There is no question that referrals are an essential part of any successful event planning business. While advertising, social media, and marketing are all extremely valuable assets, boosting your referral business could be the solution for taking your company to the next level. From Amazon comments to Yelp reviews, today’s millennials want to see that third-party recognition before taking the plunge to try something new.
In the world of events, referrals often come from word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family members, as well as other vendors. In addition to being a great way to garner new clients, it also is a way for prospects to be more or less pre-qualified by those who know your work. Here are some of the ways we make sure to stay on people’s minds.
Embrace Your Expertise
People will only send referral business your way if they found your products or services to be useful and of high quality. With that in mind, be sure that the majority of your time is invested in doing what you do best. If you are a pro at floral arrangements, take the necessary efforts to improve your trade and move up the ranks in the local market. The better you are at your skills, the more people will gush about your offerings.
The challenge here is learning to say “NO”. You don’t have to do everything, but if you focus on getting a few things right, a higher percentage of clients will be back for more.
As great as your products or services are, people tend to recommend only those that were friendly and accommodating. An incredible event after a grueling and unpleasant planning process does not call for a referral. Client experience is key – the journey to the event should be as enjoyable as possible for everyone involved. Be friendly and open with clients, creative partners and anyone else you cross paths along the way – not only will it build your referral business, but it will also make the whole event process much smoother!
Volunteer Your Time
This works especially well for building your B2B brand in your industry. Networking is the quickest way to meet other event professionals in a position to refer business to your company. Look into local industry associations that you can be a part of and volunteer to sponsor one of the events. This not only gives you the opportunity to work alongside other great professionals, but it also is a way to showcase your products or services to a group of like-minded individuals.
Stay In Touch
This goes for both clients and vendors – staying in touch is a surefire way to guarantee that you are on their mind when somebody asks for a recommendation. Remember: Just because an event ends doesn’t mean you have to cut all ties with everyone! We like to check in with our clients with holiday cards, as well as regularly interacting with them through social media. It’s always nice to stay up to date on their lives, plus it reminds them how great of a day they had with us!]
For other event professionals, on the other hand, we like to take a creative approach. In addition to our annual holiday cards, we also like to do a little something special in the middle of the year – this gives us the benefit of the element of surprise. For example, we sent popsicles to all of our creative partners in the heat of summer and, with the California sun blazing, it certainly made an impression with everyone.
As you grow your referral business, remember to always send along your thanks for any recommendations – even if it doesn’t turn into an account. Also, don’t forget that you are also in a position to refer others, so don’t hesitate to send your clients over to a trusted professional.