Wedding Industry Insider Podcast

WII 134 – Leah Weinberg on Contracts and Breaking Up With Clients

Your wedding planning business is taking off. You’re doing the work you love, grasping the business side of things, and finding some work/life balance. Then it all comes crashing down with one single client. 

If you haven’t had a problem client yet, you likely will encounter one soon. And it’s not that they are bad people, or even universally bad clients. They just aren’t a fit for how you do business. Now they’re bringing you down, giving you extra work, and chipping away at your profits. It’s time to break up with them. 

What is your exit plan?

On this week’s episode of Wedding Industry Insider, we’re talking with Leah Weinberg of the law firm Oduberg, which offers legal services for entrepreneurs in New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.

Leah is a real treasure for us because she is an experienced lawyer who also worked as a wedding planner for 10 years. So she’s able to give us practical advice for navigating contracts, dealing with difficult clients, and managing entrepreneurship. 

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Wedding Industry Biz

10 Questions to Ask to Qualify Your Potential Client Couples

You’re ready to get more clients, but how do you know which ones are right for you? 

Start by qualifying leads in order to figure out which couples will be the best fit. 

Remember, it’s necessary to resist the urge to take on every client that comes your way. 

Because if you want to grow your business and earn what you deserve, then you need to make sure you’re working with your ideal clients. 

So, when you’re on a discovery call or or at a first meeting, be sure to ask these 10 questions.

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Wedding Industry Insider Podcast

WII 094: Aleya Harris Explains How to Market Yourself as the Expert Guide in Your Client’s Story

Marketing your business isn’t easy. In fact, the hardest business to promote is your own. But to do it well, you need to be your client’s guide.

Aleya Harris, CPCE, is the owner of Flourish Marketing, an agency that helps wedding professionals get and keep a consistent stream of clients. Specifically, as a StoryBrand Certified Guide, she helps entrepreneurs produce results without choosing between profit and purpose.  

In recent years, NACE recognized her as the Emerging Member of the Year, and she received the President’s Award for Leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Presently, Aleya serves as the marketing committee chair for NACE National and is the founder and head of the NACE Black Caucus. 

She is also a WeddingPro Educator, an industry speaker, and the host of The Flourishing Entrepreneur podcast. 

In this episode, Aleya shares how StoryBrand’s 7-step (SB7) framework helps you convey a clear message so that clients understand the value of what you provide. Above all, she encourages you to market yourself as the guide in your client’s story.

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Wedding Industry Insider Podcast

WII 092: Renée Sabo Gives You 5 Steps to Effectively Position Your Business

If you’re currently booking jobs that don’t have the necessary budget or feel like the right fit, then you need to position your business to attract the clients you want.

Because the clients that resonate with you are out there, and they will find you when you’re concretely positioning your company.

So, be sure to use this 5 step process, and tune in to hear the full details!

Renée Sabo is the Founder and Owner of Urban Soirée, a full-service wedding planning and design company serving the East Coast and destinations worldwide. With over 12 years of industry experience, Renée launched Urban Soirée in 2017. Since then, she has been recognized as ILEA Boston’s Top Planner in 2019 and named as the Best of Boston 2020 – Best IRL Wedding Planner by Boston Magazine. Additionally, she’s earned WeddingWire’s Couples’ Choice Award for three consecutive years, and she is also the host of The Confetti Hour Podcast.

In this episode, Renée explains how to leverage the power of positioning your business so that you reach the right market and attract your ideal clients. Specifically, she shares her 5 step process so that you can get started right now.

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Wedding Industry Biz

How to Level Up Your Networking Strategy in 2022

As we start to find our groove again in 2022, it’s time to put networking back on the forefront of our small businesses. While we may have gotten comfortable pairing nice jewelry with our finest pajama pants for the next Zoom event, it’s safe to say that most event professionals are ready and raring to get back to in-person opportunities.

So, if you’ve missed the social setting and are ready to get back to mixing and mingling, use these techniques to make networking a top priority in 2022.

