According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the event planning industry is going to grow 11% over the next decade, with 12,700 more jobs added between 2016 and 2026. There’s a definite demand for qualified event planning professionals: if you’re looking to get the attention of potential clients, you need to know how to build a winning event proposal.
Here’s 10 tips to build an event planning proposal that will put you head and shoulders above the competition and blow your customers away.
10. Have a Conversation With Your Client
When your clients come to you, chances are that they have no idea what they want. That’s where you, the event planning professional, come in. Having a one on one conversation with your client lets you find out what it is that they’re looking to accomplish with the event.
During the initial meeting, make sure you ask questions and take notes. Here’s what you should have down in your notebook by the end of the meeting:
- The time and date
- The desired location
- Color scheme and other visual elements
- Any initial catering options
As you take down these notes, keep an eye out for things like tone or body language. Does your client get excited when talking about certain parts of their event? Make sure to emphasize those when it comes time to put pen to paper. Knowing what to emphasize and what to move to the bottom can be one of the keys to getting a client to sign off on a proposal.
9. Keep Focus On The Client
Once you get started on writing the proposal, you’re going to want to try to play yourself up to showcase how you’re the best event planning professional for what this client needs. Don’t do that.
Rather, talk about what your client’s needs are (which you should have notes on thanks to your meeting) and how you’re uniquely suited to putting the event together because of how well you understand their needs.
Your client is going to be looking at multiple proposals from multiple people and agencies: they’re going to pick the one that can best deliver the vision of what they have in their head. If you keep a focus on them and what they want, chances are it’s going to be you.
8. Summarize The Client’s Needs
Tying in with number 9 above, including a summary of the client’s needs in your event planning proposal is one of the best ways to reassure the client that you understand their desires.
There are two big places you can summarize your client’s needs: in the event description and in the portfolio section. Use the event description as a place to organize the client’s needs and wants into a coherent, well-thought-out structure. After all, the client essentially told you what they wanted in the one-on-one meeting you had – here’s where you put that information to good use.
When it comes to the portfolio section of your event planning proposal, see if you have any photos of similar events to what the client is putting on – even better if some of those are in venues that the client wants to use for their own event. Using photos like this is a good way to show the client that you understand their needs because you’ve met them before with similar proposals and similar events.
7. Showcase Your Experience
Like with the pictures in your portfolio section above, being able to summarize your experience as an event planning professional is important when it comes to securing potential clients. This doesn’t mean that you need to deep-dive into why you’re the best event planner in the business: a brief summary of who you are and how long you’ve been in the business often suffices.
It’s even better to summarize your experience in a way that shows, but doesn’t tell. So using things like pictures to showcase how well you’ve planned similar events is a great way to convince clients of your experience without you having to say a word.
Other things to add would be a client testimonials page: let the words of previous clients convince a current client to sign with you.
6. Provide Event Overviews and Outlines
More than just the event description, it’s the event overviews and outline that you submit that really show your client that you’re an event planner worth hiring.
For the event overview, you need to provide an organized overview of the event that shows how well you understand the event requirements that you and the client have discussed. Here is a good place to provide a couple suggestions on things like venue or catering – they’re a good way to get the client’s attention without giving away all of your event planning secrets.
When it comes to the event outline, it’s a great time to go into more depth. Outline your vision of the event to the client, making sure to take into account everything that you discussed in your earlier one-to-one meeting. Include pictures (where appropriate, such as when describing the venue) and outline how things are organized.
Your event outline should tell your client when their event is going to take place, how long the entire event planning process is going to take, and any event milestones that they need to be aware of.
5. Provide a Services List
After you provide your clients with an event overview and outline, one of the best ways to further cement yourself as a good event planner in your client’s eyes is to provide them with a services list. A services list is all of the services that you offer or provide for your clients.
What’s the difference between offered and provided services?
Provided services are services that are provided for sure (for example, food that’s provided as part of a catering package).
Offered services are services that are on offer, but only if the client wishes for them. An example of an offered service in this case might be extra staff (aside from the venue staff).
By providing your clients with a services list, you run less of a risk that they’ll go to other professionals for services that you can provide to them anyway.
4. Present a Budget with Options
When it comes to the part of the event planning proposal where you outline a budget for your client, there are a couple things you should do to ensure that there are no unpleasant surprises for either of you.
First, when it comes to your event overview and outline, call out each part of the event that’s likely to incur a cost for your client.
Once you know that your client is aware of what is and isn’t going to cost them money, you can start drawing up an event budget. An event budget outlines cost estimates of the main items (catering, venue costs, speaker fees), ensures that you have money for miscellaneous expenses and contingencies and then provides the actual cost of each component so that your client is aware of how within their budget they are.
After providing your client your client with the main budget, it’s entirely within your scope to provide them with options if what you originally propose either isn’t what they wanted or is a little out of their budget. It’s best to be prepared for this sort of thing: if you can prevent the budget options along with the main budget, you end up not wasting time on budget back-and-forth.
3. Preview and Review
Before you send the event proposal off to the client, preview it with members of your team. Read the document aloud or have someone look it over to make sure that everything reads properly and that you’re not missing any important sections, like the event overview or the budget.
As you’re reading through the event proposal, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my client’s goals for this event?
- How will I achieve those goals?
- What is the timeframe for the event?
- Is my projected budget reasonable?
- Do I have the resources and the expertise to plan and execute this event?
If the answer to any one of these questions is “no,” it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Once you’re satisfied that everything reads properly and nothing is missing, go over it with a fine-toothed comb one more time. Make sure that you proofread it and that it’s free of grammar and spelling errors. If no grammar and spelling errors are present, you’re free to send your event proposal off to the client.
2. Put on the Finishing Touches
Once you’re totally sure that your event planning proposal is ready to go, it’s time to put on the finishing touches and send it off to your client. This means adding a nice, professional cover page, preferably with your company logo and contact information.
Once you have all of the elements you need, print off your event proposal on nice, high-quality paper, preferably in a wire binder or something similar to further enhance that this is a professional event proposal. Don’t let what is an awesome event proposal be let down by poor presentation.
If you truly want to knock your client’s socks off, consider going a step further: build a custom URL for your client’s event planning proposal and directing them to that. By building a custom landing page for the event, you can include things like introductory or explanatory videos to really walk your client through the process in a way that you’re not able to do with a physical document.
1. Keep Your Client in the Loop
Once you’ve sent your event planning proposal off to your client and they’ve okayed it, keep them in the loop. Remember the event milestones you put in the event outline? Those aren’t just for show: they’re a key part of your event proposal. Keeping your client in the loop every step of the way as part of the event planning process is how you get clients who come back to you again and again.