How to nab the clients YOU want to work with

Through my party planning company The Party Goddess! I’ve worked with Britney Spears, Sofia Vergara, Gwyneth Paltrow, Pierce Brosnan, and a list that grows by the day. Celebrity clients are a great way to leave your competition in the dust no matter HOW saturated your market is — it’s the easiest way ever to get paid a lot more for what you do. But it’s not just about landing the celeb — it’s about leveraging them.

You should care about celebrities, even if you don’t care about celebrities. Why? (Hint: it’s a 5 letter word and starts with “M”). M-O-N-E-Y. And not just theirs, everyone else’s who will now pay you a premium because of your association.

Two things sell: Sex and celebrities. Period. Therefore, you can sell your soul, or just get some celebrities clients. Here’s how I got mine:

1. I determined my “why.” I can’t emphasize enough how crucial this first point is. Do you want celebrities so you can lead an exciting life, hobnobbing with the rich and famous? Or do you want celebrity clients to get attention for your brand?

2. I quantified the end goal. If you want celebrities to help your brand stand out, that’s great, but how much cash, time and product (even at your cost, products still take money to produce) are you willing to budget and what kind of ROI are you expecting.

3. I got clear on how I would quantify success. I have a certain “quota” of A-listers that I want to work with each year because historically each celeb translates into a certain number of national magazine mentions. Those mentions in publications that my target audience reads translates into a certain number of hits on my blog, which translates to a certain number of inquiries, which translates to a certain percentage of closed deals. Get my drift?

4. I identified my targets. Who did I want to plan a rockstar-fabulous event for and why? If your ideal customers are Kardashian-following, clothes-loving, latest-restaurant type foodie hounds, it won’t do you a ton of good to land yourself a country Western singer that Tinseltown isn’t super enamored with. It will be a waste of your resources and can even turn your audience off.

5. I got their attention – with gift certificates. Beautiful, personalized, and for a significant dollar amount. Celebrities are used to getting everything for free. Just like in every other aspect of your business, even your “gift” must rise above the rest.

How & why to leave your competition in the dust

Here is the premise from which I operate:

Celebrities = Press

Press = Notice

Notice cuts through the noise

Noise keeps you chasing clients & your prices low

Notice = Expert

Expert = More $

The marketplace these days is so cluttered, crowded and noisy that it’s taking a lot more than just a great product to get people to take a second look at your business. We’ve all heard a lot lately about “becoming an expert.” The bottom line is, if your target audience identifies you as the leader of your pack, the one who really is the go to resource in your industry, you can command higher prices. That’s just how perception works, right or wrong. Therefore, demonstrate you’ve got the street creds and your customers will vote with their feet, right into your back pocket.

How to identify your own top 5-10 celebrities:

Don’t live in the 90210? No problem. Your optimal “celebrity” doesn’t have to be an actual celebrity. Think of an influential person in your area — the mayor, a well-known family or a media person. Well known people in a local area are seen as “celebrities” so brainstorm your list. Create a plan. And then just freaking go after them with a specific roadmap.

Once you have your celebrities, it’s all about leveraging them! It’s not enough to just “get” the celebrity client of your town. That’s akin to a tree falling in the forest: If no one saw it, did it really actually fall? Notable events are the same. Your target audience must be made aware, and made aware, and made aware that this is the kind of clientele you have, that that sets you above the rest, makes you good at what you do and therefore, super desirable as their number one vendor of choice (which just happens to mean you can justifiably charge more.)

In order to leverage your hard won celebrity cadre, secure these three things (or at least the first two.)

Key #1: They are your client – They must sign off saying that Marley Majcher, The Party Goddess! gets to include Pierce Brosnan (yes, he really is that good looking AND nice) on her client list.

Key #2: Photo – A picture speaks a thousand words. Enough said. Get the shot.

Key #3: Testimonial! – IF you can, get a testimonial. It doesn’t have to be long or formal, heck, it can even be a Tweet, but TRY and get something. 80 characters and a smiley face from George Clooney is as good as cash.

Now go and tell the world! Use your three keys above to tout your success. In the beginning it will feel awkward, but you must do it, or all of your hard work will be for naught. Blasting it through social media, ezines, press releases, and of course, your website press page, blog and client roster are just a few examples of getting the biggest bang for the buck.

