I would like to take you through the process of marketing to vendors that you come in contact with. Let’s start with marketing to vendors on site, at a wedding, or party.Before we begin, let me say that marketing is a building process. It takes time and effort on your part. Don’t expect a vendor to drop an entertainer to begin to refer you business. It may be months of effort before you see any results.
First, have you contacted the venue ahead of time to find out about loading procedures? Who did you talk to? Remember their name and say “Hi” when you see them. This way they can put a face on the person who was considerate enough to call, plus this will remind them of that call.
No one is unimportant when it comes to marketing. So when you pull up to the door, give the valet a card and a few bucks to park your van, (there might be a senior prom coming up). It is also nice to see your van right in front when you load out. If you are using the loading dock, give a card to security, (there could be an employees party that needs entertainment).
As you are loading in give a card to the banquet manager and ask if they have any special instructions. If you’re there early (hint), you might see the cake being decorated, that’s right, give them a card and compliment them on their cake. If a décor specialist or florist is there make sure to give them a card also. By the way, don’t forget to ask for their cards, for three reasons:
It says, “I’m interested in helping you too”.
You will have a way to contact these vendors later in the week, to send out information.
You develop a card file and become a resource for brides, party planners and other clients who may need these services, continuing to add to your value.
Once the event has gotten underway leave a few cards on the bar with the bartender. They know good talent when they hear it and will spread the word, plus someone may mention the entertainment while ordering a beverage and there will be a card for them to take. Don’t forget servers too. They may know someone getting married soon.
If this is a wedding make sure to give a card to the photographer, videographer, bridal consultant and minister, again remember to get a card in return.
You should be able to give out seven to ten cards to vendors at every performance. Keep in mind that all these vendors will have their unique reason for recommending you. Ranging from, you were the only entertainer to ever give them a card, you followed all instructions without question, to you had this group dancing from beginning to end. There will be times when you don’t know where or why you got this referral, but rest assured it happened because you were marketing to vendors.
Next let’s market to vendors by appointment. The vendors that you make appointments to see are the ones that can refer you on a steady basis. These include bridal consultants, event planners, destination planners, catering or banquet managers, human resource managers and entertainment agents.
Lunches or breakfasts (if you’re an early bird), are the best way to develop a relationship. Many of these vendors are getting calls everyday asking to refer business. You want to be different. You want to establish a relationship with a few chosen vendors. Here is a strategy for building that relationship.
Start with taking this vendor out of their work environment. Take them to lunch at a nice restaurant. Try to schedule it before or after the normal lunch time crowd, so you are not waiting in line and wasting valuable time. Here’s a trick to use. Go to the restaurant earlier to make the reservation, give them your credit card, sign the slip and ask for them to just add a 15% – 20% tip to the bill. When your finished with the meal just get up and leave, it can be quite impressive.
Try to spend about half the time in social conversation and half the time talking about their business. A great way to start the business part of your lunch is with a statement like this, “What do I have to know about your business to recommend you to a prospective client?” You want to know what their needs are, how could you help them do a better job, where do others fall short, and what they expect from you. Don’t talk about yourself or your company unless they ask and then try to go back to their company. Just keep agreeing, nodding and don’t interrupt. They will walk away thinking you are a great conversationalist.
A nice lunch will probable cost you $30 – $40. Money well spent, if you receive even only two referrals throughout the year from this vendor. Once again this is a building process, don’t expect to receive a referral in just a week or two, though this has been known to happen.
Two pluses of referrals are:
Many times very little selling is needed to book the job. If the client respects the vendor who gave them your name, you can “piggyback” on their reputation. This can make the meeting just a formality. But don’t assume it will be that easy. Always be prepared to do your complete sales presentation.
Your value increases as much as 20% – 50%, depending on whom the referral is coming from. If this referral is coming from one of the most expensive and notable photographers in your area, the client is going to expecting your company to be the very best.
Finally, you must do your part too. Giving out a referral is one of the best ways to receive them back. Don’t wait for someone to refer you first.
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