A few days ago, I had an interesting talk with a colleague about what it takes to launch a business. We both agreed that, when one is first starting out, there are so many things people don't tell you. For example, conventional wisdom used to be that it was important to save 3 months worth of living expenses before taking the plunge. In a volatile economy, 1 to 2 years would be more prudent. Also, when it comes to marketing, while a lot of advice still stresses the importance of ads, directories, etc., people who have been in business for a long time will highlight the need for strong Internet presence and constant networking with former clients, colleagues and family. While peer networking is essential for skill development and to keep abreast of trends, few referrals actually come from networking with peers. To network, be sure to go where your potential customers go.
Here is a quick overview of 16 important steps to take before launching your event planning business (or any business).
- Select a niche based on your expertise and experience.
Identify a specific target market but be prepared to make a shift if that market segment begins to decline.
Up until 2001, most of my company's clients came from wireless communications or IT. This shifted dramatically after the dot com bubble burst.
- To test your potential for success, create a list of at least 50 potential clients within that market niche. If you can't, your niche is too narrow.
- Do a competitive analysis. Identify your competitors and what they have to offer in terms of services, expertise and pricing.
Prepare a simple marketing grid to summarize your marketing strategy and review it with a professional marketing consultant.
Identify the 6 key ingredients of your marketing mix:
- Product or Service.
- Person (Target market including demographics profile.)
- Place (Where you can connect with target market....this will drive your distribution and promotional strategy).
- Promotional Strategy.
- Positioning (e.g. luxury, moderate, affordable).
- Identify what is unique about your offering and develop a short and targeted statement to convey what distinguishes you from the competition.
Boil your offer down to a simple elevator pitch. You should be able to summarize your offer in the following format:
"We specialize in _______________ to help (your target market) + a specific tangible benefit for your clients."
- Let all friends, business colleagues and relatives know about your plans to launch business. Get their feedback about your concept, strategies and names that you are considering. Ask for their support in spreading the word and generating leads.
- Select a name for your business.
- Be sure to find out local business registration requirements and comply with them.
- Register your business name as a .com domain and on all social media channels.
- Invest in a professionally designed logo and business cards.
- Invest in a professionally designed website.
- Create enough content for your blog for the first few months.
- Build your online and face-to-face network by reaching out to business associates, colleagues and prospective suppliers.
In addition to online marketing, use a variety of off-line strategies to market your business.
Off-line marketing will be visible as a lot of companies have reduced spending in this area.
For more marketing and branding tips, also consult 10 Marketing Strategies for Event Planners in Periods of Uncertainty.
Photo Credit: +isn4