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  • McFarlane Promotions

The 4 Planning Stages of a New Client

As event planners, the point in the planning process in which you’re brought in to assist can vary greatly. Some clients will need assistance developing the concept for the event, while others might have everything mapped out, and they just need help with execution. Understanding the phase in which you’ll be coming on to the team is an important place to start when talking to a new client so that you can understand the next steps and what services they are needing from you.


We’ve identified four distinct planning stages that’ll help you identify the current position of the event and your client.


Stage 1: Theoretical

Stage 2: Confirmed

Stage 3: Progressing

Stage 4: Developed


Stage 1: Theoretical – It’s just an idea.

A client in stage one of the planning process knows they want to hold/host/produce an event, but they don’t know what that looks like. They need help formulating the concept(s) and also likely are searching for an understanding of how the process for creating an event works. They might even need help in selling the project to Supervisors or Board of Directors to get approval.


Your job is to understand the goals your client is looking to achieve with the event and come up with a few concept proposals designed to those goals. For tips on creating proposals that convert, CLICK HERE. Simultaneously, outline for your client the planning process and the future steps. Assist with creating presentation materials for your client to present to others to get the final thumbs up to move forward.


A client in this phase is searching for a planner with innovative ideas and the ability to confidently lead the project from the Start Line to the Finish Line.



Stage 2: Confirmed - It’s moving forward but the “how” is still TBD.

Your client comes to you knowing they’ll be holding a seated dinner fundraising gala OR a music festival OR an arts & craft show. They already have the internal approvals to move forward and are looking for a professional planner to guide the process and to execute the task level details to get the project rolling.


This client is ready to go and will be eager to lock in the foundational details for the event. Your job is to focus on the large-picture pieces like Venue, Date, Times, Theme, and General Programming. Immediately outline a planning timeline for your client showing a realistic, yet expedient, timeline for confirmation of these foundational details followed by the full schedule of smaller future tasks.


Stage 3: Progressing - It’s in process, but there are challenges.

This client knows they are moving forward with the event and already have some foundational work done. For example, a client in this phase might know they will be holding The Hot as Hell Hot Rod Show at Sam’s Warehouse Venue on June 15th from Noon-4PM. They might even have all of the Hot Rod exhibitors confirmed. But…they are noticing that tracking and communicating with their Hot Rod exhibitors is falling through the cracks, that the venue is getting frustrated because they cannot provide a proper schematic, or the health department has denied their application to have a Hot Wing tasting component to the event because they didn’t satisfy the sink requirements. This is where you come in!


This client is in need of an expert to wrangle the detailed execution of the event. Your job is to utilize your expertise of systems and processes and your connections within the industry to take the challenges your client is facing and turn them into your successes.



Stage 4: Developed - It’s nearly there, but the final details need attention.

Sometimes a client just needs a bit of help tying the bow on the whole presentation. Whether they’re looking for someone just to help on the day-of or are looking for an extra set of hands for the final months of prep, this client has a process and a plan that has been working well for them. Your role is to make sure that all final details are polished and confirmed so that your client can enjoy the event.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Thompson


Jenna is a mountain based Yogi with a love for veggie focused foods. When she's not in Warrior Pose you can find her spending time with her Avalanche Rescue Dog Luna with a Matcha Latte in hand!