Client Engagement Strategies for Catering and Event Services Businesses

One of the many challenges catering and events businesses face is getting clients to interact with them online. As a result, many business owners feel like they're out of touch with their clients. The good news is that sometimes simple tweaks can make a big difference in client engagement. We've compiled 7 strategies to help you improve client engagement for your business.

What is Client Engagement?

Client engagement is the interaction between a client and a business. When done correctly, engaging with clients has many benefits, including positive online reviews, client evangelism, and increased sales.

Effective Client Engagement Strategies

Many business owners don't know where to start when it comes to engaging clients. It can be intimidating to know that your communication sets the tone for your whole business. But client engagement doesn't have to be intimidating. After all, you probably engage with clients all the time! Here are 7 strategies for you to increase client engagement today.

1. Communicate Industry Information
A proven method for increasing client engagement for your business is by consistently discussing news, updates, and information in your industry. Clients who are interested in businesses like yours may appreciate being kept in the know about information as it relates to them. By sharing news and updates, you are establishing yourself as a thought leader for information. When clients need help or have questions, they'll know who to turn to.

You know your clients well—think of the types of information that will be relevant to them. For caterers, this mean sharing the latest trends so that clients or potential clients know that what to expect from your services. If you're offering trendy bite-sized tacos instead of pigs in a blanket or mason jar desserts instead of petit fours, share this information with your audience through a blog post and social media photos. 

This is the type of information that clients will appreciate. Put yourself in your clients' shoes—would this information help them choose your business over a competitor? Stand out from the competition by sharing what's new, relevant, or trendy in your industry. Clients love to be in-the-loop, so giving them inside access to your business and your industry can persuade them to engage with your business.

2. Provide Useful Content
Some ways you can communicate this information to your clients are by writing useful content for your business blog, creating tutorial videos for frequently asked questions, and sharing your content through your email newsletters and social media accounts. For example, a bartending business can provide tips on mixing up your own cocktails and post videos on Facebook on how to create the perfect garnish. This can instantly help increase client engagement.

3. Host an Event
Another way to increase client engagement is through events. Host a client appreciation event or an event encouraging current clients and clients to bring someone new. Or invite a loyal client to be your guest at an exclusive event. This will not only engage clients, but it will also extend the reach of your business.

Think of how you can tap into your market by giving people an opportunity to go behind the scenes or do something new. Promote your event through social media, email, and through Facebook events.  

4. Reward Client Loyalty
A benefit of increased client engagement is client loyalty. The more you engage and get to know your clients, the more loyal they will be to you. Take things a step further by rewarding loyal clients.

Your loyal clients are the ones who are continually spending money on your business and promoting your brand to their social circles, so why not reward them for their loyalty? Give your best clients a discount for the next time use your services or invite them to try out new products or services (new dishes, cocktails, makeup line, lighting system, etc.) before you offer it up to the public. 

If you have power referrers, who are people that consistently refer others to your business, reward them with a free gift and thank them for their referrals. It doesn't take much to make clients feel appreciated, but this engagement with clients can make them fiercely loyal to your business. 

5. Ask for Client Feedback
The easiest way to understand what clients want from your business is to simply ask them. Clients like being heard, so ask them what you can help them with, events they'd like to attend, or the type of content they'd like to read or watch from your business.

For example, if you're a florist and notice that business isn't as strong as it used to be, find out why. As previously-loyal clients why they went with another floral vendor. It could be that they ordered online or simply because you don't create centerpieces with succulents. By asking your clients what they're looking for and giving them what they want, you can gain more clients for your business.     

6. Engage with Your Clients
Engaging with clients and responding to their concerns is another way to build client engagement. If your clients don't think you are even going to look at their messages, there is a high chance they don't even bother sending them to you. However, if you consistently respond to every message you receive (both good and bad), clients will feel like they are actually being heard. This means being present on social media and monitoring what people are saying about you. Messaging clients who post opinions of your business on social media and commenting on posts you are tagged in are both great examples of client engagement strategies.

7. Manage Online Reviews
Keep tabs on what clients are saying about your business by managing your reviews on sites such as Yelp and Google. If you don't have a lot of positive reviews on these sites, work to increase the number of reviews that you have. If you have reviews but they're not all good, don't just ignore them. Learn how to deal with negative reviews on Yelp and Google to show clients that you're listening to them.

These 7 engagement strategies can help you get clients to interact with your business. client engagement done correctly can lead to clients sharing their positive experiences, which can bring in a whole new wave of new clients. Do you have any other strategies that you use to increase client engagement for your business? Let us know in the comments below!  

Melissa Coito is a Marketing Coach at ThriveHive where she works with small business owners to develop and implement marketing strategies. After building a career in digital strategy and usability consulting, Melissa co-founded several startups in the Boston area and worked as the VP of Marketing and Operations at a Cambridge-based startup. In her role as a ThriveHive Marketing Coach, Melissa has coached nearly 50 small business owners in a breadth of industries to help them develop holistic marketing strategies and optimize their growth.