Lead Generation for Event Vendors: The Basics

lead generation, events, dmc, coordinators, plannersGetting new business is one of the biggest hurdles any third-party event vendor faces. You may have the best services available with the best customer service, but if you can’t attract clients, your business may never see the light of day (or at least as much of it as you would like). But it always seems to come down to the chicken or the egg scenario: you can’t get clients unless you have a proven track record, but you can’t have a proven track record unless you have clients. If that’s the case, then how can you begin building your business as a vendor for events?

The answer to this question leads us to one of the oldest marketing concepts in the book: lead generation. At its core, lead generation is the art of bringing in new clients using all the cards in your hand. But it’s not just about using the cards, it’s about playing them at the right time.

If you have a new business or a struggling one (or perhaps even a thriving one that you want to ensure continues to do as much), then learning this art is a critical step to giving your business life. And not just life, but one that regenerates on its own without much help from you.

How Does Lead Generation Work?

Lead generation, like many other concepts in business, boils down to a process of building your book of business. It begins by understanding your sales funnel, leading potential clients to your funnel, filtering out bad leads along the way, focusing in on the qualified leads, and then closing the sale.

Generating those leads initially can be done in several different ways: offline or online. For event service vendors, generating leads offline can be just as, if not more, productive than generating them online. But it comes down to who your core potential customer is and what need you are fulfilling for them.

Offline lead generation can happen in many ways. Some of the most effective methods include advertising at venues and building relationships with other service providers. Advertising at venues puts your company front and center with event planners and organizers who are already a captive audience when they are scoping out the potential venue. Creating a good relationship with the venue management team is also a good way to spend time because they can be a great referrer for your business. This is the same concept behind building relationships with other event service vendors. It essentially becomes a word-of-mouth referral system without having to have clients spread the word. If you can build relationships with companies doing work adjacent to yours, it can be a boon for business.

Online lead generation can be a little easier because you can directly target your potential clients with keyword-based ad campaigns, specific website landing pages, and segmented email campaigns. It’s important to note, however, that even though it can be easy to do broad campaigns online, it can be tougher to find qualified leads. The wider the net you cast, the more likely you are to get by-catch (the stuff that ends up in the net that you weren’t really looking for in the first place). So, if there are multiple methods for lead generation, where should you start?

Getting Started with Lead Generation

Before you even begin looking for people to build relationships with or launch your first online ad campaign, it’s important to start from the beginning, the real beginning. All of your efforts will be ineffective if you do not first understand who your core client is, what problem you are solving for them, and what your market position is. Lay a solid foundation for your lead generation campaigns by first committing to paper (or digital document) the answers to these items. It will go a long way for helping you set up the best campaigns to reach your potential customer.

Once you understand those key components of your clients, then you can start lead generation tactics. You should start by identifying a strategy for your lead generation efforts. Where will you spend your money? How much will you spend? How long will you let each campaign run? How will you measure its effectiveness?

Knowing how to measure and what to measure before you begin is also crucial to successful lead generation. If you can answer these questions and develop a strategy for lead generation, then you are ready to move into practical tips and tactics for attacking it head on. We’ll cover that in an upcoming article. Until then, be sure to write down your answers to the questions above and get your strategy committed to memory. Hold yourself accountable to it.