How to Get Your Dream Catering & Events Clients
Marketing to “just anyone” might, at first, sound like an effective way to go about maximizing your client base. In actuality, “just anyone” is unlikely to invest in becoming an enthusiastic member of your catering and events business’ network. Fail to target the correct audience, and you may find you’re losing time and money.
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to equip yourself with the profile of your ideal customer and to do so prior to embarking upon any marketing endeavors. Such a profile, also known as an ideal customer avatar, gives you the tools to outline the traits of a hypothetical individual who is likely to use your events service. Once you’ve identified this person, along with their goals, background, and challenges, you’ll be ready to launch your content where it matters!
Why You Need to Have a Clear Picture of Your Customer
If you’re taking the time to perfect your marketing materials, you want to ensure those materials land on the Instagram feeds and the inboxes of the consumers who are most likely to engage with them. While you do want diversity, especially at the top of the marketing funnel, your primary goal is to attract those people who have the best chances of progressing to the middle and then the bottom, stages. You are aiming to find, in other words, the best candidates for lead conversion. Your customer avatar is a direct route to finding such people.
One notable benefit of a customer avatar is that it protects you from miscalculating marketing success with early-stage analytics. Say, for example, that you frequently update your brand’s Instagram with pictures of beautifully-laid table spreads and room décor following each event. As is often the case with aesthetically-pleasing content, your posts might be on the receiving end of high engagement—people are liking, commenting, and sharing examples of your hard work.
Such engagement is encouraging, but it does not automatically translate into sales. If you actually want to see lead conversions, you need to intentionally bring certain people into the top of your marketing funnel. Creating a customer avatar allows you to pinpoint exactly who these people are, as well as the online spaces in which you are most likely to find them.
There are a few key details to keep in mind when determining the characteristics of your customer avatar:
Their “hobbies, values, attitudes and interests”
Their goals, and hurdles they may face in achieving them
Their social and traditional media consumption
Factors that might deter them from supporting your business.
How Knowing Your Customer Helps You Stand out from the Competition
A personalized experience is one of the most powerful things you can offer clients as an entrepreneur, especially when it comes to event organization. Your client has likely put countless hours into making sure their wedding, party, or gala is just right—and it’s your task to push every detail even closer to perfection. However, perfection can be subjective, and you won’t know which way to push unless you know with whom you’re working.
The customer avatar explores many of the traits that shape an individual’s life and personality. It is, therefore, a fantastic way of getting to know your clients, before you’re even met them. This is essential in such massive industries as catering, events, and weddings.
Taking the time to develop an in-depth understanding of your customers will also push you ahead of the competition. And, as mentioned above, this industry is extensive, and it is becoming only more so—therefore, it’s vital you find a way to stand out.
With so many online businesses, there exist just as many—if not more—online business reviews. As you build a client base, your catering and events business will likely start receiving feedback, sent both directly to you, as well as published on third-party sites.
One of the most meaningful customer service experiences, and one which often comes through in reviews, is when a person feels like a business is curating their work specifically to them. The more personal of an experience your customers feel they are receiving, the more positive feedback you’re likely to receive. And positive feedback is a recipe for new clients.
Of course, knowing how to personalize your efforts to fit your customers’ needs requires building an understanding of your customers, which is part of building your customer avatar. Start by speaking with any former customers you might have.
Questions to ask include what drew them to your brand, whether they took to social media for event inspiration, and whether they feel your business is different from similar ones they’ve worked with in the past. Such questions can be delivered via an email- or phone-based survey, or a video chat.
Similarly, if you have a Customer Service team, speak with staff members about their client interactions. Furthermore, examine your brand’s website and social media analytics, to see whether the users engaging the most with your content have shared interests. If, however, you’ve yet to establish a customer base of your own, take a look at the social and web pages of similar businesses, as well as industry-relevant chat forums. See what discussion topics are popular and whether users’ profiles highlight any key characteristics.
Top 10 Wedding and Catering Client Pain Points
One of the key steps in piecing together your customer avatar is identifying that hypothetical person’s challenges, as well as pain points.
When it comes to working with catering and events businesses, some of the most frequently-reported client pain points include:
Poorly kept, and even dysfunctional, equipment- If your equipment looks bad and functions poorly, the overall event may be viewed more negatively. Not to mention, poor equipment can cause delays when it comes to foodservice.
Straying from the scheduled delivery and pickup times- Going off schedule can be frustrating for guests, and stressful for hosts.
Missed or incorrect details and décor- Perhaps the wrong number and color of table clothes have been delivered, or the buffet table is the incorrect size. Such details, while apparently small, can really detract from the overall flow of an event.
Lack of understanding, or miscommunication, between client and business- With every decision made, make sure to check, and double-check, that you and your client are on the same page.
Wasting time on more minute tasks- You only have so much time to plan, and sometimes certain details must take precedent over others. Be sure to check in with your client as to how they feel the planning process is flowing.
However, pain points can stem from concerns about the event itself, such as:
Knowing how many people to invite, and whether to encourage plus-ones.
Making the event adults-only, or family-friendly, including kids.
How to gauge the correct amount of food catered. Too much food is a recipe for wasted money, and too little will undoubtedly leave guests, and your client, frustrated.
Deciding upon the best seating arrangements for guests.
Whether to have an open bar, limited drinks, or refrain from alcohol service entirely.
Of course, other hurdles are certain to pop up along the way. Still, having in mind these potential problems you might have to address for your client before you and your client have ever met will leave you prepared—and keep you professional.
How to Create Messages That Make Clients Want to Work with You
Take a moment to recall some of the most memorable brand slogans and catchphrases. Perhaps Taco Bell’s “Think outside the bun,” or Nike’s “Just do it” comes to mind. When it comes to such examples, what makes them stand out from the messages delivered by similar businesses? How are they used as a call to action, inspiring potential customers to give them—and not their competition—a try? And, in so few words, what do they say about the business itself?
Of course, your messages will differ from those of America’s most popular chain restaurants and sportswear businesses. Much like Subway’s invitation to “Eat fresh,” however, your own message should communicate to potential clients what makes you different, and ultimately inspire them to work with you.
When crafting your message, it’s helpful to consider the core focus of your catering and events business. Whether you specialize in Southern California beach weddings or princess-themed birthday parties, make sure that niche comes through. Think as well about the values that you, as a business owner, find important. What do you want customers to know about your business, from the start?
Make Your Customer the Hero of the Story
It is ultimately the client who is holding the event and the client whose name the event bears. Therefore, with every decision you make as an entrepreneur, your client’s needs should be the central factor. While your role in the process is undoubtedly key, you want your visibility to remain largely backstage.
Your goal, overall, should be customer-centricity. Remaining customer-centric means keeping the customer’s goals at the core of your operation. It requires maintaining open and clear communication with your client at every step of the planning, hosting, and follow up processes. No matter the understanding you feel you hold of your client’s needs and wishes, it’s important to always get their input before a decision is finalized.
In the eyes of your client’s guests, the event’s success—or failure—will often be a reflection of the client. It’s your client they know personally, not you, and your client to whom they are looking for event success. By maintaining customer centricity, your client will become the visible driver of a fantastic event!