When I first started my business, I wasn’t sure how much to charge. Even when I figured out my pricing structure, when it came to putting it on paper, I was always nervous it was going to be too much. I didn’t know my value – and worse – my clients didn’t know either.
It was a few years into a certain client’s event that I decided that the value I brought to the table was not being rewarded. It was my own fault, but I was charging way too little because I just wanted to “get the business” and I was afraid of claiming what I really thought I deserved. It was a tough time in my company – trying to take LKE from a side business to a serious FT business – and part of that transition was learning to charge what I believed I was worth (and building a business that reflected that value). I ended up raising my prices 4X that year and it has been a more successful business ever since.
I don’t get every client, but I do get the ones that are perfect for me. This is important – and the process to get here was long, but worth every second. Here are a few tips I have if you’re looking to change the perception of your business, uplevel and see exponential growth!
1. TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY AS A BUSINESS
The first step in getting other people to respect you as a legit planner who is worth paying for – is to take yourself seriously. This isn’t a side business. It’s not a hobby. If you want to make a full-time income, you’ve got to make this your biggest priority. I’ve found that focusing on your planning as a serious business does a few things.
(1) It helps you believe that you bring something very special and unique to the table. You know how hard you work and you want to be paid accordingly.
(2) Your activity is evident to all those around you – they take you more seriously, expect to spend more money and determine that they want to work with you for a specific value you bring to the table.
If you’re working with a full-time effort and want to command higher revenue, you’ve got to make it look legitimate. This would include spending your time on:
- Branding yourself as a high-class planner. This mandates that you focus on your BRILLIANCE and brand yourself accordingly. Yes – choosing a niche is important!
- A strong marketing plan. If you’re spending hours and hours working on your business, some of that time should be on strong social media posts, an updated website, updated LinkedIn profile and a strong marketing plan.
- A defined, well-branded proposal process. What do your prospective clients receive from you the second they’re interested? What is your proposal process and how does it speak to your ideal target clients? If it’s giving away too much up front or not communicating your value, you’re going to lose more potential clients than you could ever find.
In short, when everything you do looks like a successful business that provides a unique value to a specific target audience, you’re on the right path!
2. CHARGE ETHICALLY AND APPROPRIATELY
It’s not fair to our clients, or to ourselves, to make pricing a guessing game. The price of the day shouldn’t be based on how you feel or how rich your client is. At the end of the day, you’re selling a service that has an associated price. You’re an event planner and that means you’re involved in various aspects of throwing an event. Maybe you’re more on the management side or full production, but you should know your service listings.
In determining how to charge, I’ve found a few pricing models that exist in our industry. Some do one way, others make a hybrid version, and still others make it up as they go along. Here are 3 popular pricing models I’ve seen and my opinions on each.
- A PERCENTAGE OF THE BUDGET
This model is simple – planners who charge this way take a % of their total budget. So let’s say your client has a $100,000 budget and you take 20%, you get paid $20,000 (Look ma, I just did math!).This is very straightforward, but not my favorite way to charge because it has no reflection on the work you will need to do. Let’s say the client’s budget is $100,000, but they want you to manage 100 speakers. They may not be paying these speakers so it’s doesn’t factor into their budget, but managing 100 speakers is a HUGE, time-consuming task. You’ve really got to make sure your % is fair if you’re using this model.
- A FLAT FEE
I’ll be honest – I’m not 100% sure how people figure this model out (which is why I don’t do it), but the general concept is that there is a flat fee. For example – on-site wedding management is $2,500 and full wedding management is $5,000. I’m guessing this is based on average workload, but I also have a feeling this changes frequently based on the whim of the day – and the projected “budget” of the client.
