When I began my Party Plan career I was an 18 year old military wife and newlywed living 1400 miles away from home. I knew my husband, and one other guy in his squadron because he had been in “A School” with us. I had joined a Mommy Group because I was expecting a little girl the next year, and befriended one girl named Brandy who became my best (and only!!) friend. When she invited me to a skin care party I said yes without even thinking – to say I was lonely out there was the understatement of the decade.
I was completely mesmerized by the party, the grace of the consultant, the PRODUCTS, and also how much FUN I had with women I didnt even know. Brandy announced that she was going to sign up to do the business, and I didnt skip a beat when I said “ME TOO!!” I spent $175 that night on my Consultant Kit and my husband went through the roof. I assured him I was “going to be a success” and it would “all pay off in the end.” It sounded so EASY.
I remember the first meeting that I went to and I again was mesmerized in mingling with people, seeing all of the beautiful business suits, glittering jewelry, perfect hair and makeup. The Consultant who I signed up under did the “Opportunity” portion of the meeting, showing pictures of huge houses, luxury cars, enormous bonus checks… I was absolutely beaming.
Until the meeting actually began.
For an entire hour I sat in a training meeting listening to how to book parties. I heard terms like “warm market” and “warm chatter.” (warm WHAT!?) And how to offer incentives at your parties to get more bookings. (WHAT PARTIES!?!? I don’t HAVE any parties!!! That’s why I am here!!) I heard how to successfully get your sister, mother, and best friend to book within your first 30 days so you will meet the Fast Track bonus. (I’m an only child… my mom is 1400 miles away… and my best friend joined the business the same night I did…) I left the meeting feeling completely crushed and wondering how in the World I was going to be able to at least make my $175 back before our next bill was due… my husband was already furious.
To make a long story short, I spent the next two months reading everything I could find online on how to book parties literally FROM SCRATCH. I spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours doing frivolous advertising and hanging out in chat rooms. (hey, it was the 90s!) I attended more “direct sales trainings” and seminars at a couple hundred dollars a piece (by this time I had to get a credit card to pay for all of this craziness) and still never heard anything that truly could HELP ME BOOK PARTIES!
So I started looking at other occupations to see what THEY were doing. I talked to Corporate Salesmen, Military Recruiters, Brick and Mortar business… apparently they were doing something right. I watched late night infomercials (and managed to not buy one of everything) I studied the “Art of Sales”, and the “Psychology of the Sale” and all of that other hoopla. I put everything I had learned together and mixed it all up.
And then I started GARDENING.
Though, at the time I didnt know it was Gardening. Then I just said I was “working my business” and it worked.
Gardening is the term we now use at Party Plan Divas for marketing your business. If you think of all of the things that go into planting a garden from scratch – they are very much the same as marketing your business. From needing a plan (where will you plant your seeds?) to watering your garden to make it grow (follow up) you must treat the building of your business like you are planting a garden.
Pack up little “Gardening Gifts” with your business information and a couple of samples wrapped in pretty packaging and go out Gardening. Walk into businesses and simply say “Hi, my name is _____ and I am expanding my business in this area. Would it be ok for me to leave you some information and samples for your employees?” (This is not soliciting because you are not selling anything!) If they ask what it is, then you have an invitation to talk more. If not, leave your goodies, and follow up later.Ã‚Â You can find tons of Gardening ideas in the Training Library of Party Plan Divas.
Booths, Fairs, and Expos
You can find an event any time of year, for any demographic (women, bridal, seniors) and in every price range. Google your city’s Chamber of Commerce for their Community Calendar. Do the same with local Civic Centers, Malls, Community Colleges, etc. Contact the person in charge of each event and ask about having a booth. Make sure you donate a little something to each one – more for the publicity than to gain the winner as a client.
If there isnt a Diva Success Sisters Chapter near you, consider starting one or looking for other women owned Networking events in your area. They may even be listed in the Community Calendar you used to look for Expos. This is a great place to meet other women business owners to learn from them, get the “inside scoop” on what events and opportunities are coming up, AND to offer to swap parties – you host one for her, and she hosts one for you!
Meetups, Nings, and Yahoogroups
Meetup.com, Ning.com, and Groups.yahoo.com are three incredible resources for meeting people who can become potential clients and hostesses. Check out these sites to see what kind of opportunities are around you. Join groups and attend events on things you are interested in. Forming friendships with people who have the same interests as you will help you to be more comfortable working your business into the relationship. Remember, these groups were designed for friendships – so be ready to make friends, whether they ever buy from you or not.
The bottom line is that you MUST get in front of people and build a relationship with them before you can build your business with them. If you are not willing to do the work to form the relationship, you will not go far in this business. Regardless of your product line, you are selling YOURSELF first. People have to know you. They have to like you. And they have to trust you.
We all hate “being salesmen” and it does not feel good (not to mention it is bad business) to try to use “the power of persuasion” to talk people into doing things they ordinarily wouldn’t do – especially by someone you do not know. Relax. Make friends. Get a hobby. Rekindle and old passion. Meet other people who like the same things. Watch your business grow, as well as your circle of friends! It’s a win-win!
*Find over 600 pages of training on every aspect of the Party Plan Industry by joining Party Plan Divas.com*