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Mind Your Funnel

Why inquiries are low and how to combat it

You are ready to ramp up your business and start serving customers. You are offering a quality product or service, and inquiries should be coming in hand over fist, only… they aren’t. People are seeing your ads, responding to your posts, and landing on your website, but it’s going nowhere.

What’s happening?

You may have a leak in your sales funnel—and you need to plug it, pronto!

Your potential customers don’t typically begin their search for a vendor by inquiring right away—that’s because they know they’ll be on a sales call with you. If their first introduction to you is “BUY, BUY, BUY,” the only clients you will ever get are those that are ready to buy right then. Everyone else will ignore you, including those who don’t know you, those who need more information, and those who are “shopping around.”

There’s a whole journey they take from deciding they want to create an event to figuring out the details to finally making a move to buy or book. 

Successful caterers must keep this path in mind to make their marketing rock solid from start to finish. Otherwise, potential clients are leaking away to other businesses, which can happen anywhere along the way.

How do you ensure you capture a client's attention from the get-go, and keep them engaged all the way to the inquiry stage?

The secret is to map your sales funnel to the wedding planning journey.

There’s a natural and logical process to planning an event. If you create advertising, incentives, and appealing outreach that speaks to each stage, gaining and holding onto potential clients simply flows like water down... well, a funnel!

The top of your funnel can be divided into two core event planning stages: the inspiration stage and the research stage.

The most overlooked part of the sales and marketing funnel is the top of the funnel. This is where you can build trust and brand recognition. It’s also where savvy marketers “pixel” and otherwise track web traffic to remarket to potential clients later.

The top of your funnel can be divided into two core event planning stages: the inspiration stage and the research stage. Here are a few tips for successfully marketing to potential clients in each stage (and beating the competition to market).

The Inspiration Stage: This is the beginning of the event planning process, where potential clients are looking for ideas and inspiration that will inform the look, feel, and design of their event. Popular places to find inspiration include social media (especially Instagram and Pinterest), websites and blogs, and talking to friends and family.

• Where you should be directing your energy: Focus on getting your work and creative ideas featured on websites and blogs. Showcase your style, process, and happy clients on social media, especially Instagram. Optimize your content for Google search and Pinterest.

• Content and offerings: Highlight inspiration through your work on real weddings, locally-inspired ideas and details.

• Location in your sales funnel: Awareness – Interaction

• The next logical step for the client: Liking, commenting, sharing, pinning, saving. They may also visit a blog post or two or three on your website.

The Research Stage: Your potential client has likely made some decisions about location and starts reviewing options, including researching and comparing you against competitors. At this stage, they are looking at reviews and online directories, seeking referrals from friends, family, and other vendors, and stalking vendor social media channels.

• Where you should be: Google search, social media, your website

• Content and offerings: Give out tips (especially locally-specific tips), actionable information about your services and portfolio, and social media content that highlights your services and serves as a portfolio piece.

• Location in your sales funnel: Interaction – Interest

• The next logical step for the client: View web pages that show strong booking signals (portfolio, services, contact/inquiry page). They should be ready to inquire about your services.

Get your top-of-funnel marketing right and by the time potential clients are reaching out to ask about your services, they’ve been interacting with you from pretty much the moment they imagined their event. Your company is a part of their process, so inquiring about what you offer is a logical next step. Studies have shown that bringing in a client “cold” is much harder than simply extending a relationship you’ve already established. Best of all, a fully-functioning sales funnel is more than just a way to draw clients in—it becomes an exciting, warm, inviting and easy part of a client’s dream event.

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Christie Osborne

Owner | Mountainside Media

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that brings in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA and the ABC Conference.