- A PROJECT FEE BASED ON PROJECTED # OF HOURS
This is the model I love the most, and it’s what I use for all of our clients. I lay out a very specific scope of work. Like -VERY specific – and then use that to determine how many hours I think I will have to spend. Of course, I also include staff time as well. This estimation of hours is then multiplied by my hourly rate and then given as a flat fee. So – if I end up spending more time than I thought, that’s my fault. My clients don’t pay more. If I spend less time (which RARELY happens), I still get paid the same flat fee. But – I do reduce for the client the next time around to make sure it’s in line with reality so they aren’t overpaying.The reason I love this model so much is that it’s a direct reflection of the work. If I give a proposal for $40,000 and my client can only afford $10,000, I can still take the contract by reducing the scope and lessening my fee. I know how much work I’ll need to do, and reducing my fee and scope allows me to take on other clients. It’s also much more transparent to the client as they know they’re being charged only for work I’m doing. It helps me when the client’s budget is lower than my proposal – I don’t just have to do all the same work for the same price.
Now just because the third model is my favorite, doesn’t mean it’s the only right answer. You have to find a solution that you feel comfortable with. The main goal here is to decide on a pricing model – make it clear to your clients – and stick with it. If you know HOW you charge, you can then determine HOW MUCH!
3. STICK TO YOUR GUNS
If we want our clients to take us seriously, we have to take ourselves seriously. And the biggest way we do that is sticking to our pricing strategy. Once you’ve done the two things above, you’re really sure that you deliver great value to your clients. You’re also clear on HOW you price your services and HOW MUCH makes sense for each project. Once you’ve established this – you come to the hardest part of all – sticking to your guns.
Remember that story I told in the beginning about raising my prices by 4X? Well the first time I did that, I lost the client. They couldn’t understand why I had to raise my prices so much and they didn’t value the work that I brought to the table. It was a hard loss and I really had to push through a lot of doubt and uncertainty about this new pricing strategy. But you know what? After 2 years, that same client came back and paid the 4X amount. They had hired other companies and didn’t get the same quality – and when they came back – they knew why I was worth every penny.
I know this is easier to say than to do, but when you truly believe in the value you bring to the table, you take yourself seriously, and you have a smart pricing strategy – you will find that the right clients are the ones who will pay you. You’ll have to let the ones who don’t see your value fall away. You’ll lose some business. You might even lose some of your best current customers.
But you’re also opening the doors to a whole new ballgame.
When you brand yourself and price accordingly, you open up all new doors.
- Clients who love you and will pay top dollar to work with you.
- New revenue opportunities from thought leadership.
- No more justifying your value every step of the way and arguing with clients who don’t have clear expectations.
- Getting paid WELL for work you LOVE to do.
It may not be easy, which is why many people don’t do it, but those who take the time to walk this path will be some of the most powerful event hustlers in the business!
This may be one of the largest articles I’ve ever written, but raising your prices is not a simple task. It’s a lot of work and there are a lot of nuances. I found out (the hard way) that much of this takes support from people who have been there before.
If you’re ready to take action on these items and could use some help, there are a few ways I support entrepreneurs like you!
- FREE PODCASTS: The “I’ve Been Thinking” podcast is a 3-5 min. series I’ve been doing to inspire you in your thinking as an event business owner. You can listen at the gym, in the car, or anywhere you have some time to challenge your thinking about your business!
- MEETUPS: Sometimes you need to get out of your office and swap war stories with other independent planners who are going through the same things. I’ve found there aren’t many resources for independent event planners so I created a space for us to get the networking we need – planners only so you won’t spend your night being pitched by vendors. Instead – you’ll be able to share war stories and best practices that arm you for success.
- DEFINE YOUR BRILLIANCE: One of the things I’ve noticed is that so many independent event planners have a hard time defining their unique value. And if they know what it is, they’re scared of “niche”ing. But this step is SO CRITICAL to growing your business. In this one-on-one short consulting, we’ll work together to find YOUR brilliance – so you can see the ripple effects of defining your value throughout your entire business.
