By far the most important tactic in marketing your event planning business is by building your network of referral partners and getting the word out by being seen around town. Although many service-based business owners find getting out and pressing the flesh fairly intimidating, wedding planners by nature are usually very gregarious people who really enjoy meeting new people and engaging in small talk (which is what networking is all about), so hopefully this doesn’t intimidate you.
Not all networking events or venues are equal, and some may not even seem like networking venues. For instance, if you frequent a place of worship, that place certainly does not come to mind as a place to network. However, it is a place where you have established close relationships with people, and you can offer seminars and organize events at your place of worship to educate other people about wedding-related topics. This way you are being helpful to your close friends while setting yourself up as the go-to expert when it comes to weddings and events.
This brings up a good point about establishing yourself as the expert on your subject matter. Look to provide free seminars and events where you offer a hour of advice and ideas on wedding-related topics. Many professional believe that this actually costs them business because you are giving away all your good ideas, but trust me … if a bride doesnt’ want to plan her wedding herself, that little morsel of knowledge you share will only convince her more to go with you because you know so much more. (And any bride who is determined to do it herself will never, regardless of how much you market to her, hire a wedding planner. In fact, she may still plan her own wedding but refer a friend to you because of the small amount of info she learned from you. In networking, you must give before you receive.)
Other good places to develop relationships are civic organizations (like Rotary, which also is founded on a great cause) or your local Chamber of Commerce (here’s a directory of directory of U.S. Chambers). Also, you should consider joining a wedding planner related organization, like the Association of Bridal Consultants, which has local chapters where you can network with vendors and other people who could refer you work.
Speaking of vendors … you should look to develop strong ties with vendors who are both great at what they do and who also network and market themselves well, because they certainly will have bridal clients who at some point may need your services.
More to come on marketing your wedding and event planner business (and on using our wedding and event consultant software).