I had a great experience last week. I’ve written a TON of proposals as an event planner and while many of them have looked different, I’ve definitely taken what I’ve learned along the way and improved my overall proposal process dramatically.
Last week I wrote a proposal for a great client and sent her all the information I knew she would need to make a decision. But unlike some clients who just don’t get back to you or follow up weeks later to tell you that they’ve gone with someone else, this client responded with a list of questions that she had been using to evaluate all the different proposals she got to compare apples to apples. Some of what she asked had already been covered, but some of it had not been addressed in my proposal.
Now I understand that this is just one client’s perspective on what information they need to evaluate the perfect event planner, but I found the act of responding to these questions separate from the proposal to be really interesting and it reminded me that there are a few basic things that many event planners simply overlook in their proposals. It’s a lesson I learned for myself last week so I thought I would share some of the things I learned with you!
Ensure a certain level of understanding
Whenever we work with new clients, we try to educate them on the overall event planning process and ensure that they understand the role we will play in helping them create a strategic and goal-oriented event. But I think it’s easy to overlook how little a corporation or organization might know about the event planning process.
For example – maybe they assume that they will sell a certain number of tickets at a certain price point and that informs their budget. But most of them do not know to think about comps and discounts and affiliate codes and all the things that will be needed to fill an event. Once they calculate these additional discounts, their overall budget might end up being a lot less than what they imagined.
But if they don’t know to think about those things, they don’t really have a good idea of what their event scope will be. If we can educate our clients on some basic event planning strategies and show that we have a good working knowledge of throwing strategic events, we can showcase our expertise and also help them make more informed decisions on who they want to work with.
I know it’s always difficult when we’re writing a proposal to know who we are competing against. We don’t know who the other event planners are who are putting their hat in the ring or what their proposals look like. So I think a lot of us spend time talking about how we are differentiated as a company.
That is a great thing to share, but I don’t think enough of us talk about how we are differentiated based on the kind of events that we produce. Whether you’re a very strategic planner or great at reducing budgets or very interested in engagement – sharing your vision for an ideal event is a great way to help the client understand whether or not you will be a good fit for them. Painting this picture of what their event will look like and how that will set them apart from the other events like theirs is as important as talking about how your company is better than the others.
Sometimes, our clients ask us for things to include in our scope that we don’t necessarily feel comfortable with. And this is something that is a fair balance. Especially after watching the Hulu and Netflix documentaries on the Fyre Festival this weekend, I realize how easy it is for event planners to oversell their services in the hopes of getting the business and then assume they’ll “figure it out later“. But the truth is – there is some risk in that line of thinking and I think we need to be very cautious about how we go about listing our services when they are outside of our typical scope of work. Whether it’s a larger project than you’ve ever worked on before or simply something you know you’re not good at, we need to be very honest about where our skill set lies. That doesn’t mean you can never try something new, but
Proposals are so tricky so I’d love to hear what tips you have for writing strong proposals that win you the business. I am learning every day and will continue to share. I hope you will too!