• Aleya Harris

How to Close More Catering & Event Clients

It’s exciting to see interaction with your catering and events business increase. Watching the Instagram likes, the retweets and the website click-through rates grow, are sure signs that people are recognizing your brand as a go-to for party perfection. Not to mention, these numbers are a well-earned reward for the hours you’ve spent honing your marketing techniques, and curating your content to suit your followers’ interests.

Still, as a business owner, your ultimate goal is to close sales and win clients, not post popular Instagram pictures. When evaluating the best end-stage techniques for building your client base, it’s crucial to examine the bottom of the marketing funnel. Understanding how buyers interact with your brand as they make their final purchase, and the types of content they expect to see from you at this stage, will put you on the path to sales success.

What is a Marketing Funnel?

As your relationship with potential clients develops, there are a variety of techniques you might consider employing to encourage that person to actually purchase your product. This process of leading an interested party to the point of purchase is known as the “marketing funnel.”

The marketing funnel is split into three sections, or stages, each of which is characterized by unique interaction with relevant leads, or prospects. At the top of the funnel is the largest pool of individuals interacting with your brand via social media, your website homepage, and other highly accessible platforms. Those at the top of the funnel tend to be aware of your brand’s operation, or perhaps slightly interested in what you—but, if they remain at the top, your relationship won’t much further than that.

As one descends into the middle of the funnel, the number of remaining leads has decreased. These individuals’ interaction with your brand has become more intentional, as they’ve scouted out finer details in the determination of whether your brand is the one for them. Finally, those at the bottom have made the switch from prospective buyer to a client; and in an even more refined pool, repeat client.

What Are Buyers Doing at the Bottom of the Funnel?

Our decision to pay for various products and services is often motivated by a belief that making said purchase will provide a solution to a problem. For your clients and prospective clients, that problem is the need for a professional, experienced company that can turn their next event into a success. Once they’ve found a potential fit, motivation to fulfill that need carries a buyer through the funnel, until they’ve reached the bottom.

It’s the bottom of the funnel that hosts and nurtures what will become your brand’s successful client base. The leads, and then buyers, whom you find here are those actively deciding whether your services are the ones for which they want to pay. They’ve done their core research, and are now looking to fill in any remaining knowledge or confidence gaps.

There are a number of ways a bottom-of-the-funnel lead might try to compensate for the remaining unknowns. They’ll likely be paying close attention to content that explains why your service is of value to them in particular. They’ll meticulously compare your portfolio to those of your competitors. They’ll look, overall, for ways to interact with your brand on a personal basis—an interaction that goes beyond social media or basic blog posts, and leads them to industry-specific information.

Buyer activity at the bottom of the funnel might seem reminiscent of the activity occurring in the middle. And, in many ways, it is; guided by the aforementioned problem-solving mentality, people at both stages are engaged in efforts to become personally acquainted with your brand. What is unique about the bottom, however, is its carefully-curated, one-on-one approach to the buyer; not to mention, it’s the moment when a prospect becomes a client.

The bottom of the funnel, for this reason, is also sometimes called the “decision stage.” The buyer has now completed their journey through the marketing funnel and is working proactively to finalize their knowledge. Based upon what they’ve seen from your brand, they’ll then make the ultimate decision as to whether yours is the business for them.

Types of Content to Create at the Bottom of the Funnel

As alluded to above, your bottom-of-the-funnel content is crucial for driving home to buyers that your brand is their best fit. How this emphasis is delivered should be a continuation of the convergence of marketing and sales, which occurs when prospects are in the middle of the funnel. Marketing, it’s important to note here, is often associated with the top of the funnel. However, your attention, to what grabs your customers’ attention, should remain in place throughout the entire process.

Your content here should be rather specialized, with the needs of past, present, and future clients as the dominant factor. The keyword here is personal; buyers should feel as though you’re speaking directly to them and their needs. For some, this final push might come in the form of a perk such as a discount or an offer. They want to see that your service fits their budget, and a unique sale could certainly communicate this. Keep in mind that if you are including promotions, make sure they’re relevant.

However, as Ironpaper underlines, many bottom-of-the-funnel prospects need “more information, education, consulting, and trust before they become to your client.” This might remain the case even after you’ve established a relationship throughout the funnel’s top and middle; events can be lavish, costly, and time-consuming affairs and many hosts want complete confidence in their partners. Ironpaper suggests turning to inbound and content marketing techniques for content inspiration. This might include:

  • Videos of customer reviews or testimonials, detailing how your catering, decoration, or other service made their event unforgettable.

  • One-on-one, personalized demonstrations of certain business activity, such as table setup or supply organization, either in-person or via video chat. This category could also include webinars and in-depth classes, catered to individuals with advanced industry knowledge.

  • An explicit description or example of your brand’s philosophy, demonstrating to the buyer the high level of service they can expect to receive as your customer.

  • Finally, once you’ve reached the pre-sale proposal stage, give clients a chance to mention how they first became aware of your brand. You’ll want to see whether patterns tied to the top of your funnel are appearing.

How to Make the Bottom of the Funnel Work for You

One of the best ways to use the bottom of your marketing funnel to your advantage is to turn it into a tool for retaining customers. The best way to do so is to create a direct path between the bottom of your funnel and the top. Upon successfully completing a transaction, provide the buyer with renewed top-of-the-funnel content. Add them to an email list via which you share seasonally-relevant event décor and table settings, advertise your Instagram, and publish highly visible blog posts about brand news. You can easily integrate your customer’s contact information into various other outreach and marketing sources, so as to keep them in the loop about the dynamic development of your brand.

BuzzSumo also suggests encouraging satisfied customers to promote your brand themselves, which can further help to increase your top-of-the-funnel leads. As soon as you’ve successfully completed a sale, follow up with easily sharable material, such as:

  • Discount codes for friend referrals.

  • Exclusive content customers can share with their networks.

You should also give customers the opportunity to submit feedback about their purchasing experience. This will demonstrate to customers that your number one priority is their satisfaction—a trait that will often show up in later reviews.

How to Know If Your Content Is Working

The ration between interaction with your bottom-of-the-funnel content—such as click-through rates and post views—and the number of sales you’re pulling in, is a clear method for determining your content’s success. Of course, a 1:1 interaction-to-sale ratio is ideal; however, even the wealthiest companies can’t boast such luck! Keep in mind that how your successful ratio looks are unique to your brand’s reach, age, customer pool, and specialization.

If, however, you see that people are interacting with your lower-level content, but that those interactions are failing to translate into sales, take some time to reconfigure. One of the best ways to do so is by asking prospects for content feedback. Example questions might include:

  • What needs to be in place for you to feel confident working with a brand?

  • What do you expect from a professional catering and events business?

  • Do you feel this content speaks personally to you, and to the problem you are trying to solve?

  • Is this content relevant?

Also consider whether you’re attracting the right or most relevant, audience at the top of the funnel and whether you’re building a strong enough relationship in the middle. Weaknesses in the earlier stages will only compound by the latter.

As mentioned above, growth at the top can also be indicative of successful bottom-level content. If you have a successful follow-through system in place, you’ll be more likely to attract new clients, and keep the old ones returning.

Other ways to gauge success are a low number of sales objections from clients (also, make sure to document all sales objections if and when they do occur!), and a decreased proposal to payment timeline.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions, including how to best curate your top and middle content for a successful funnel bottom. Congratulations on growing your business, and happy marketing!

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Download the free Top 10 Marketing Essentials for a Successful Catering & Events Business PDF and get clear on what exactly you need to put in place to future-proof your business.