- IGNITE: If you’re ready to really dive in and uplevel, this year-long mentorship and consulting program is a life-changer. The eventprofs who have been through this course have seen a dramatic difference in their perception of their businesses, but more importantly, so have their clients. We work on defining your brand, up-leveling your business, raising your prices, finding the right clients and bringing in more revenue by leveraging thought leadership. This takes you from the roller coaster of entrepreneurship and puts you on the path towards sustainable revenue and a growing business.
Have you ever worked on an event with no budget (or VERY small)? How do you handle it? Here are my thoughts on this mini podcast (only 5 min listen!)
I’ve got my Starbucks locked and loaded and I’m ready to hit Monday with a vengeance. When you love what you do, you can look forward to a productive Monday, rather than dreading it. Here are a few of my Monday practices that keep me on track all week long.
Update my calendar.
I block out time for all the priority projects I need to tackle that week. I also schedule all the calls I know I’ll need to take and make sure I know what is on my cal for the entire week. This helps me professionally and personally – so I understand what I have ahead of me and can plan accordingly.
Clean out my inbox.
There’s no better feeling than a well-managed inbox so I spend the first few hours of Monday morning combing through my emails and getting back to anything I missed the previous week. If you missed my latest post on managing your inbox, here are some of my tips for getting to Inbox Zero!
Set my daily goals.
With competing prorities, a set task list can be hard to follow. There’s always something popping up and throwing us off. So – my latest technique is to set just a single daily goal – the BIGGEST thing I absolutely MUST achieve each day of the week. That way – no matter what pops up, I have one big business thing to focus on before I can call the day successful. While smaller tasks can get moved around, my BIG priority must be accomplished. Even better – I try to accomplish that task first thing so I start my day feeling productive!
Tired of watching people with half your experience make twice as much as you?
If you’re looking for tips on standing out in the crowded events industry and making money planning your dream events, don’t miss our inaugural IGNITE program – the growth plan for #eventprofs designed around my experience building and growing Liz King Events.
Do you find it difficult to respond to all the emails in your inbox, and sort through all the junk? Our inboxes have become command central for our businesses, and learning to manage them well is incredibly important.
In this newsletter, I want to offer you 3 tips that I’ve learned in my years as a professional planner to dramatically minimize the time wasted and allows me to spend more time in pursuit of my ideal clients.
1. REDUCE YOUR EMAIL LOAD WITH UNROLL.ME
This is one of my favorite tools for cleaning up your inbox. Just link it to your email account and it will pull up all of your subscriptions. Go through them one-by-one and unsubscribe with one click or do it in bulk. And – even better yet – for the ones you want to keep (like my west elm subscription and techsytalk :P), you can roll them up into a single digest so you only get ONE marketing email per week that holds all your favorite pieces of information.
I’ve found this DRAMATICALLY reduces my email load and helps me focus on getting back to clients and getting through the time-sensitive responses.
2. MANAGE INTERNAL TEAM COMMUNICATIONS WITH SLACK
This tool was built to help teams communicate more seamlessly and efficiently. You know those long group-chat thread emails that get longer and longer? Imagine moving those OUT of your inbox and INTO a place that’s more effective? You can organize conversations by topic or project – add people only to relevant conversations – and attach files, emojis and gifs. And, best of all, the platform is FREE to use and totally searchable, up to 10,000 messages (at which point it’s about $6/month per user!)
3. GET MORE WORK DONE, WITH LESS INTERRUPTIONS USING GMAIL OFFLINE
Event planners are known as road warriors. But whether you’ll be flying in the air without wifi access or you just need to focus on cleaning out your inbox, this Gmail Offline extension for the Chrome browser, downloads your emails and then lets you respond, sort and work as if you were online. Then – as soon as you have connection – it automatically updates your inbox to match all the work you did. I like the idea of using this for an hour a day to get through emails without the distractions of social media or new emails popping in every 2 minutes!
