Your Instagram is stocked with a handful or irresistibly festive photos, your first blog post of catering tips is ready for readers, and your e-storefront is open for business. You’re excited about helping clients plan and execute unforgettable events—now, it’s time to get those clients equally as excited about working with you!
The tactics you employ during the marketing stage will determine the growth of your catering and events business’ lead, and eventually client, base. From the start, it’s important that you demonstrate your brand’s values, goals and customer-centricity—and that you do so in a palatable and attractive way. One of the ways in which you might advertise such details to prospective clients is via a lead magnet.
What is a lead magnet?
Whether they are just learning about you or preparing to make their final purchase of your catering services, someone who is considering partnering with your brand is likely trying to gather situationally-relevant information in regard to your style, practices and experience. Perhaps they are determining whether your portfolio aligns with their intended event parameters, for example, or weighing your prices against those offered by your competitors.
The information for which they are searching might vary, however, one factor remains true across the board—no matter how close they are to the point of sale, leads want to feel confident about the news they are receiving concerning your brand, and the sources from which that information is coming.
As a business owner, it thus behooves you to meet potential clients early on in their brand search, and to offer them such desired information outright. One way to do so is through a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a way to provide potential clients, or leads, with the information they need, through a medium they want, in exchange for personal details you can use.
A successful lead magnet is one that both speaks to customers’ interests, and proves your brand’s ability to fulfill their needs (in this instance, the need for a competent, expert catering and events team). Therefore, recipients of your lead magnet should feel that you, as brand owner, are aware of their event planning expectations prior to their even explicitly mentioning them.
It is most common for a brand owner to request an email address in exchange for a lead magnet. That email stands in place of payment you would typically receive in exchange for an online good or service. More so than an email address, however, you are being granted with the immediate growth of your marketing funnel’s top, as well as a more direct method of growing the funnel’s middle, as leads continue to receive your promotional content.
Why you need a lead magnet
Because lead magnets instigate the development of your email-based contact pool, they are crucial for the growth of your online business. The bulk of your communication with leads, save perhaps for the earliest and latest moments, will occur via email. This is true when reaching out not only to one particular client, but to large groups of people. Keep in mind that there are countless programs you can use to personalize each message sent with the recipient’s name. It’s a small touch, but it can be crucial as you attempt to move leads to the middle of the marketing funnel, at which point personalization becomes key.
Furthermore, lead magnets provide you with a way to directly disseminate the information you feel leads should know, but which they should not necessarily receive in the form of something like a social media post. Consider the depth of engagement the average person has with social media content; yes, they may retweet on Twitter or re-pin on Pinterest, but such attention-grabbing content tends to be easily readable, and rapidly consumable.
Additionally, a lead magnet forces you, as a business owner, to further familiarize yourself with the needs and online behavior of those people who are most likely to become your future customers. As with designing your marketing funnel, creating a lead magnet requires that you return to, and continue developing your customer avatar. The more comfortable you are navigating the personalities and practices of your buyers, the more effective you will be at designing materials they find attractive.
Top 10 Lead Magnet Ideas for Catering and Events Business Owners
There is no shortage of fantastic lead magnets to offer your potential catering and events business’ customers. To get started, consider giving some of these popular examples a try:
1. Coupons: Coupons are often associated with the purchase of a physical product, but they can be an attractive attention-grabber for your catering and events leads, too. A large part of event planning is budgeting; your clients are likely well-aware of their financial constraints at even the earliest stages of preparation.
A coupon for your catering and events services, therefore, can be a welcome bonus for someone trying to make every dollar count—and, it shows potential clients that you are sensitive to their needs. When determining the appropriate discount for your business, consider details such as:
How much of a discount is realistic for your business’ needs (for example, 5% vs 15%);
Whether you’d like to require any further engagement between client and brand, before the offer can be activated;
And whether to put a size or budget constraint on the offering’s applicability (valid for events with up to x number of guests, or with y budget).
2. Sample event preparatory checklists: No matter how experienced your clients are in the world of hosting, you, as an industry professional, will undoubtedly still have a wealth of experience from which they can benefit. Offer leads a sneak-peak into such experience through a checklist of pre-event planning to-do’s. Depending on your client base, you might give this list a particular slant, such as details to keep in mind when planning a corporate luncheon. Take some time to develop a document of which you are proud, borrowing perhaps from your brand’s color scheme, or seasonally-relevant themes. The aesthetic will get leads excited about the eye for detail you could bring to their upcoming function.
3. A brief video demonstration: A short, two-to-three minute video is another easy way to provide leads with a preview of the particular skills or special touches you’ll be able to contribute to their event. Video topics might include how-to’s for creating a Thanksgiving centerpiece and buffet table, or examples preparatory methods for fresh ingredients. Video-based lead magnets don’t just have to be demonstrative of a certain skill, however. A short video is also an effective medium for telling the story of you, your brand and your employees. Leads will certainly appreciate the personalization and transparency from the get-go.
4. An eBook: eBooks are fantastic ways to pack a large amount of diverse, important information into a single lead magnet. Your eBook doesn’t have to be too long—and in fact, you won’t want it to be, as the information inside should inspire readers to discover more about your brand by progressing further down the marketing funnel. 10-15 pages is all you need to deliver your brand’s story, images from recent or seasonally-relevant events, sample recipes and more.
5. An audiobook: The information you provide in an eBook, can just as easily be recorded and delivered through an audiobook. Leads will therefore have the chance to conveniently learn about your brand as they commute to work, do tasks around the house, for go for a walk—and, in this hustle-driven world, convenience is appreciated by all! Audiobooks are also great methods for storytelling, so consider this lead magnet if your brand has a central narrative you’d love to share.
6. A webinar: A webinar, or web-seminar, is similar to a video demonstration, but more in-depth. These are great for visually communicating a skill or other piece of information you feel requires more than 2-3 minutes to share. You can also pre-record webinars, making them easy to send to leads receiving their magnets at various points.
7. An interactive, multi-person class: The content offered here is similar to that which you offer in a webinar, but the style of delivery is slightly different. Where a pre-recorded webinar negates the chance for real time communication between you and leads, a live, interactive class gives you the opportunity to chat with them, and answer any questions they might have, in the moment. They’ll also have the chance to talk amongst themselves, developing a community at the same time as a client base!
8. Giveaways: As with coupons, you’ll want to consider the parameters via which both your lead and your business will benefit from a giveaway. Potential giveaway prizes could include:
A complimentary one-hour phone or Skype consultation with you, to discuss details and concerns about the lead’s upcoming event;
A copy of any longer, industry-relevant publications you or another staff member has authored;
Or free equipment, such as chafing dishes or table spreads, to be awarded upon purchase of your catering and events service.
9. Newsletters: If you’re looking for a lead magnet with which you can easily maintain continuity from week-to-week, or month-to-month, consider disseminating a newsletter. These are great ways to keep leads up-to-date with business developments, event and social media highlights and more. Like eBooks, newsletters can share a variety of information in one document; unlike eBooks, they only have to be a few pages. Recipients will find value in the continuity and consistency with which you publish these. Not to mention, as with the video demonstrations, you’ll receive accolades for your transparency.
10. Exclusive blog content: You will obviously have blog posts up that are available for public consumption; such posts, you may even find, will become crucial to the growth of your marketing funnel’s top stage. You might also consider, however, keeping exclusive blog content tucked away for leads who have subscribed to a certain mailing list or newsletter.
Good luck as you grow your catering and events business!