A few bonus tips. Remember The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. Protect your “celebrity” clients like you would protect your children. Assume nothing. If you gift them with your services, be clear and upfront about what’s involved so that everyone is straight going in. The LAST thing you want to do is get a celebrity and then sell them out. The world of famous people, whether it’s Hollywood, or the local group of reporters in a small town is usually a tight group and people talk. Your reputation for keeping your mouth shut is VITAL. I can’t stress this enough. Exchanging your services for their photo, name as your client and testimonial (if you can get it), should be clearly spelled out. You wouldn’t appreciate someone abusing your trust, so don’t abuse theirs, even if they deserve it. And a lot of them do. Take your informal count of their martini consumption to the grave.

People do business with people who they know, like and trust. TRUST. Develop the relationship and that celebrity, and many others will be yours for the taking. You can still leverage the relationship by mentioning details of your upcoming event (or past event) without naming names or giving specific dollar amounts. Don’t risk your newly acquired elevated status with an overconfident remark to the press about someone being cheap or anything less than fabulous.

Now go draft up those gift certificates and shout your results from the rooftop.

Right now, Marley Majcher, author, TV contributor and big boss at The Party Goddess! is probably knee-deep in glitter sipping martinis with Pierce Brosnan (literally)… But you take her free quiz to find out just how productive you are right now at http://theprofitgoddess.com/TheSpecialEvent

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Florist Toolkit: Essentials for Event Set-up

Special event florists know they need to arrive at an event ready to hit the ground running, prepared to transform the space with amazing floral designs in a relatively short amount of time. Over the last few years of working with floral designers (from the wholesale side), I’ve heard lots of great advice on setting up for events including: transportation tips, how to make sure your designs are stable, and how to make last-minute touch-ups on arrangements without needing extra flowers.

Jackie's Flowers photo by Bret Cole Photography

Jackie Perez, owner of Jackie’s Flowers, puts the finishing touches on a styled shoot on location in Bodega Bay. Featuring: California Vintage Rentals, photo: Bret Cole Photography

To learn more tips for successful event installs, I asked several California-based floral designers about their must-haves for their on-location toolkits. I received a variety of responses, including what to bring along to make clean-up faster, and handy uses for florists’ favorite adhesive. Here’s what they had to say:

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Six ways to get serious with your small business and stop treating it like a hobby

It often starts like this: “You’re so amazing at [fill in the blank] planning parties, Julia, you really should go into business.” And I cringe every time a newly minted entrepreneur tells me their story. Why? Because, it takes so much more than a great idea or amazing pastry skills to make a profit. And that is the difference between a hobby and a business: Profit. Yes, it takes talent, passion and a lot of other things. But one of the most important is the commitment to a plan.

Following is my quick and dirty system for going from Betty, the neighbor down the street who can help you with your daughter’s birthday party, to Betty, the go to girl if you want to knock it out of the park for your super spawn.

1.  Make a plan and write it down. You MUST address the key components of a business plan before you go from hobbyist to the real deal. What makes you better, stronger or faster than everyone else in the marketplace and why are your future customers desperate to have you solve their problems or mix their martinis? You cannot merely be great at baking cakes. No matter what the neighbors say, they’re not enough to sustain you when it’s time to whip out the credit card.

2.  Show me the money. What is your pricing strategy, your upfront costs and your overhead? Have you really drilled down on ALL of your Cost of Goods Sold, even the ones that seem inconsequential like that 10 cent label on the bottom of your magic lotion? It’s not enough to hope your sales will exceed your forecasts and you’ll get to somehow take a salary.

3. Create a time tracking system. From. Day. 1. Get used to it. You can always make more money, you can never get back lost time. How you spend your time will directly correlate to the success of your venture.

4. Get the ROI for your time, just like your money. You wouldn’t give your stock broker $10,000 without some sort of expected ROI, yet we don’t approach our time with nearly the same ferocity. Then we wonder why we can’t get everything done. Say adios to long lunches with friends of friends of cousins who just want to “pick your brain”, your core activities must all contribute to the bottom line.

5. Assemble a support system. My old business professor calls it a “Kitchen Cabinet” since a Board of Directors sounds a little formal for your spare bedroom scrapbooking company. But rest assured, entrepreneurship can be lonely. Save yourself a lot of sleepless nights and assemble a group of the smartest people you can think of, especially in key areas where you’re weak.

6. Tweak your model. Know going in that things aren’t going to go exactly as planned, but that doesn’t mean the planning was faulty or fruitless. Expect to react to the market and be nimble, lean and decisive.

Right now, Marley Majcher, author, TV contributor and big boss at The Party Goddess! is probably knee-deep in glitter sipping martinis with Pierce Brosnan (literally)… But you take her free quiz to find out just how productive you are right now at http://theprofitgoddess.com/TheSpecialEvent

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It’s Not Sex; It’s Business: How to Prevent Emotion from Ruining Your Profits

Over the years working as a business and marketing consultant, I have recognized that most business owners approach running their businesses like they are in a romantic relationship with it.