For more tips and tricks to manage your events business, check out our IGNITE program, packed with education, community and all the resources you need to take your business from struggling to SOARING!
If you’re anything like us, you’re always on the go – balancing clients with domestic and international travel. You’d like to stay on top of the business side of things, but it’s a challenge.
We get it.
But if one of your goals was getting on top of your business in 2018, here are 3 business apps that we absolutely depend to operate more efficiently.
If you spend WAY too much of your time writing proposals, this online tool will save you TONS of time, make you look more professional and even handles the signing/payment process for your contracts. I love how easy it is to customize proposals from templates we create that reflect our brand look and feel. We can drag in sections of a contract or line items in a budget and deliver the proposal at record speed. We also love the analytics so we can see how much time they spent looking at each part of the proposal!
For those of you driving all over, this app is priceless. It uses location tracking on your phone to track all of your drives – including your starting location and mileage. Then – you simply login and swipe right for business travel and left for personal. Each month, it’ll deliver a report that can easily be imported into Quickbooks or any accounting software and you’ve got your eye on your mileage reimbursements with very little time or effort!
Finally, this app is one we use all. the. time. Whether you’re tracking reimbursable expenses for your client or for your annual accounting, this app makes tracking expenses on the go seamless. Take a pic of your receipt, track it, and then run any reports you need, any time!
Unless your company is already financially sound, you’re probably going to heavily rely on corporate sponsorship for funding your event. Unfortunately, acquiring sponsorship isn’t as easy as just sending out a request via email. Sponsors are bombarded with dozens of request letters hardly different from your own.
Here are six secrets to up your prospects of securing sponsorship and cultivating a long-term relationship with event sponsors.
1. Check Sponsor Guidelines, if Applicable
Some companies sponsor events so often that they have created their own guidelines that outline their terms and conditions and application instructions. Review the guidelines if one is available and be careful not to include anything in your proposal that runs counter to the funding rules.
Some companies, for example, only sponsor during certain times of the year. Don’t be requesting event sponsorship for your March conference when the company is only providing funds during fall and winter. Likewise, don’t request a fund of $10,000 when the guideline clearly states that $8,000 is the maximum it provides.
2. Outline What You’re Willing to Provide in Return
Sponsors aren’t sponsoring your event out of altruism. They do it because they get exposure out of it in return. Your Proposal should outline in detail what you’re willing to give in return for the funds. You should include some sort of tiered system.
The following is an example of what is meant by this:
- Tier 1: $1,000 sponsorship – include sponsor logo on two swag items
- Tier 2: $2,000 sponsorship – include sponsor logo on digital signage
- Tier 3: $3,000 sponsorship – allow sponsor representative to speak for 10 minutes before conference presentation.
- Tier 4: $4,000 sponsorship – allow sponsor to set up a booth at the venue
- Tier 5: $5,000+ sponsorship – all of the above
The sponsor may also want to negotiate. Perhaps they’re interested in tier 1 but want their logo on three swag items. Be willing to negotiate to come to an agreement beneficial for both parties.
3. Foster a Long-Term Relationship
It’s easier to retain an existing sponsor than to find a new one. This is why you need to make an effort to keep the ones you managed to acquire. To remain on their good side, do some nice things for the sponsor even after the event. Perhaps you can write a positive review of one of the sponsor’s products or even offer some incentive to your followers who click your link and purchase the product.
By continuing to exhibit a gesture of goodwill, the sponsors will view your company favorably come time for your next event.
4. Be an Active Partner in Your Sponsor’s Charity
Some companies are actively involved in a charity or even have one they started themselves. Offer to do something for the charity. Maybe you can invite a representative to the event and allow that person to speak to your audience.
You should continue to be an active contributor for the charity after the event. You can create a video about the organization with a donation link, or volunteer some of your staff to partake in the charity’s own events.
A charity organization is a common collective that brings you and your sponsor closer together. If you are already active in a charity and your sponsor isn’t, then offer to make them an honorary participant in the organization. This will surely benefit the sponsor’s branding by adding a philanthropic aspect to their image.
