As a vendor in the events industry, standing out and securing regular bookings is crucial for your long term success. One effective way to achieve this is by creating strong partnerships with Event Planners, and the best way is to get added to an Event Planner’s Preferred Vendor List. In this blog, we will explore the significance of being a Preferred Vendor, how to become one, and how to build strong partnerships in the events industry.

Sooo…what is a Preferred Vendor?

A Preferred Vendors List is a carefully curated selection of trusted and reliable event vendors that Event Planners regularly turn to when organizing their events. Venues also have their own Preferred Vendors Lists of vendors that know the space well and have demonstrated excellence when operating in the space, so the venue wants to refer them more. Sometimes venues even have Exclusive Vendor Lists, which means that *only* those vendors are allowed to operate in the space, so it’s a mandate not a preference.

Ultimately, Preferred Vendors make Event Planners and Venues jobs easier by those vendors knowing the space well, doing a great job executing on events, leaving the space clean, and just being overall friendly and easy to work with. 

Aaaand, why is it important? How does it help me build my business?

Being on a Preferred Vendor List boosts your credibility and establishes you as a trusted professional in the eyes of Event Planners, venues, and clients. This distinction gives you a competitive advantage, enabling you to generate more leads, secure more clients, and build a strong portfolio, paving the way for long-term success. Being added to these lists means you become one of the main go-to choices for exceptional service, high-quality offerings, and flawless execution to clients of the Planner & the Venue. You get referred more often since you’re only one of a few vendors in a select category listed, which means potential for more bookings.

Here are our tips to becoming and maintaining your status as Preferred Vendors. For this blog we’ll focus on the relationship with Vendors & Event Planners, but the advice is very similar for venues as well.

Keep reading to learn our best practices!

1) Build Relationships with Event Planners.

Building relationships with Event Planners is a crucial step towards becoming a preferred vendor. We want to emphasize the importance of the word ‘relationship’ here — Relationships are long term. This means that building strong relationships will take time, attention, and care. As Planners ourselves, we don’t pay much attention to cold emails, especially ones that are super boilerplate and impersonal. We are looking to build with people who actually know us, have researched us, are part of the local creative community, and care about our mission, vision, values and what we’re trying to achieve as a company. 

Cold emails and random DMs are fine, as long as they are personalized and genuine. Don’t expect Planners to email back right away. Be attentive, but not annoying. Attending industry events and conferences (check out ILEA NCC for example) where you can connect in person with Planners in the field is a great and accessible way to introduce yourself and meet new people. Don’t underestimate the power of social media platforms to engage with event planners and establish meaningful connections. Sometimes it just takes a quick DM or a few comments on things to catch their attention.

Consider offering special promotions, discounts, or even a free service to demonstrate your commitment and value. MIM often does nonprofit and charity events – some of our favorite vendors we’ve found because they donated their services to charity events first, then we saw how amazing they were and added them to our list immediately! It’s like giving the Event Planner and their team a little taste of what you can offer and how you can add value to the event experience, in order to invest in a future partnership.

2) Understand the Event Planner’s Needs.

To become a preferred vendor, it’s essential to understand the needs and expectations of Event Planners.  Reviewing their portfolio and services on their website is an easy way to gain insights into their style, preferences, and the type of clients they serve. When you reach out to introduce yourself, make sure you have a Portfolio with relevant work readily available to share with them so they can see your offerings easily. Try offering to treat them to coffee or happy hour, or invite them to a cool industry party where you can meet and chat 1:1 and pitch your services. Spend time listening to their needs, and offer ways that you can help. 

PRO TIP: Consider offering a demo or tasting session (for caterers) to Event Planners, allowing them to experience your offerings firsthand.

3) Showcase Your Work & Have High Res Photos Accessible.

Having (and maintaining) a professional website and active social media profile is essential. Use these platforms to showcase your best work, positive reviews, and testimonials from satisfied clients. Use your website as a living portfolio that highlights the diversity and quality of your services. 

Most importantly, make sure you have a gallery with HIGH RES PHOTOS available to easily download that showcase your services. Event Planners pull photos directly from your website in order to pitch you to clients. If great photos are not available, we’ll pull what we can from the interwebs. Make it easy for Event Planners to showcase how awesome you are, which makes it easier for Clients to pick you in the end. (ala Jerry Maguire — “Help me, help you!”)

PRO TIP: Have a strong About page that talks about who you are and your values. Yes, your services are important, but the face of the business is also important. We want to know why you do what you do and who you are. At MIM we try hard to highlight women, POC (people of color), and LGBT vendors, so putting on your website if you identify with any specific communities helps. 

4) Have Clear Packages & Rate Sheets Ready.

We honestly cannot stress this enough! The way full service Event Agencies (like Make it Mariko) work is that we bid for events with an entire budget even before we sign a contract and start planning with a client. That means that most of the time when an agency bids for an event, we already know which vendors we’re considering for the event since we already know their prices and offerings upfront, so that way we can “hold space in the budget” for that vendor from the start. To be able to consider you at this early stage, we need to know your rates and packages upfront to know if you’re a good fit. 

That’s why it’s so important for YOU as a vendor to know who your target audience is. 

  • What kind of events are you looking to do? 
  • What budgets are you interested in working with? 
  • Are you willing to be flexible in your rates for specific types of events?
  • What kind of events do you NOT want to do? 

These are all questions you should answer for yourself before even reaching out to any Event Planners. 

To streamline the booking process, have clear and transparent rate packages readily available. This will help Event Planners make informed decisions and easily understand the value you provide. Clearly outline your services, pricing options, and any additional features or benefits to ensure a smooth collaboration. The less questions event planner teams have to ask, the better! 

5) Follow Up and Follow Through.

Building and maintaining relationships requires ongoing effort. Stay in touch with Event Planners even after an event concludes. Keep them updated on your availability and services, offering personalized suggestions for their future events. Invite them to events! Continuously provide excellent service and strive to exceed their expectations, reinforcing your position as a preferred vendor. 

Become friends! Attend the Planner’s events yourself and help them promote. We have become close friends and partners with some vendors just because they consistently come to our events, offer us great deals, and generally stay in contact in an authentic way. We came for the events, but we stay for the friendship 🙂

6) Provide Excellent Service.

Providing exceptional service is the cornerstone of becoming a Preferred Vendor. Communicate promptly and effectively, ensuring that you address any queries or concerns in a timely manner. Be reliable and professional, delivering your services with the utmost care and attention to detail. Strive to exceed expectations by going the extra mile and making the Event Planner’s job easier. If any issues arise, address them quickly and efficiently to maintain a strong working relationship. And give feedback! If there’s any way the process could’ve been better, share that with the Planner so you can have a two-way conversation and both help each other be better.

It’s important to remember that just as you can be added to a list, you can also be taken off.  So it’s important to give great service and attention to detail so that you maintain your strong relationship with the partnerships you’ve built. 

squad team

Let’s Build Together!

Becoming a preferred vendor for Event Planners is a significant milestone that can elevate your business to new heights. By understanding their needs, building relationships, providing excellent service, showcasing your work, and maintaining follow-up, you can establish yourself as a trusted partner. Take action today and start building relationships with Event Planners in your circle, paving the way for a successful and rewarding future in the events industry.

If you’re interested in becoming a Preferred Vendor for Make it Mariko, fill out the form below to be considered for our list! We are excited to be announcing an open RFP (Request for Proposals) process so that we can add more vendors to our list. We’re specifically looking to add the following folks to our list:

Wedding Hair & Makeup Artists
Graphic Designers
Contract Event Planners