belief

my 2013 manifesto & the wedding industry

I will be speaking at the ABC Midwest Retreat at the beautiful West Baden Hotel next month. As I mulled over what to speak about, my fuzzy thoughts begun to form clearly in my mind. I know that I want to do something different.

So, I have begun my 2013 Manifesto for the wedding industry and personal goals. Think Jerry Maguire without the “You had me at Hello”).

I’ll be celebrating 10 years in this crazy, loving and wonderful industry. This is a short time compared to many, but long enough to be considered seasoned and to recognize that we have some cray-cray stuff going on.

  • Price undercutting
  • Blatant theivary of ideas and information amongst each other
  • Stress of balancing personal life with a business that offers very personal services
  • Strategies of how to manage the milleniual brides (Facebook, texting, Pinterest, strong demands to be available at any given moment to them)
  • Influx of new businesses that do not have the proper experience
  • How to develop new business
  • How to change up your sales game to ensure accuracy
  • Client Service Relations
  • How to stay relevant, in a quickly changing world

and the list goes on….

Honestly, I have some concerns about how it will be received, but as always, if I have something to say, I just say it. Because I know the people that come to me personally (behind-the-scenes) have the same issues, while they may not show it or talk about it with their peers.

It’s time to get real.

Especially since the media has decided to take out their cross-hairs and point it towards our industry. Yes, I’m referring to the (sensational) 20/20 news story of our industry. Everyone loves a good story of secracy and probable deception. It was one-sided and biased, as usual.

Funny thing, I actually had gotten off my butt and started an editorial calendar for my planning blog and had written this blog post entitled, Is the Wedding Industry Ripping You Off? I had wrote that blog post TWO WEEKS before the 20/20 segment aired, scheduled it and then forgot about it. Ah, I love irony and timing. Be sure to take a look at it and more importantly the comment section. One of my full-service clients chimed in (and thought the 20/20 story was ridiculous).

There have been some other followup stories as well. I almost hesitate to post this one, just because I would not like to give it anymore links or credibility that it deserves, but here goes: What the Wedding Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know This was written a planner who must have her own agenda and also has been in the business about as along as I have. Prepare to sit down to read it, it’s a mind-reeling, tilt your head to one-side, what in the hell were you thinking, doozy. One more reason I will NOT be watching the Ricki Lake show and will just tune into Ellen who’s sign-off is always, “Be Kind to One Another”.

Finally, I loved this follow up story from Susan Southerland, 20/20 Wedding Confidential: Negativity Sells Why yes ma’am, it certainly does.

As an industry, we can either look the other way, shake our heads and not say anything or we can ban together and make comments on blog posts, Facebook threads that attack our industry. We all know that we aren’t millionnaires (well 96.8% of us are not) in this crazy industry. We work out of the love of what we do, flexibility and the satisfaction from our clients. Although on some days, it is very hard to remember this.

So what say you? What’s your 2013 Manifesto? It’s more than goal writing, sometimes they are simply statements that define who you and your business and what you want to stay true to and accomplish. It’s a great reminder to go back to as the year gets going.

Love to hear your thoughts.

happy selling!

On the Twelfth Day of Selling…

On the Twelfth Day of Selling my sales coach gave to me….

VISUALIZATION

I’ve always touted that I keep it “real”, trust me when I tell you that I absolutely believe in the power of positivity and visualization. I have to remind myself of this when life gets me down.

Back in college my girlfriends and I had a saying, “Power of Positive Thinking”. It was my friend, Janet Thomas who started it. Mind you, this was YEARS before the The Secret became a phenomenon. It was the simple concept of concentrating your thoughts on what you want to have happen, and it would become a reality.

If you’ll indulge me, here’s my crazy story that made me a believer. In 1991, I backpacked through Europe with a girlfriend of mine. We split up leaving Italy and she went off to Belgium to visit family and I went to Berlin, Germany. By myself; with my Frommer’s guide and limited knowledge of the German language. Remember my college friend, Janet, who I mentioned above? As luck would have it, she was also suppose to be in Berlin during the same time period with another group. I wasn’t sure of her travel schedule and had no way of contacting her to find out where she was staying (long before everyone had a cell phone).

So at my flat, I decided to make some calls around to local Youth Groups thinking that I may catch a break and find her. No such luck. Feeling a tad lonely, I concentrated on finding my friend. I even remember saying out loud, “Janet, if you are here in Berlin….FIND ME!”. I laughed at myself, of course. Seriously not making this up.

The next day, I was doing the tourist thing and visiting museums (I believe it was the Reichstag). There I was looking at historical photographs and suddenly…in a quiet crowd of people, I hear, “Saaaaaaundraaaaa!” There was Janet (in this instance, I did not feel shame for squealing and being the loud “American”). She was touring museums with her group and we literally bumped into each other at the same time, the same place. Power of Positive thinking? You betcha.

