When I was younger and really trying to impress my boss at the time, I thought I might take it upon myself to organize and manage a corporate event. Two things happened as a result:
- I realized the hubris in attempting such a thing (ouch) and that the undertaking itself was nothing like I had imagined it might be. This was certainly true in regards to the colossal size and scope of the effort, especially in doing it right and meeting the boss’s expectations.
- The experience actually altered the direction of my career path as I soon decided to devote my professional life to it, as it appeared to be a “real skill” and not an easily acquired one.
So, as an owner and founder of a professional event company myself, I thought I might share a few ideas that could prove useful in helping to convince someone in my position to vie for your business, assuming that you are a smaller company wishing to be considered as seriously as larger firms who might offer more elaborate and lucrative contracts. There is always a certain number of smaller jobs an events company might consider as they, of course, like to cultivate relationships with those who inspire confidence and present the possibility of more business opportunities down the road, no matter their company’s size. The enthusiasm on the part of the typical agency can be heightened quite significantly if one simply remembers the following truths:
Big agencies don’t like having to pitch themselves-
Like a famous actor who is “offer only” and refuses to bother with an audition for a role, big agencies may sometimes not need to bother wasting time, effort and money in convincing someone to hire them. Their track record should speak for itself. But still, you don’t want to hire the first agency right out of the shoot, certainly without knowing a little more than what can be gleaned from a Google search. Once you have a face-to-face, ask yourself if they were pleasant to be around and if you would be comfortable in working with them. Besides the obvious previous professional history, there are several things that are important to learn and only a meeting in person can reveal many of these crucial tid-bits. Remember this is the person running your show in a potentially high stress situation. How they present themselves to you in a meeting can be very revealing.
How to get big agencies to help anyway- A way to get the major players to pitch their event company to you and, in the process, to potentially provide you with great ideas and insights is for you to come in fully prepared. The first step is contacting these companies and asking for a person in management to discuss your specific needs. Having your own well-practiced, polished, concise and natural introduction about yourself will help tremendously in keeping an individual’s attention. It will help also if you have already determined some of the logistics. For example, the number of guests, the venue, and, especially, the conceptual design of the event (the overall idea and concept) are helpful foundational points. If you can come up with this on your own you will be in good shape because this is a time-consuming effort that requires a thorough understanding of a client’s business. Here’s a tip: Focus more on bringing your ideas to life through “their” creative lens. That’s a whole different story than placing the burden on them for coming up with the concept from scratch.
Some skin in the game- If you create a complete concept and go shopping for agencies, you should put aside some budget in order to help the candidate agency defray some of the costs in putting your concept together for a full and proper quote. Pay an appropriate amount to show your sincere interest in their co-operation, say $1000 or so. The agency will love you for that and deliver awesome conceptual design. They, in turn, can stop worrying about losing the job and coming out of the whole exercise having lost money. Keep in mind that the good agencies get lots of inquiries every day and they have to filter through the less than attractive ones. How professional is the client, how profitable the job might be and how earnest the pitch seems all contribute to you being taken more seriously.
Spaghetti on the wall effect- Many clients will send out an inquiry to 10 agencies and wait for the cheapest offer. That’s a no-no. Make it very clear that you are not looking for the cheapest but for the most reasonable offer. What you seek is good value for money, in other words, quality! And also you would be wise to choose the best candidates, maybe the top 3, and to tell all of them that you have only investigated 2 other competitors- This will help in easing any concern about an agency’s time being wasted and, really, there is no reason to inquire about 10 if you truly want to work with the best anyway.
Make an appointment- Ask for an appointment to get to know the contact person first. This shows a sincere interest in quality service rather than the appearance of fishing for a quick quote in order to ridiculously grind them down on price.
The future- If you have any future projects be sure to mention the possibility of further business with the successful client as this will surely whet any professional’s appetite.
These few points should set a good basic strategy to make the best events companies feel more committed to your project and putting in some extra effort and creativity to make your next event as magnificent as it should be.
About the Author:
Dennis Fink is a marketing and event strategist with 16 years of experience. He has worked extensively in the corporate world in Europe and is now bringing his expertise to Singapore, helping the finest brands to improve their marketing prowess with a myriad of innovative methodologies. He is the Managing Director of PUNKTLANDUNG 3D-Marketing, delivering premium event & expo management and exhibition booth building in Singapore.