The second most important thing next to staging a world-class event is the front and back-end promotion. By that I mean, cultivating referrals from your clients/vendors/attendees. Promoting your services for other events to this base of referral business requires careful, strategic, ongoing planning. You could turn one event into many with the right marketing mix. It’s the personal attention, the details and the relationships you build that will create this flood of referrals.
Create information cards that will be your resource for referrals. The cards should be completed for both clients and vendors. Vendors can be a great source for referrals and should be treated with the same care and personal attention as the clients. Information on the cards should include:
- Names and birth dates of family members
- Wedding anniversary, and other special dates such as # of years in business or with the same company
- Interests of each family member to include hobbies, talents and accomplishments
- Place of employment of client and spouse
- Special designations, offices or memberships of client
- Corporate client cards to include information of your contact within the corporation and the CEO
- Birth dates of key personnel within the company
- Any annual celebrations the company hosts
Ask your client for an evaluation immediately following the event. Make it brief and concise. Send the evaluation with a thank you note. Be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Ask one or two open-ended questions to elicit candor. Ask the client to be open and honest about all aspects of the event you were involved in.
Handle any complaints professionally and proficiently. Do not allow time to lapse before addressing complaints. Handling and correcting complaints quickly will solidify the relationship, and increase your chances of working with the client in the future. Remember the statistics which imply that when a complaint is handled quickly and favorably, 87% of those who complain will do business with the “offending” party again. You’ve worked so hard to get the client; in most cases, it’s much easier to keep a client than find a new one.
If it is appropriate, it would be a good idea to send an evaluation form to your vendors eliciting their opinions of the event and be sure to include a “ways to improve” comment section.
Send thank you notes to your vendors, catering and sales professionals and any and all of those may have had a hand in ensuring the success of the project. Thank you notes go a long way especially when you find yourself in a jam at one time or another. If you have been doing this for any length of time, you have probably needed to find a last minute replacement for the entertainment or photographer or a speaker. You know the importance of appreciation.
Once the event is over, while it is still fresh in the minds of your client, ask for a testimonial or letter of referral. Happy clients are happy to oblige. However, they may be very busy and when too much time passes, they may forget. If you do not receive the letter within a week or two after the event, follow up. Graciously ask them if they would not mind you writing the letter for them, and fax or e-mail it to them. Tell them you use these letters in your promotional kits and their testimonial would be greatly appreciated. Busy people are happy to accommodate your requests when you make it easier to do business with you.
About the author
© 2005 – Heidi Richards is the author of The PMS Principles, Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business and 7 other books. She is also the Founder & CEO of the Women’s ECommerce Association, International www.WECAI.org (pronounced wee-kî) – an Internet organization that “Helps Women Do Business on the WEB.” Basic Membership is FREE. Ms. Richards can be reached at Heidi@speakingwithspirit.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.