“EG Tips” – The Dynamics of Unique Value Proposition in Your Events

“EG Tips” – The Dynamics of Unique Value Proposition in Your Events

Are you tired of everything coming down to money when talking with prospective clients? Are you trying to figure out how to get them to see your value? Hint: it can’t be done in a sales pitch.

As a business, you need a unique value proposition for your event planning services and the events you plan. You must make sure that people understand what makes you different and why they should select your service or attend your event over others. Many times we make the mistake of differentiating on price. “We’re the lowest!” But that only gets you into a bidding war with the competition. So what do you do when your client or attendee is cost-savings focused and is missing the value? How can you help them to see it?

Look Over Here. Did You See That? It’s Value.

Part of the value discussion lies in understanding what your client sees value in. For instance, let’s assume you’re talking with an event client prospect. You think they want to sign with you but they’re hesitant so you throw in an hour of free service. Now instead of a 3-hour event, they can extend it to 4, without paying you anything additional. That’s a great deal if they had wanted a 4-hour event all along but if they didn’t, you’re not saving them money. You’re costing them more for an hour longer with the entertainment, the venue, the AV people, and whomever else.
So before doing anything else, find out what they consider valuable and begin the conversation there.

  1. Show Cause and Effect. Skimping Here, Impacts This.

    If your client is feeling overwhelmed, they may be looking to control something and a budget is a good place to start. They may start whittling away this and that in the hopes of regaining control again. Know that this is just a symptom of a larger anxiety.

    If you come in at this point, with a hardcore sales approach, you’ll lose them. You need to focus your energy on creating a connection. They need to be courted and you do that by showing them you have what they need. But first, you need to figure out what that is.

    Get them off of the nickels and dimes and onto the larger picture. Ask about their vision for the event, their goals, and what they want. Let them bask in the “what will be” for a moment. Listen to what they’re saying. Make note of what they want and how they communicate it to you. What words do they use?
    They should be telling you what they value. If you’re telling them what they value, you’ll be swimming upstream. Instead, find out what they find important and mold your event approach to that. It won’t feel like a sale. It will be a conversation. Next, mimic the language they used when talking about the event. Reiterate their vision to them so they know you’re on the same page.

    Then, talk about how their desired cost-savings only add up to a few dollars. Show what it will impact. Then switch the conversation to what the event could be and what that would mean for all involved. Paint a story that the customer wants to be a part of. You can do this by basing it on what they told you. Then talk about attendee experience. Ask them which scenario provides more value for everyone involved? The cost-savings one or their ideal? The economic outlay is not that much more for the ideal version, but it yields a much larger potential for greater return on investment.

  2. Talk About Return on Investment and Results Not Individual Costs

    For most customers, buying a car is a long-term commitment; at least from the payment side since most people finance them. Have you noticed how salespeople talk about cars? They ask about monthly payment. After all, that’s what most people care about in their budget. It doesn’t benefit them to talk about how much buyers will pay over the life of the loan. Most people would experience buying paralysis hearing that number.
    With events, it’s the opposite. The larger shock is in the line item. Events are something people will pay off at one time, unlike a car. Don’t allow the conversation to turn into an analysis of line-item charges. They’ll experience the same buying paralysis that they would if they saw what they’d actually be paying for a car in the long run.

    Instead, talk about return on investment. It will cost you X, but you’ll bring in Y. (Hopefully, Y will make X look teeny, tiny.) Then show them the results you’ve achieved through other events for clients. Don’t just look at ROI as money. Broaden that definition to show how your efforts have brought in more attendees, grown name recognition, and continued to increase attendance years later.

    Ask the tough questions so they see the hidden costs of how they’re currently doing things. Find out about their challenges. Look for correlations and get them to open up. Ask them problem-solving prompts like, “How is that affecting this?” This allows them to start to see the challenges they may not have seen before. And since it’s them seeing it, not you directly saying “Your problem is this,” they will be more receptive to your planning solution and event expertise.

    Show them what they’re missing or what could be, but make sure you do this step after you know what they value. If not, you could be offering something they are not at all interested in.

