Marketing is as much an art as it is a science. And while it’s important to have eyes on KPIs and marketing metrics, really great marketing can’t just be judged by the numbers—email list size, follower counts, and click-through rates only tell part of the story. There is a part of marketing that isn’t actually measurable, and that’s the part of marketing that stems from emotion. (Yup, emotions. And this is the art part of marketing.) So when it comes to creating that magical marketing mix we are all chasing for ourselves, authenticity is an important ingredient.
The reason you hear about “authenticity” so much is because it is a marketing must-have when it comes to developing a message that connects with the type of clients you want to serve. When you show up as your true and actual self and you deeply understand who your ideal clients are (more on that in a bit), you have what you need to establish credibility and trust with your audience. And, as service providers, there are few things more important than getting potential clients to know, like, and trust you. Event planning is an emotional experience; your ideal clients must know they can depend on you to solve the real challenges they are facing.
So, how can you take a more authentic approach to your own marketing? Here are a few exercises you can do to uncover what you need for more authentic marketing and to connect with the clients who are most excited to work with you.
Your “why” is an important part of your marketing story
No matter what type of event business you are, there will always be other companies that sell similar offerings—there will always be another photographer, caterer, designer, stationer, DJ, and planner. So when you are trying to create some space between your business and the others potential clients might be considering, you’ll never stand out by focusing on what you offer. Instead, you can only set yourself apart by sharing the why behind your business.
Why did you start your business? Why do you love doing it? Why are you great at what you do? Why do your clients love you? By highlighting your brand’s reason for being, you increase your chances of emotionally connecting with folks and gaining loyalty from those who share your values. Don’t believe me? Think about the brands you interact with most. They’re the ones you care about and are most likely to purchase from when you need a product or service—am I right?
The moral of this story? Share the “why” behind your business proudly! Talk about what inspires you. Reveal your biggest mistakes and what they taught you. Explain what your career means to you and why you work with your target niche. When your brand presence is inimitable in every email, blog, and social post, your marketing will act like a magnet for your dream clients.
Build a detailed customer persona
Getting on a soapbox and shouting your message to the masses might feel like marketing, but this approach actually does very little to attract potential (and high-quality) clients. Your marketing mission is not to reach as many people as possible; actually, your goal is to reach the right people. But, in order to do that, you need to know who you really want to serve on a deep level and tailor your messaging towards them.
Pro-tip: In addition to attracting the right people, authentic marketing helps you repel the wrong type. It might seem counterintuitive to turn away potential business, but it’s vital to creating an efficient marketing strategy. This approach lets couples pre-qualify themselves, allowing them to decide whether your services are a good fit rather than filling your pipeline with unlikely-to-buy leads.
When creating a customer persona, think beyond basic demographics like age, gender, income level, and geographic location. Those details are important, but you need to dig deeper and get to know your ideal clients as people. What are they excited about (as related to the event they are planning)? What are they really stressing about? What are the potential things motivating them they might never say publicly? What are their expectations, hopes, and worries? The more you flesh out your customer persona, the better you can develop messaging that speaks directly to them.
Authentic marketing requires a unique point of view
Your business and brand is one of a kind, so your marketing strategy should follow suit. And while it’s OK to share and celebrate other people’s work now and then, filling your feed with unoriginal content is inauthentic and really just means you’re contributing to all the noise out there. That’s why having a unique point of view (your point of view) is the key to getting your potential clients to know, like, and trust you and build brand loyalty.
One of the most important places it’s important to have a unique point of view is on your website (read: your website copy). As a marketing consultant who reads hundreds of event professional websites every year, I can tell you this is a place where people really miss the mark. And I know most of you are really uncomfortable writing, but looking to what others are doing and/or being really generic isn’t helping you. In fact, if you have the phrase You’re engaged, now what? on your website, I encourage you to take it down, because your potential clients are going to read this in a lot of other places. And while it might feel uncomfortable to really be authentic, I encourage you to dig deep and showcase your unique point of view, opinion, and approach—always.
I’ll leave you with this: You don’t need to pretend to be anyone else to win over the right clients. So take the time to develop an authentic marketing strategy, and realize that you are what potential clients want to buy, so you already have everything you need to be great at marketing—you just need to show the world why by being yourself.
A marketing consultant and small-business builder, Tayler is the Founder of Enji—an exciting new startup that launched in May 2023. (Though you might recognize her from one of her other companies: TAYLRD Media and Designs and Sourced Co.). In her newest endeavor, Tayler is taking everything she has learned over nearly a decade of helping small businesses with marketing to design and build a suite of online marketing tools that fit your lifestyle and make sense for you.