5. Consider a Limited-Time Offer
It’s commonplace for for-profit companies to routinely provide special offers, such as 24-hour-only deals or promotional giveaway events.
The idea is to drive traffic to stores or online shops. You can do something similar when courting your sponsors. If you have reached out to multiple sponsors at once, then you can give a special offer to the first sponsor that signs on.
For instance, if you’re using a tier system like the one outlined earlier, then maybe you give the sponsor the next highest tier benefit (i.e. tier 3 benefits for tier 2 contribution).
You should make efforts to nurture sponsors the way you nurture customers throughout a sales process.
6. Pre-event Sponsor Powwow
Do you know what brings people together better than anything else? Food and drinks. Obviously, sponsors want a piece of your consumer base. You can do this by hosting a smaller get-together event in the days leading up to the main conference. This will be mainly for the attendees to get to know the sponsor and their products. Make it a food-centric event with plenty of refreshments served.
Of course, hosting a separate event is a whole new undertaking and entails additional expenses. Since this event is for the sponsors, let them know that you’ll help organize it if they completely foot the expenses.
Event management also includes your interactions with your sponsors. Sponsorship is a win-win solution for both parties, so make it known what your event brings to the table. A successful event means success for the sponsors since they benefit from the brand exposure. Show prospect sponsors why your proposal is a golden goose for them.
14th December 2016
For Immediate Release
One of Australasia’s longest standing event app companies, ShowGizmo is announcing a new focus on Associations for 2017.
Since launching one of the world’s first event apps in 2010, ShowGizmo has now powered thousands of events throughout the world with their suite of native whitelabel and owned event apps. “We’ve served clients from all industries and sectors over the years, as event people as well as mobile specialists. Helping to create awesome events has always been a huge driving force for us,” said CEO and Co- Founder, Marie-Claire Andrews. The company was recently named one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 in the APAC region.
“Our experience with Associations in Australasia and the USA have consistently been positive, we really love the collaborations that Associations foster, and we want to continue to help make that a possibility for these vital organisations by ensuring their requirements are front and centre for our product development,” said Marie-Claire.
In a nod of more to come, ShowGizmo has confirmed 2017 partnerships with two of Australasia’s leading Association industry bodies: The Australasian Society for Association Executives and Associations Forum. Both will be utilising ShowGizmo’s technology as a year-round platform to digitise the way they communicate with their members.
“Face to face events are still our core business, and we’re going to continue supporting them as always, but we want to help Associations and other organisations leverage the possibilities that year-round mobile interactions offer. Our partnerships with AuSAE and Associations Forum is a sign of great things to come!” explained ShowGizmo’s COO, Ryan O’Connor.
David Browne, Executive Officer of the Professional Teachers’ Council (PTC) NSW is looking forward to showcasing his 45 member associations a digital platform throughout 2017, “I’m excited to offer the platform and I’m confident of great adoption, not only because of the opportunities to cross promote events, but because our app will also be an attractive tool for our associations to attract sponsorship.”
Marketing Executive at ShowGizmo
Sara Moll from VinSocial
Along the winding wine-fueled journey from Creative Director to Wine Professional to Entrepreneur, I discovered a need to redefine the way we experience wine. I found many wine tastings to be a bit stuffy, overly technical, and (dare I say) boring.
I created VIN SOCIAL to voraciously explore the world of wine though my creative lens and spotlight wines and winemakers that excite and inspire me – handcrafted, sustainably-produced wines with a story – a sense of place – a heartbeat.
We design innovative, multi-sensory experiences for the curious and the open-minded – gatherings that spark conversation and leave an impression. We believe wine is a journey. We simply create opportunities for exploration and discovery. I invite you to travel through the glass with us.
Check out this recent webinar, featuring yours truly, about tech tools that can boost your event ROI here