  3. Talk About Return on Investment and Results Not Individual Costs

    Because you already know what your potential client finds value in, you can quickly structure this conversation to show what they’re getting from you over and above your traditional services. If you show them value at every meeting and in every call or if you explain they’re getting something with you that most event planners charge for, they are more likely to feel good about spending the money, which brings us to…

  4. Educate Them with Stories about How Your Service Has Brought Success or Solved Problems for Other Clients.

    Have you ever known someone who is so wise it feels like every moment spent with them is a life lesson? You feel compelled to take notes. If you can do the same for your clients (in a humble way, of course), they will see value in simply talking to you.

    This may seem disingenuous but keep track of all the times you counsel them on the phone or over email. They may not be aware how often they lean on you for support or the answers to their questions. This is not so much so that you will throw it in their face one day and say, “Look what I’ve done for you” but so that you can recognize the pattern of the type of help you provide. It may assist you in creating more valuable content or programs.

    You also want to show them best practices you’ve shared with other customers and what’s worked for them. Whenever possible, use clients that are similar to the one you’re trying to win over. That way their success will feel more achievable. Using big name market examples (not your own) that other event planners have been involved with doesn’t bring value to your client. It just shows you can read articles.

    This will help your prospective client place a value on your services that they won’t find with another event planner. Make sure they understand the institutional knowledge you have and the bargain that it is.

  1. Make Sure Your Pricing Isn’t the Problem. Options Are Only Ideal if People Upgrade Instead of Downgrade.

    Nowhere in the event planner’s book does it say that you must offer pricing tiers. However, if you want to do so, make sure they are effective. You do this by avoiding these pricing traps:

    • Too much choice in services offered
    • Too big or little a valley between tiers

    Most people worry their pricing is too expensive and so they end up slashing it and discounting it to the point that they’ve eroded their profit. If you are providing value and serving your target customer, you are generally not charging too much. Look at Macs, for instance. In some cases, those computers cost nearly double what PCs do. And yet most of their users are loyal and won’t ever switch back to PC. Their iPhones have a loyalty rate of 92%. Though Macs are expensive, should they be defined as a luxury brand or are they more of a lifestyle choice? People from all types of household budgets set aside the money for something they see value in. So while price may be a factor for some people, it’s not for everyone.

    Avoid These Mistakes
    Make sure that you don’t make these mistakes which undermine your unique value proposition.

    Too Many Choices

    When you offer too many choices, clients get lost in options and end up making the decision based on their wallets. It’s the only thing they understand.
    Take a look at software and technology companies. They generally offer three options – a free, a middle, and an enterprise option, or three options in addition to the free one. Their livelihood relies on their ability to get customers to opt for something other than free. They need to provide basic service but limit it in some way that will make people buy instead of remaining free customers. If they had ten different choices, customers wouldn’t take the time to assess them and they’d just select the cheapest.

    Too Big or Little Difference Between Tiers

    The same can be said when there is too vast a difference between pricing options. For instance, let’s assume you have two different types of service as an event planner. The first one is standard planning, no frills. Just planning You’re on your own for the day-of management. The second plan is a personal concierge type service where you practically offer to live with the person while you’re in charge of their event.
    Does it feel like something’s missing? How about the “just right” solution?
    If you have services priced at either side of a giant canyon, clients will likely stay on the safe side, the one where they’re not shelling out an exorbitant amount. In order to get them to traverse the great divide with you, you need to first give them some middle ground, a pricing option that is comfortable with a slightly smaller price point but also fewer services.
    Again, you don’t have to offer multiple plans but if you do, you need to take a note from how software companies price.

    • Label one of your options as a “best value” option.
    • Differentiate with something of value. Tech companies often use the number of accounts as a differentiator. And there’s no getting around this. For instance, if you’re looking at social media scheduling software and the free account only allows you to post to two social media accounts, guess what? You’re going to pay for the upgrade. Very few people these days are using schedulers for only 1-2 accounts.
    • Use price anchoring. Having an executive level pricing structure for event planning may not get a lot of bites but it makes your less expensive options feel like a steal. Just as bright light affects the color we see, having an expensive tier on the same page with another option, sets the tone for how people perceive it.

In Conclusion

Clients are busy. We can’t expect them to sort through all the differences in our services and those they’re comparing us to. If we wait for them to derive the value, we’ll likely be waiting a long time. It’s up to us as event professionals to point it out…and often. But to be effective at helping them to see value we have to invest the time in having conversations, not sales pitches.