What does this mean for you? Well stop and concentrate on only positive thoughts about selling your services. Take a moment and pull out the Thank You cards you received from clients and re-read them. You are awesome. People love you. You are worth it; to charge what you charge to stay in business.

Visualize a great year.

Visualize knocking out challenges or problems that come your way like you would a baseball, right out of the park (and out of your life).

Visualize good health and energy.

Visualize standing tall and strong and not be discouraged by competitors.

And when you start to feel down, then come back and read this post. Or anything else that gives you a kick in the rear.

Now get out there and DO IT! Let’s make 2011 one to remember….

Happy Selling!

photo: The Zen of Open Data Where ELSE would I get a photo like this?

How to SELL clients when you are NEW in business

If you are new to the event industry biz, it can be very daunting about how to promote yourself to get business. You may have done the due diligence on your art and business plan, but have no portfolio to show potential clients. So how do you sell?

Let’s flip this. Here is what you SHOULD NOT do:

1.  Talk about your own wedding. Please, if you have in your bio, “……after planning my own wedding in 2007, I grew to love the art of planning weddings and subsequently opened my own boutique, full-service wedding planning business…”

If that is on your website or on any printed sales collateral  (no matter how long you have been in business), I want you to stop reading this and immediately go and delete it. Clients do not care how great your wedding was. The fact that you were able to please yourself with your wedding planning skills is of  no consequence to them, nor their special, special day. And frankly, it screams that you are very GREEN to the business. So please. Do not stop go. Do not collect $200, remove it now and we shall never speak of this again. (p.s. Likewise, it is never a good idea to have just your wedding in your gallery.)

2. Do not lie. Do not tell clients/vendors that you have 10 years of experience in wedding planning, when really you’ve only worked 2-3 weddings over the past few years. Through the gift of Google, people can find this information out. You don’t want to lose credibility and frankly, veteran vendors can decipher how experienced you are in about 5 minutes of a conversation. Vendors refer other vendors. You get the drift.

3. Do not put yourself down. We all had to be “new” at one time or another. If you have a lot of practical experience in event planning with groups or non-profits, then play that up! Real business experience is worth A LOT. A new creative photographer for example, that has taken photography classes and has worked in corporate world for years will be at a higher level than someone with no experience straight out of college. Play up all your strengths.

4. Do not offer up that you are new. Just as you should not lie about your newness, you should also not voluntarily admit in your sales conversations, “Well, I’m new at this….”. You remember the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy the military adopted? Same applies here. Don’t offer up pitfalls for you to fall into. However, if someone asks directly, have a great response prepared in advance so you don’t fumble.

Example:
Client:
“How long have you been making custom wedding invitations?” 
You:
“While I haven’t been in the wedding industry as long as others designers, I have had xx years of experience in graphic design, meeting deadlines, creating one-of-a-kind flawless designs that have made others stop in their tracks. I am absolutely dedicated to all my clients, in creating a memorable paper experience.”

5. Do not offer up discounts, because you are new. You’ve already learned not to grossly undercharge because of your newness, also don’t automatically assume that clients will want a discount. As a planner, you can imagine how many times I’ve heard: “Well, the photographer is new so they gave me a great deal.” I cringe when I hear this. You don’t have to automatically discount just to get business. Have faith and confidence in yourself.

Happy Selling!

Do you believe?

My first “sales job” … lasted about three days. I was fresh out of college and didn’t want to get stuck in a cubicle so I showed up at high-energy interview with about 20 other people. It was easy to tell it was a giant pyramid scheme, however I got sucked into the excitement the trainers were selling.

The product? Knock-off perfumes. Not the real thing, but it smelled just like the real thing”. Except it didn’t. It smelled nothing like the real perfume.

Our trainers coached us to sell our friends and family first (how every good business plan should start–whatever). I tried, but couldn’t lie to them that this was great smelling stuff at a fraction of the cost. So I turned my sales strategy to strangers. The idea was to canvas as many people as possible to meet a minimum sales quota.

So a number of us went to a busy Los Angeles business district and cold-called on people. We would approach anyone and everyone. Someone was walking innocently to his car and my trainer accosted him to buy the smelly-perfume for his girlfriend. We were kicked out of numerous office buildings and laughed at my multiple pedestrians.

I had no problems approaching people, I’m an outgoing person. But I fumbled on my sales pitch. I couldn’t close the sale. I did not believe in the product and I sold = zero.

It occurred to me how important it is that you believe in what you are selling. True selling is fulfilling a need with a product or service. Not being slick and talking someone into buying something. And when you have belief and enthusiasm in your product or service, then it shines through crystal clear. Its even contagious.

How strong do you believe in your services or products? How strong to you believe in your ability or skills? I hope it is with unwavering and steadfast faith. Because your deep belief is what you project to your potential clients.

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