As event pros, our downtime is few and far between, which is why using your off-season strategically is so important to your brand’s success. As this year comes to a close, it’s the perfect opportunity to touch on using your downtime to prepare your lead management process for the upcoming booking season (FYI, 80% of event professionals surveyed expect they’ll be as busy or busier in 2019). We’ve rounded up six pro tips for becoming the captain of the close in 2019 and putting the power of Aisle Planner into every step of the way to not just booking new clients, but booking the right ones. From fast-and-easy templates to our Lead Manager that tracks your leads at every touch point, read on for a breakdown of all the resources you can leverage to get from “Nice to meet you” to “Sign on the dotted line” faster than you can say I Do.
1. Great first impressions are worth making.
Like the old adage says, you never get a second chance for one. And, with competition seemingly ever increasing in the event space, it’s never been more important to make sure you’re showing your prospective new clients your best side all the time and everywhere. Do a quick check of every site and social media channel you market your business on, including your Aisle Planner listing. Make sure your descriptions, contact information and links are up-to-date. Refresh those hero images with pictures of your latest work and update any photo galleries (hint: this is where sweet-talking your favorite photogs really pays off). The proof is in the picture pudding, so to speak, so put your best foot forward and select those standout events from your past year.
2. Get the answers you need, without investing a ton of time.
When it comes to leads, every pro knows you’re vetting a potential client as much as they’re vetting you. That’s why we’ve added customizable lead contact forms to our library of pro tools. These questionnaires allow you to get all the information you need without having to invest valuable time and energy into creating unique ways to extract information from every individual who inquires about your services. If you don’t already have your lead contact forms customized, take some time to develop a great set of questions that covers the necessary event or project bases but also let’s the lead share a little bit of personality. This shows the potential client that you’re interested in making a personal connection with them and, likewise, they can show you what kind of client they might be. If you do have some unique questionnaires in place, do a quick survey of them to make sure they’re still current and reflect your product and service offerings, and are delivering all the information you need about the event up front.
By putting a little work in while it’s quiet - as if it's ever quiet - you can ensure your questionnaires will work for you to filter out the leads that aren’t likely to go anywhere from the ones that have more potential. Plus, you’ll have tons of helpful information about the clients you do choose to work with automatically saved to their Lead Record... all of which you collected in your sleep (mic drop).
3. Develop templates for faster communication.
In our increasingly digital world, faster is always better. Potential clients expect a speedy, seamless proposal process—if you’re slow to respond or take too long to get them a contract to sign, they may just find another pro to work with instead. The problem, though? You’re pretty much always busy. So how do you balance managing current clients while still responding to potential new ones in a timely manner? One word: templates. (Hallelujah!) Head to your Aisle Planner dashboard and select the “documents” tab to begin building out a library of branded templates for things like your proposal, quote, contract, and invoices. By having these critical documents already built out, you can respond to potential clients’ inquiries with effective and exquisitely designed documents as soon as you receive they reach out instead of hammering out a last-minute, typo-laden email from your smart phone from the back of a venue, in the middle of an event.
4. Personalize the proposal process.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the second wedding you’ve planned or your 70th, potential clients want to feel like their event is as important to you as it is to them. Start their client experience off right with a personalized proposal process. Welcome letters and proposal templates that you can personalize for each client make all the difference. The key is to save time by starting with a foundational template (like we mentioned above)—but go the extra mile by making small tweaks to the content that speak specifically to a potential client’s vision and overall style. And, remember: personalization goes both ways—be sure to brand your proposals, contracts, and invoices with your logo and colors for a professional, cohesive aesthetic at every touch point. You can do this by heading to your Settings within your Aisle Planner account and selecting the “branding” tab.
5. Build your social media presence.
Just as with your directory listings or ads on Facebook, booking new clients starts at the very first impression. These days, the vast majority of those all-important first impressions are happening on social media. Whether for prospective clients finding you directly from “the ‘Gram” or heading to check out your Pinterest boards after they’ve browsed your website, there’s no escaping the importance of it. Look for opportunities to use your social media page to tell your brand’s story in order to attract and book that ideal client who connects with the individual personality and style oozing from every post. That might mean showing more discretion and posting only the best events you've executed rather than every one—or it might mean partnering up with other event pros who complement your services (if you’re a floral designer for example, partner up with a caterer or décor rental company) for social sharing opportunities like Instagram takeovers or guest blogs.
6. Stay on top of the booking process at every stage.
With our event backgrounds, we knew we wanted Aisle Planner to include features that took care of the same major problem we had: a convoluted and easy-to-lose-track-of proposal process. With all that event pros have to juggle at once, it's so easy to forget about that potential client we spoke with last week or to forget what stage we’re at in the proposal process. Our Lead Manager tool completely eliminates this issue by allowing you to track leads throughout the entirety of the booking process—from initial inquiry all the way through signed contract and deposit invoice. You can even customize the status options for your booking process to ensure the Lead Manager completely parallels your specific workflow.