If you’ve been gigging for a while, I’m sure you’ve noticed how unpredictable bookings can be! Sometimes it’s slow, and other times, when it rains it pours!
Usually the first question I hear from clients in this situation is -
It makes sense, if you want to get more work, you want to focus on ways to find more clients.
But, I can tell you from firsthand experience, that the most powerful way to increase your bookings is to focus on your current clients FIRST.
One of the things we focus on at Circus Boss is how to be more effective with your time and money. Because let’s face it, for most of us, the admin and sales part is not our favorite part of this biz!
So, I’ve compiled 21 actionable ways for you to create a steady stream of repeat client bookings - which leads to more money, and more consistent work.
And if you’re new to event work, even adding 3-5 of these tips now will help you grow your business faster!
Networking and marketing = time and money.
So if your resources are limited, focusing on re-engaging your existing clients can have exponential results.
Have you ever tracked how many networking events, social media posts, emails and phone calls it takes to book just ONE event? Wouldn't it make sense to spend 5 times less than that to book a repeat client?
All of our largest events were with repeat clients. It takes a lot of trust for a new client to spend $20,000 with someone they’ve never worked with before!
In fact, we used to joke that our Animated Food Servers (strolling champagne dress, roving buffet table, etc) were our ‘gateway entertainment’. These offerings were especially great for clients that hadn’t booked entertainment before. Because everyone needs food and drinks at their event! This gave them a chance to experience the magical world we create, and more often than not, we added other types of entertainment on their next event.
A strong foundation of our business was our repeat clients, especially planners and venues.
If you can build strong relationships with clients that produce a high volume of events, you can keep that calendar full of event bookings!
If you’re the type of artist that loves creating new things all the time (like me!) - repeat clients are going to be your best friends!
Or as I used to joke, my repeat clients were the ones that supported my addiction to making new costumes and shows all the time, because that can be an expensive habit! 🤣
When you’ve already established trust and a track record of amazing performances, it means you can pitch new ideas with less effort. You can get them excited about a new idea from just some sketches and a description, and you won’t have to ‘prove’ how awesome it will be.
And especially in the events industry, clients and planners are always looking for what’s ‘new’. So you can be their trusted partner in always bringing fresh new ideas to their events.
We’ve all heard that word of mouth is the best form of marketing, right?
So, nurturing your clients not only encourages repeat bookings, but these repeat clients are the first to recommend you to others.
Don’t take this statistic lightly. This means that focusing on your CURRENT clients can bring you NEW clients. That is the best form of lead generation out there, and more of that exponential growth I’m talking about!
If all these points aren’t enough to convince you of the importance of focusing on your current clients, think about how much work goes into educating clients on the benefits of having entertainment at their event, and how circus as entertainment works!
This makes your proposal and sales process easier, and they’re less likely to micro-manage on event day!
Every event you do with the same client gets easier - and most of the time more enjoyable!
So, let’s get into those tangible steps to build a steady stream of repeat work!
These are strategies that we incorporated into our workflow during the 15 years we ran our entertainment company. So I’m not expecting you to do all of these at once!
There’s a lot here, so pick what excites you to work on first. Even if you can only focus on two of these per month, in a year’s time you’ll have it all set up.
1. Make your booking process fast, easy and professional
2. Show your client you care about them and their success
They are a person too! Check in on them during the event, see if they need anything. The success of the whole event is riding on their shoulders. Even a simple gesture of brining them water or a coffee during an event can be HUGE!
3. Provide excellent client service
Be early, stay on top of timelines and manage your team during the event - so the client doesn't have to, and leave the dressing room cleaner than you found it.
Managing all the event details is also a part of this. We used monday.com as a project management tool to make this more efficient and not let details fall through the cracks.
4. Be flexible
You've spent years working on your physical flexibility, now lets apply that to event work! Events are fast paced and have lots of moving parts, so as long as your safety isn't compromised, can you be flexible and adjust when a client asks?
Now, I'm all about coordinating your tech needs to present your best performance ever. In fact, I even have a course all about Act Production at events. But it's a dance of finding the best possible outcome that works for everyone.
5. Be a team player
Attend site visits and meetings, get to know other vendors, offer to coordinate tech needs. (that's another thing we cover in ACTivate! Act Production Course)
6. Send a thank you card
One of our most effective touch points was to take a photo with our performers in costume with our client at the event. Then we used on online service that allowed us to upload the photo to a post card, and they handled mailing it for us. I learned this strategy from a business coach years ago, and it was so popular, we even had one of our event planners start doing it for their clients.
Why is this so effective? People like pictures of themselves. And they LOVE photos with cool performers. Clients will post this on their bulletin board at work, or the fridge at home to remember the magical experience you created together.
I learned a phrase from a different business coach that has always stuck with me - Thank before you bank!
If you prioritize sending out a thank you card before you deposit their check, it'll become second nature to send thank you cards after an event.
