands to virtual events. A new market, companies hosting virtual events, is blowing up. The sudden growth in Google Searches indicates that it’s not just about moving events online but including business who’d never hosted in-person events at all.
Virtual events still need efficient planning, and event planners are well-positioned to glean new clients. Its time to reach into your marketing bag of tricks and expand both your service offerings to include the virtual event trend and your client base. And maybe use some event planning software to help.
People Are Looking Forward
Ryan Gac, a Chicago based DJ, tells me that “People, in general, are going to be so ready to be social and interact and get their life back in order.” This is echoed by event planners I’ve spoken to who are seeing postponements with few cancellations.
But there’s a consideration there. According to Mallorie Davenport of Enchanted Designs Weddings and Events, while the weddings are being postponed, not every vendor is available for the new days. Mallorie explained, “There’s going to be a lot of stuff where things are getting rescheduled, and you’re not going to have your original vendor.” She goes on to tell me that Fall events are still actively booking vendors too.
So while events may not be happening, potential clients are still looking to hire. And while you can’t network in person, and potential clients are experiencing your events firsthand, working on your marketing is something proactive you can do for your business.
An Opportunity to Try New Things
The media is full of quarantine-centric hobbies, and sure, being on lockdown offers the time to take an online class, pick back up on a hobby or learn something new. But it also provides the time to try new marketing strategies you might not have had the bandwidth to explore when the event industry was in full swing.
This is the time to work on Search Engine Optimization, work on your email marketing, improve on your social media marketing, build out a referral program, or even dive into Google or Facebook Ads. Yes, New marketing channels are challenging and require focus before they can run on their own. This COVID-19 era might just be the time when you, well, have time.
Marketing Ideas to Test On Your Event Planning Business
So once you’ve rescheduled all those postponed events, and calmed your clients, test some new marketing ideas out. See what works for you that is effective and, best of all, something that you believe can become a routine, even when this whole COVID-19 stuff blows over. Sure, there’s Instagram and other social media, but here are some actionable marketing ideas to try too.
Email marketing: This is my favorite of all marketing channels. Short, simple newsletters to past and current clients can light a fire under referrals. Staying in touch with past and present clients, even asking explicitly for referrals, can create new bookings.
Search Engine Optimization: Is your Google My Business account up to date? Are you getting new content up on your website’s blog? Have you taken steps to make sure you rank locally for the keywords that fit your offerings? Now is a great time to look into the simple things you can do to rank higher in Google search results.
Boosting Your Listings: If you’re listed on The Knot, Wedding Wire, Party Slate, and other event industry directories consider taking the time to solicit reviews and add any updates.
Cold Networking: Look, this one won’t feel great at first, but the event community has, in many ways, rallied around. Now is a great time to reach out cold to your fellow local event professionals and introduce yourself. Even if only via email. It’s a great time to expand your network.
YouTube Videos: I’ve seen several excellent YouTube videos like this one by Kate & Keith Photography, in New England. They’re using their coronavirus quarantine to create videos sharing advice with clients and potential clients.
Marketing is a long term habit
Marketing is something of a skill, but the key element is consistency. Building any capability requires an upfront commitment of time and practice. But once it’s rolling, a new marketing channel will feel natural. So if your business took a hit, now is the time to regroup and do something beneficial for yourself.