competition

… play nice wedding vendors!

Have you seen this blog post from my fabulous friend, Sasha Souza on her Sparkliatti blog? A new wedding planner pretends to be a potential “new bride”. Hmph.

Just in case you think I was exaggerating in my last post. There is no need for this type of actions, my sweet friends. Let’s play nice and not waste each other’s time.

happy selling!

don’t approach other vendors like this…

When starting out with your new business, there is a never ending stream of questions that have to be answered. Believe me, it doesn’t get easier as you move forward.

I’m sure that anyone who has been in business for more than a few years has received an email simliar to this one (please take a moment to read):

Um, where do I begin with this.

I suppose the planner that received this “inquisition” should be grateful that she was NOT contacted by a local aspiring wedding planner. While it was suppose to be “general ideas”, I counted 15 specific questions.

Receiving an email like this is similar to someone walking into your home, seeing your children and saying, “My gosh your children are so beautiful. Do you mind if I take one of them?”. Building a business and growing one is very similar and personal to raising a child.

What deeply concerns me is when I see new business people acting lazy and not putting any effort into learning the art of starting a business for themselves. Would you contact people that you have never met before and ask for money? The earned business knowledge and the time it would take to truly answer all these questions, is worth a dollar figure. I get it. This industry looks so easy and glamorous. Everyone wants to be a photographer, planner, baker, DJ, etc.

TEACHING MOMENT: A better approach would be to FIRST try to build a relationship with another business person that you respect and may have more experience than you. Let this relationship grow organically till you both have trust. THEN you can ask a few questions and MUTUALLY share information and ideas. You must have something to share with others, even if you are new to the industry.

There really is no excuse to send out emails like this. You have so much opportunity at your finger tips! Facebook, Twitter, online groups, conferences, workshops and more! So it is simply ridiculous not to take advantage of these opportunities. But you need to work for it!

I’ve asked for help and have shared information (just yesterday morning I sent a copy of my corporate agreement to another planner who I have not met in person, but have forged a relationship online for several years. We’ve even exchanged Christmas cards last year). My BFF, Jennifer Ramirez-Jasiczek who lives in Texas, shared a lot of her information when we “first met” online 9 years ago. But trust me, we first built a relationship. It’s an investment worth having.

Emails like this, however, will close the door. Forever.

Your thoughts or experiences with this? 

ps It also sucks to ask for comprehensive notes from another vendor who invested in attending an expensive conference. They shell out the $3k and you ask them for all their information. What are you giving in return?

pss Thanks to Elisa Delgardio with A Flair for Affairs for sharing this email with us.

happy selling!

NOW… at&t loves me and my iphone…

 

True Story:

We’ve been Cingular customers since 1998. Of course we all know that they were bought out by AT&T a few years ago and since then the customer service is shaky sometimes. I am NOT a fan of “monopolies” when one company has our business advertising, our land lines, and our cell phones; I think customer service wavers a bit.

Hence the one time it took me 8 months, numerous hours on the phone, speaking to so many customer service representatives across the entire country, that I lost count;  to resolve a $352 credit that was due to us. But I did it. And the drinks were ON ME that evening.

Get to the Point:

Alright, ALRIGHT!

Everyone knows that Verizon announced they can sell the iPhone 4 early this February. After that announcement (in fact only 12 hours after), I had to call AT&T on an unrelated customer service issue.

The love fest on the telephone from the customer service rep was unbelievable and left me feeling a little nauseous.

I was told REPEATEDLY:

“Thank you so much for your business”
“Thank you for your patronage and as an iPhone customer
“We value your business and thank you again, for being an AT&T customer”

Wow.

I mean it’s not like every time I call they are rude, but this guy was OVER the TOP. And, pointedly singled out the fact I was an “iPhone customer” again and again.

Hmmmmmm. Feeling the heat a little AT&T?

Our Business:

So do you (and me) wait until we feel the heat to reciprocate to our clients and be grateful? Do we wait for a competitor to come into the market to stir it up or are we continuing to build client relations and loyalty?

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Trust me… this was an “aha moment” for me as well. I love to sell. I love to plan. But the extra touches for client relations sometimes can lost in the daily grind.

Time to step up our game!

Happy Selling!

On the Eighth Day of Selling…

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

VENDORS

This is a great time of year to send out a personal note of gratitude and simply make contact to vendors that you have worked with over the past year.

It’s more than just about gifts, it’s personal contact. And let’s face it. While we all have our clients (the bride and groom who pay our bills) our other clients are mutual vendors. We have to work together again.

Reach out and make a connection. This is not the time to ask for referrals, it’s a soft, marketing touch. There is nothing wrong with sending out a new pricing list or info about new services you may offer. But be sure it’s just to update.

It’s a time to celebrate and smile together since we have worked hard all year. And the best thing, you are now at the Top of Their Mind when a newly engaged, potential client comes along.

Happy Selling!

photo: Third Generation Photography. At a photobooth with photographer and assistant photographer.

Don’t FRET about what other vendors CHARGE

My blog post yesterday created a stir. It’s a problem that I hear about at every convention, gchat, tweet, telephone conversation and personal emails from other vendors. With a down economy and the high rate of people losing their jobs, it is natural to see an influx of newcomers in EVERY industry, and that includes the event & wedding industry.

I say they are mostly newcomers because I don’t find the veteran vendors charging mere hundreds for many hours of service. They know they cannot sustain nor make a living as a self-employed business person. With that said, I understand that we are not all “luxury, service providers”. My business does not cater nor market to, the “luxury bride”. Frankly, I think that term is overused and should be rolled up and put away, for good.

So, do not fret. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:

  1. Quit worrying. Look if they are grossly (which is the word I used) undercharging their services, they won’t be around long. It’s non-sustainable and they will fizz/burn out. Also, and more importantly, the clients that hire a $500 photographer, would not of hired you anyway. They don’t see the value, they see a very low price point.
  2. Educate them. Some newcomers to this industry may turn out to be stellar players at a later date. That’s right! We all started somewhere. But they may not KNOW how to go about it. So call them, send them to iWed.org or let them know about an industry event coming up. They may just need some education.
  3. You are NOT competing. If you have been in business for many years, you are not in competition with these new players. You have a different clientele and a different market share. Does it muck up and devalue the industry standards? Yes, a bit. But it’s okay, it will all shake out in the end. Worry about what makes you unique and finding your client that appreciates and values your services.
  4. Understand your value. It’s time to stop and re-address what makes your services so great and why you can charge what you do. Take inventory, write down the key points of what makes you unique (and saying you’ve been in business for 10 years is not enough nor makes you unique). Once you have done this exercise, it will make it clearer and easier for you to explain your value, worth and expertise to your potential clients.

Happy Selling!

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