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Valerie Bihet

How to Secure Event Business from Big-Name Brands

Vibe Agency founder Valerie Bihet shares five essential steps to winning event business from big-name brands.

When big-name brands host an event--whether it’s a company conference or a star-studded gala--they expect a certain level of professionalism, credibility and experience. Companies that are about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an event provide event planners with not only the opportunity to produce an incredible event, but also network with high-profile people and build their professional reputation. There’s a method, however, to earning big-name business.

After working with brands such as Dior, BMW, 3M and others throughout Europe and the U.S., we can share five things you must do to attract big name brands to your business:

1. Show that you understand their world.
You can’t just say “I want to plan events for luxury brands” and hope they give you the chance. You need to showcase that you understand their brand values and what “luxury” means to them. Even if they are a big name that reaches the masses, like L’Oréal, you need to demonstrate that you can help bring their revenue goals to life through an event.

This is where a solid marketing and PR strategy comes into play. Use past event photos, testimonials and press releases to illustrate what you can do for a brand. If you don’t have these things, utilize user-generated content and video to demonstrate that you can create the branded experience that will resonate with their event attendees--even if you haven’t done so before.

Facebook Live and pre-recorded videos posted on YouTube and Facebook are a great way to do this and have shown to make a big difference in my company’s online engagement. 

2. Live your brand and demonstrate your value proposition.
Your value proposition is what makes you or your company different from competitors. For instance, while there are many destination management companies and event planners in this industry, I found that being a French-born resident of Miami has allowed me to bring a European aesthetic to U.S. events. We infuse this European approach in all of Vibe Agency’s marketing, online advertising, presentations and meetings with prospective clients. 

We all have a unique perspective that only we can provide to a client. What is yours? Clearly identify it and then use it as the guidepost for all public initiatives of your business and professional life.

When you can truly live your brand and clearly articulate your value proposition, you’ll attract the clients who resonate with that. 

3. Focus on one brand target at a time.
Many luxury brands are part of a larger conglomerate that owns multiple smaller companies. Take LVMH, for example. This fashion house has various other brands under its umbrella including Veuve Clicquot, Marc Jacobs International, Geurlain, and TAG Heuer. 

The lesson here is to go after the individual brands and you’ll get your foot in the door with both its sister companies and parent company. While each traditionally makes its own decisions on hiring and events, it is not uncommon for them to turn to one another for recommendations.

4. Know whom to pitch.
Pull marketing is great, and a strategy I recommend all companies employ, but that doesn’t rule out the need for directly reaching out to your target client. When working with smaller companies, you’ve probably found that one person can wear many hats that their title may not clearly articulate. With Fortune 500 brands though, it’s much more structured.

Utilize LinkedIn to find the right person to talk to based on that person’s title, keeping in mind that he or she may not be the final decision-maker. For instance, if there is an internal event director or manager, you want to talk with him/her even though the vice president might be the one to approve new contracts. It’s important to follow the chain of command with larger companies to keep a positive reputation.

Plus, if you win over the manager or director first, that person will serve as your internal advocate to the higher-level executive.

5. Deliver, deliver, deliver.
Once you attract that big-name brand and secure the business, then it’s all a matter of delivery. You’ve got to do it big and go above and beyond expectations. This will both serve you well with that client but also increase the return of their business and win you notice from other brands of the same stature.

How so? Let me explain: Recognizable brands attract attention. Even if you don’t have a PR agency to work for you, bigger companies do. Create an event experience worth talking about, and they’ll work to get the PR for their investment. After all, corporate events are hosted for one of two main reasons: to build business or build brand recognition. Either way, exposure is important and press for them means press for you as the architect of that experience.

While working with big-name brands is a solid goal and financially beneficial for those looking to scale their businesses, the focus should be on making connections, building the kind of relationships and credibility that attracts bigger brands. Plus, finding the right niche doesn’t hurt either--one that reflects your passion and fits your culture and business.

Valerie Bihet has more than 20 years of experience in the management, design and production of special events that communicate and achieve her client’s objectives. Originally from Paris, Bihet founded Vibe, an event design and destination management company, in Miami in 2004. Since then, she has grown the company to eight employees and produced more than 1,100 events throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, East Asia and South America. Her clientele includes global brands such as Dior, Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, LVMH, Coty, L'Oréal, Barclays, Banco Santander, McCain, Merck, Thea Pharmaceuticals, and more. She received her master's degree in marketing and business administration from the renowned Sorbonne University in Paris.

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