Now, before you start rolling your eyes, hear me out! It’s true. There are a number of business books out there that all offer their own takes on how to run a business, but most of them seem to operate in a bubble of perfect conditions and suggestions.

But we’re human, and we don’t operate like that. True, there are sound business practices. Anyone who has worked at a major corporation (whether it be McDonalds, Walmart, or Google), knows that there are usually set procedures put in place to make sure employees (and management) know what to do.

Those systems didn’t go up overnight. All businesses start somewhere; maybe a garage or a single shop on Main Street. However they came to be the monsters they are I’ll guarantee one thing: they started small and had to overcome the same adversity that small business owners all over the world have to face.

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3 NFC Trends on the Event Industry Horizon

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a form of wireless communication that allows the flow of information between two devices. Wearable NFC devices are beginning to proliferate and have significant impact on the hospitality industry as attendees demand a streamlined response to their registration, payment and engagement needs.

In 2013, over 300 million NFC-enabled phones were shipped – note the date there. That means that right now, you may be the unwitting owner of a mobile device that is equipped to facilitate NFC applications. It’s like a little sleeping giant is cradled in your hand. Once the iPhone 6 goes on sale in January of 2015, that number will explode.

This shows that companies are positioning themselves for a massive industry shift – and the meetings and event planning industry need to be ready for adoption of these technologies. Here are three trends to watch out for:

Transportation

Uber led the proverbial pack in mobile payment solutions for transportation by allowing users to connect their credit cards to the Uber app. Queue hysteria from the taxi industry followed by a too-late, inelegant scramble to implement credit card systems within individual cars. A good attempt, but let’s call a spade a spade: swiping a card is not nearly as attractive as having an automated receipt in an inbox 5 seconds upon arrival at a destination.

Now let’s pivot to public transit. The efficient and impatient side of me is always shocked when I arrive in a city and there are no mobile payment options for public transit. Take Washington, D.C., which forces you to pre-load $10 onto a plastic fare card or pay an extra dollar for a smaller amount on a paper (read: wasteful) fare card. NFC technology will allow your event attendee to swipe their phone over a reader.

So how do these two transportation options apply to the events industry? Consider the opportunity for partnership or cross promotion with Uber or a city with discounted pricing for transportation integrated into your event’s app. You bring economic dollars into the local economy by hosting an event.

Once NFC technology is capable of integrating with multiple parties, this could be a very real reality that enhances your attendee’s experience while generating additional monetary stimulus for both your event and your transportation partners.

Attendee Tracking

One major element that will gauge the speed NFC’s adoption will be the planner’s ability to understand the customer journey that will occur with the introduction of NFC technology. The goal of introducing these technologies is to enhance the customer experience. One such experience is the ever-awkward name badge.

Name badges exist for two reasons: reading one another’s names, and scanning a bar code for attendee tracking purposes. Name recognition is fine, but the bar code is not.

The problem with scanning someone’s badge is that it’s one of the most obtrusive, awkward things you can do to a stranger. “Oh, hello! Thanks for arriving at our breakout. If you don’t mind, let me just bend over and awkwardly point a laser beam at your sternum/belly button! Great, all set, enjoy the program!”

I mean, come on.

The future of name badges will be a combination of a wearable NFC device and a data collecting fortress. Take Disney’s MagicBands for example. These wearables allow park visitors to personalize their experience at Disney properties by using these NFC-enabled wristbands. Disney monitor’s this data to identify where crowd flow is heading and to predict guest’s actions based on history.

Imagine what you could do with that type of data. How about opening up another escalator when you see 90% of your event attendees are heading to one location and a back up is imminent?

Smarter Breakout Scheduling

Data can help you tell a story – your story, and NFC technology is about to take you into the next chapter. Conferences are always gauging how many seats are left in a room. First, we offset this problem by physically counting seats. Then, we got fancy and purchased clickers. Today, event staff are placed in front of doors with scanners for accurate calculations.

The room capacity recognition of tomorrow will be a nearly inconspicuous device that tracks entrance through a door based on the event app’s GPS beacon, notifying the staff member when the room can no longer accommodate another individual. It’s not intrusive. It will provide real-time data on attendee locations, and it will help planners immediately identify when a session needs to have an encore based on capacity gained over time.

As adoption to this ramps up, how do you think the event industry will react?

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