Tips for Forming Event Production Partnerships in 2016

Tips for Forming Event Production Partnerships in 2016

In their annual end-of-the-year survey, Special Events Magazine identified the key business improvements measures event professionals are planning to adopt in 2016. Top of the list? 51% of respondants said they’d primarily be looking to form partnerships with copacetic service providers.

And it makes sense: there are so many bits and bobs that go into event production – catering, A/V, printing and graphic design, PR, engineering, design, digital – that even the largest firms can’t reasonably bring every service in-house. Decibel has been fortunate to find and develop some excellent, long-standing partnerships with like-minded vendors over the last several years, so if you’re one of the many looking to find new opportunities for cooperation in the new year, here are a few pointers for drumming up solid vendor relationships.

Identify your weaknesses

If you’ve been in business any length of time, you can probably fire off a few thoughts about where you can stand to improve, or where your service listing is lacking. Identify two or three of your most pressing needs – requests your clients most often make that you’re forced to refuse or that leave you scrambling for a solution. Start there.

Do the research

Fire up the search engine and the networking skills and get busy. You might consider browsing Bizbash for suppliers in your area. Your ideal partner will:

  • Specialize in filling one or more of your immediate needs
  • Lack one or more of your specializations
  • Service a similar client base
  • Have a portfolio of work you admire
  • Be local. Yes, we know. It’s 2016, and everyone’s working remote. But if your partner will need to be on site for events, locality kinda matters.

Put Together a Partnership Package

The information that a potential partner needs is not necessarily the same information you offer on your client-facing website. Create a PDF (or other document) introducing yourself and your company to prospective allies. Your partnership package should include:

  • A very short background on your company, including key team members, primary service area, and how long you’ve been around
  • Your primary strengths and areas of expertise
  • Short portfolio of recent projects and past clients
  • Typical service volume (how many events you do per year on average)
  • A brief blurb about your ideal client and the type of project that gets you excited
  • Your contact info, naturally

No need to dig into numbers and pricing yet, that’ll come later.

Contact individuals, not companies

Sadly, email spam has become increasingly sophisticated, and “partnership spam” is on the rise. If you don’t want your introductory email to get lost in the mix of unsolicited SEO service form letters, you’d better hop on LinkedIn and find out exactly who you should be talking to. Send them a personal email, and attach your partnership package for quick reference.

Start courting before a project appears

Most event management businesses begin to develop partner and vendor relationships when an immediate need for that service arises and a project is already in the pipes. While that situation can’t be avoided in every instance (sometimes you didn’t know you needed until a client asks), it’s best to court vendors before you’re pressed for time. This gives you enough wiggle room to establish a more organic relationship and get insight into your prospective ally’s business ideology to see if you’re a match. Speaking of which…

Ideology matters

The best business relationships are mutually invigorating. Take the time to find out what your partner loves about the industry, what clients excite them, what type of projects they prefer to undertake, what their working speed and turn-around times are, and how they measure their own success once the event is complete.

Now, go forth and multiply.

David Sonntag
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