(Social Coup LLC)

“EG Tips” – 4 Steps to Implementing Diversity at Events

“EG Tips” – 4 Steps to Implementing Diversity at Events

When planning your event do you think about every little need or accommodation that you attendees might need? From accessibility to food allergies to religious requirements and more, you need to make sure that you event is set up for success when it comes to diversity.
  1. Start with Your Team

    You need to look at who you are working with and make sure that they understand the importance of diversity for your event. This means putting in place a framework and a guide on what your team needs to know when it comes to diversity.

    • Start to read metrics on diversity and inclusion. For example, there are more CEOs named John then there are female CEOs at large companies. Become educated on what is happening around you so that you can take the steps to change the norm. Don’t only read the metrics, but read the news and see the stories that are happening. Make sure that your team knows your stance on diversity and what they need to do to accommodate all.
    • When assembling your team, try and have diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, personalities and genders. This makes sure that you have thought of everything when it comes to planning your event. Think about your own group of friends, you are not all alike because that would be boring. You have a difference of opinions and ideas that make you see things in a new light. Set up your event team like that.
  2. Think About Event Logistics

    Now that your team is organized you need to start getting your event in order. This means thinking of ways that you can add diversity into your event and thinking about certain scheduling conflicts when it comes to logistics.

    • Whatever type of event you are hosting, whether it is pharmaceutical conference, technology summit or celebrity food event you need to keep your attendees in mind. When it comes to the date of your event, make sure that you steer clear of any major religious holidays and festivals. You don’t want to neglect some of your audience because your show falls on a sacred day for them. You would be losing an attendee and they would be losing out on valuable information from your event.
    • Invite a diverse group of people to your event. If you are hosting a global event, don’t just send invitations to people in your local area. Do your research and find other countries that would have an interest in your event and start placing ads on big media sites in the area. Do whatever you can do get a large group of people at your event from varying backgrounds, cultures, abilities and more. This is good for not only your event, but your attendees because they are able to network and learn from people with different views from them.
    • When thinking about your event agenda try and add some topics on diversity or inclusion. If you are hosting an event with a keynote speaker, considering inviting someone who is a diversity expert who can speak to the audience on the topic. If you have a large tradeshow, add a track on diversity and inclusion in events to encourage speakers to submit topics.
  1. Get Questions Answered During Registration

    If you want to make sure that you are meeting all the needs of your attendees, then ask them specific questions during registration. Registration should be simple for your attendees, but it should also be the place where they can put in any special requirements that they might need for specific reasons.

    • If you are hosting a global event you need to think about the language barrier. Add a section into your registration form that asks people if they will need materials or interpretation in another language.
    • This is also the place to find out of any dietary modifications that you attendees have. I would leave this question open ended because there are many different allergies, medical, personal and religious reasons that people cannot eat certain things.
    • Is your website accessible for those who cannot see? Look for a registration provider that is 508 compliant if you know you will be hosting an event where you will have people who have disabilities.
  2. Cover All Your Bases Onsite

    When you are looking for your event venue it can be a daunting task without even thinking about all the considerations that you need to put in place to make your attendees feel welcomed. There are a few things to remember.

    • If you are looking at a venue with multiple levels, is there an elevator available for wheelchair users or people with disabilities? You don’t want to alienate one of your attendees from the start.
    • When thinking of cocktail hours or food options make sure you have some tables that are lower to the ground so that food is in reach for everyone.
    • Find a venue with close, local transportation options. You want your venue to be easy to get to with multiple ways to do so. Also, consider having parking spaces clearly marked with an international symbol for accessibility.
    • Part of great meeting design is the seating options that you have. It is also important to make these accessible. Offer seating with backs to consider their varying needs, preferences and comfort levels.

In Conclusion

Successfully adding diversity to your event is a big task at hand. While you don’t need to start all at once, you should consider implementing a few options above to get things started. Once it is part of your normal event planning routine, it will be easier to add more options down the road.
Remember, you are there to make your attendees happy and feel welcome.