7. Post-event client survey
After you send the thank you card, send an email thank you and ask them for feedback. It shows you care about the work you're doing, and can give you crucial info to improve your services.
8. Invite them to follow your socials
Invite them to follow on your socials. You always want your clients to know that you offer more than what they hired you to do. And, it's a way they can show others what you do.
We were at networking events all the time where one client would pull out their phone and start showing our IG account to another potential client!
9. Send out monthly emails
I mentioned earlier that Word of Mouth is the best marketing. So, not only do emails keep you top of mind and share what you're up to, you can also use it to educate clients about how to talk about you - and what you offer.
It's like creating a whole team of sales people out their telling everyone how awesome you are. We use ConvertKit
10. Subscribe to their newsletters
Show an interest in what's happening in your client's world. When you see an email, hit reply with a quick note of support. Also, you can mention what you read about the next time you see them. It shows you care about them as people, and not just someone that can get you work.
11. Mark your clients as ‘favorites’ on IG
If you don't do emails yet, you can also do the same things on IG. Add to your workflow that every time you book a new event, follow them on IG and mark them as a 'favorite'.
This is an algorithm hack that will focus your feed on your clients so you’ll see their content, and then drop a compliment on their posts.
12. Be proactive with annual events
If you're hired for an event, ask if they do this event every year. Then program reminders in your calendar to reach out 3-6 months before their event. Ask if they need help with ideas for entertainment to get the convo started, or share your newest offerings. It's a great way to remind them about you before they've allocated their budget to other vendors.
13. Attend their events, or events they're going to
Since you're following clients on social and getting their newsletters, be sure to attend their events when you can. Things like open houses, tastings and trade shows.
Also, if you see they're mentioning a networking event they'll be at - go! You can see on FB events who's signed up as going, and some event industry association meetings post a list of who's registered.
If you're a performer working for an entertainment company and they also produce public shows, ask to volunteer as an usher or stage crew.
14. Make personal touch points
When you see an article, photo, or something that makes you think of a client, send a quick 'this made me think of you' email or DM.
15. Offer free tickets to your shows
If you're performing at an event, or sponsoring entertainment at an open house and get comps, I always recommend offering them to your favorite clients instead of friends.
16. Reward repeat customers
You can offer new clients 10% off their next booking. Or if someone books you a lot, consider offering discount on all their future events. You can say, once a client books us more than 5 times in a calendar year, we offer a 10% ongoing discount for all their events.
If that feels like too much to track, we offered an Early Bird Discount for events booked more than 4 months in advance. If you do something like that, all you have to do is let you client know about this - so they can take advantage of that next time.
17. Send updates and exclusive offers
People love to be 'in the know' and feel special. If you're using an email provider, create a 'client' tag, and include conditional content that only they see in your emails. This is where you can share new acts or costumes, open prime dates to them first, and any other offers you only want to share with existing clients.
If you like the idea of getting fancy with your email list, I'll be teaching an email marketing course in April. Drop your name here if you want more info on that.
18. Create a ‘close friends’ group on IG
Again, if email isn't your jam, you can do a similar thing on IG. Add your clients to a 'close friends' group and you can share content to your stories that only they see! Here you can share behind the scenes and works in progress that you aren't ready to share with the masses yet.
This will get them excited about what you’re developing, so once you're ready to start booking these new offers, they're like - sign me up already!
19. Build a referral network
If you're feeling like you can't quite get access to your clients, you can always reach out to your favorite vendors that are already working with clients you love. Tell these vendors you want to refer them to your clients, and ask if they have digital material you share, or where you should send interested clients.
When you offer to refer other vendors, they'll probably start doing the same for you!
20. Remember their birthday
I had an old friend from college take a really great strategy when he was growing his dance company. Every year on my birthday I would get this lovely birthday message from him in my DMs. Facebook makes it easy to see birthdays. Just follow you clients, then spend 2 minutes a day looking at what birthdays are today.
If you want to automate something like this, you can use one of the services I mentioned in #6 above. You can literally enter your client's contact info and birthday, and they will mail it out for you!
21. Send a holiday gift
You can also automate a holiday card campaign with the services above.
Or consider making some merch branded with your logo and have an assistant or intern mail out a card with your branded gift. Thinks like a sticker or magnet are great, or you can go bigger for your highest paying clients and make a calendar full of your amazing photos!
Don't stress about starting all of these at the same time. Save this post and come back every time you're ready to start a new one.
And implementing some of these ideas would be a great job for an assistant, intern, apprentice, work study student, or even a volunteer.
I've just started to implement some of these with Circus Boss, so if you're doing coaching with us, or have purchased one of our courses, you can smile when you see some of these in action!
Have questions on any of these? Ask a question over in our Circus Boss Community Group on Facebook.
I'm excited to see your calendar fill up with repeat work - let me know how it goes for you!
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