Protecting Your Special Event and Marketing Ideas

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At A Wynning Event, when a new client requests a proposal, I am always so excited and I get right to work researching their company, checking out the fellow competitors, looking at possible new venues and thinking about themes and new ideas for entertainment.  I spend the time researching and writing the proposal, submit it and then follow up.  Sometimes I win and sometimes my competitors win.  That is the way the event world works.  But what do you say or do when neither you nor your competitor gets the job but the potential new client takes your proposal and implements it themselves?    What can you say?  Do you copyright your proposals?  Ask for a fee upfront for your ideas?

I have spoken to quite a few other event planners and no one seems to have the “right” answer.  What we have found at A Wynning Event is with the corporate budgets tightening, the budgets we are provided to create events are more challenging and I am hearing from many other event planners the same situation.  Thus, is it forcing companies to generate event proposals to get ideas?  Is there anything that can be done?  After all, writing the proposal and coming up with entertainment, venue and catering ideas and the look, feel and flow of the event is half the work.  In fact, the easier part of the proposal is implementing it.  So how do we protect our ideas and get paid for them? 

Good question (if I do say so myself) and having asked around for a while no one seems to have a good answer.  After all, you want to provide the potential client with an accurate picture of how their event will look, you want to show them that you are creative and can save them dollars, you want them to see that you are the only person who can visualize their ideas and implement them efficiently and produce a memorable and great event.  So essentially, you are providing them with the roadmap.  I guess there maybe a couple of answers here.

 

One answer maybe (and mind you it has to be tactfully done) is to tell the client upfront that you charge for your proposals, and if you win the contract, then that fee is included in your production and coordination fee.  Also, you may want them to sign off on a non-disclosure agreement explaining to them what has been done in the past and that you are just trying to avoid a reoccurrence.  I’ve done this before and it worked perfectly.  I won the job and did a couple of events for this client until they hired their own in-house event team.

 

Provide the potential client with just a capabilities proposal and once they sign off on a contract and provide you with a deposit, then give them the details.  The problem with this solution is that it only works when the client is just looking for a team and not set on a theme or venue.  They just know they want to do an event.

 

Finally, give them enough to pique their curiosity, provide generalizations and pictures but avoid the details until you receive a signed contract and deposit.  Apparently, as I have been asking around, this seems to be the method of madness du jour. 

 

Whatever appears to be the case, one thing is certain.  At A Wynning Event we take pride in our work, our creativity and our network of resources and will always do our best to provide the most for an event while staying within the provided budget parameters.

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