(Social Coup LLC)

“EG Tips” – 5 Principles to Make Every Minute of Your Meeting Count

“EG Tips” – 5 Principles to Make Every Minute of Your Meeting Count

There is nothing as annoying as a conference running late. It irritates the attendees, who then will go home on a negative sentiment; no matter how great the program was. Furthermore it has a negative effect on the success of the meeting, because running late leaves less time for reflection, harvesting and implementation.

How can we make sure, time is not our enemy? How can we make sure that – freely translated from the Rolling Stones’ song – ‘time is on our side’? There are some very simple solutions to this problem.

  1. One Goal, One Mission

    Most meeting-schedules are crammed from minute one to the last second. The meeting owner in most cases has many goals for the occasion, all to be targeted in this one day. The solution is as simple, as it is effective: limit the number of goals to ONE.

    Then take a close look, to see if even this one goal can be achieved in one single day. Maybe it is too much for the attendees to be convinced there is a problem, define what exactly it is, find the solutions and work on actual implementation in just a few hours.

  2. Spacious Planning

    Restrain your urge to estimate everything from the positive side. Transferring 200 people from one breakout session to another, including toilet-stop and getting a drink, is simply asking for trouble. It is better to ‘blow some air’ into the schedule. Embrace the slow philosophy in terms of your events.
    Cancel 20% of programmed items: it will push you into making better choices when it comes to content and it will help you find time to really achieve things.

    Nobody ever complained, when a meeting finished early. So, don’t hesitate to tell your guests drinks will be at 17.00, while planning to finish at 16.30. It will bring you the luxury of having the ten minutes extra time to spend, in case a programmed-item turns out to be even more interesting than expected.

  3. Focus On the Right Things

    When a schedule crashes, it’s often the wrong things that are sacrificed to getting back on track. Already in the meeting design phase, the amount of time for interaction is cut down, and this gets reduced further everytime a speaker is added to the line-up. Just because this one Professor or top-manager ‘simply has to be on stage’, there suddenly is only five minutes left for Question & Answer; completely ridiculous, of course! Or breaks are brought back to 10 minutes for coffee or half an hour lunch, ignoring the importance of networking; an opportunity wasted!

    That is why you need the guts to make choices. If there is a really good reason for scheduling the extra speaker, is it better to have no Q&A-time, then just five minutes… if you take your guests seriously? But even better: give the floor to the people in the room and skip one of the speakers. If you get to be really engaged as an attendee, if the event does end up running late this will be more acceptable than a speaker going over time.

    This at the very least means, planning enough time at the end of the day to summarize and take decisions. Running late earlier in the program can not lead to forgetting about the harvesting.

    Also during the course of the day, delegates need time to convert what they’ve seen, heard and experienced to their day-to-day reality. If you are shooed from one item planned too tight to another, you will not be able to process and implement what you’ve learned. So once again: allow time, to reflect and settle.

  1. Be (Not Too) Strict

    By keeping to the schedule at one point, there’s room for running a bit late elsewhere. That’s why you need to constrain your speakers. Brief them clearly on what their role is and force them gently to stick to that. Too many speakers spend a large portion of their timeslot repeating what someone else already said. By briefing better and making speakers keep the timeframe, you prevent them taking too long.

    On the other hand, you should allow yourself, your guests and your moderator to run late on occasion. If some speaker, discussion, workshop, panel, group-interaction, or whatever turns out to be crucial to the objective of the day, running late is a good option. If you are really enjoying something and you feel the importance of ‘the momentum’, you will be more than happy to put in the extra time.

  2. Find the Right Moderator

    Not every moderator is a match with every format. One will feel very comfortable interviewing or hosting panels, others prefer debating or interacting with the attendees. That leads to a simple conclusion: the better the format suits you, the easier time-management will be for you; simply because you understand the format and you know what the meeting is all about, making decision on anything, including the schedule, is so much easier. Working with the right moderator therefore will automatically mean running late is avoided.

In Conclusion

We can say that running late is not fair. Not to the meeting owner, who really wants to achieve something. Not to the attendees, who deserve a day well spent. And not to the meeting-moderator, who should be given the chance to be more than a time-obsessed dictator.
Taking time to do things is not the solution. It is giving time to things that will bring us to the next level.

(Social Coup LLC)