Set Clear Goals

If you don’t view networking as a way to achieve your business goals, it will always feel like a backup plan to “more important” tasks. It’s true — there will always be another client deliverable to send, another lead magnet to write, and another email to answer.

Yet, by setting goals for your networking efforts, you are effectively saying: “This is important to me and my business.” Such a mindset will help you shut down your computer on time, get ready, and head off to build new relationships.

Consider what you hope to get out of networking and how it fits into your big picture. Are you looking for potential hires to bring into your business? Do you have a collaborative idea sitting on ice until you find the perfect partner? Are you trying to increase your referral business? Networking can accomplish all of these goals, but your intention will determine the type of event you attend and how you approach it.

Build Your Strategy

You know the “why” — now, you need to map out the “how.” Write your goal down and start brainstorming the steps you can take to reach it.

For example, if you’re looking to find new team members, you may need to bring a few copies of the job description with you. You’d also need to set your sights on networking events that attract younger folks who are still in the early stages of their careers.

Your strategy should define the types of networking events you need to attend, the icebreakers you bring to introduce yourself, and the elevator pitches you use to tell your story. How you approach a seasoned planner with three businesses would likely look different than the newly-hired catering manager of your favorite venue.

Revisit How You Present Who You Are

If it’s been a while since you’ve dusted off that side of your closet, take a moment to pull out our networking duds and give them a run-through. Do they still fit? Has your style changed? Do you need to repair your go-to shoes?

Effective networking is rooted in your confidence and it’s hard to be your best if your attire makes you feel otherwise. The last thing you want is to find out your favorite dress’ hem has frayed, just hours before you’re supposed to attend an event.

Discard (or store) anything that doesn’t make you feel like a rockstar — because that’s the type of energy you need to bring! If desired, treat yourself to a few new statement pieces to freshen up your wardrobe and step into your next networking event feeling like a million bucks.

Ease Back Into It

Feeling rusty when it comes to talking about your business? You’re not alone. Recognize that most of the people you see will be in a similar boat, wondering how they were able to float around a room with such ease before virtual events took over.

If networking is giving you stage fright, do what you need to do to ease into it. You don’t need to go back at 100 miles per hour (unless that’s your rhythm!). Start with small group settings with your local chamber or association chapter. Memorize a few opening lines. Practice in the mirror before you leave to mitigate the nerves.

Don’t worry — it won’t take long before your networking muscles are firm and toned again! Give yourself grace as you step out of your comfort zone and do what’s best for your business. You’ll be running the national conference circuit before you know it!

 

Jennifer Taylor is the principal of Jen Taylor Consulting, a consulting firm that works with creative businesses of all sizes to implement streamlined workflows and organized systems to find more time and space for business growth and personal development.

Wedding Industry Insider Podcast

WII 088: Lynne Reznick Brings the Heart of an Educator to Crafting the Client Experience

When we think of weddings, we often think first of the wedding planner. Yet we know that many other vendors likewise contribute to the smooth production of a wedding. In this respect, collaboration is not only key to overall success but also reveals insight from other industry professionals. For example, another person who plays a critical role in how a couple will experience their wedding is the photographer.

And the vantage point of an experienced photographer – regarding what helps planners succeed and best supports couples – is exactly what we’re exploring today.

So, be sure to tune in for this podcast episode!

Lynne Reznick is the owner of Lynne Reznick Photography, a wedding photography company serving couples across New England and Upstate New York. As a former high school history teacher, Lynne draws on her educator’s heart and love of photography as she captures each couple’s unique story.  In addition to launching an online course for wedding professionals, she is a featured speaker at Wedding MBA. Her work has also been showcased in numerous publications, including Rangefinder, The Knot, and Amber & Muse

In this episode, Lynne talks about the way that she uses education to serve couples and to cultivate better client experiences.

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Wedding Industry Insider Podcast

WII 084: Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck On the Driving Force of Hospitality

For this planning-duo couple, a background in hospitality reinforced deeply held beliefs in the value of service and of kindness. In fact, it led to developing the confidence that allowed them to make critical decisions for their company that ultimately paid off.

Want to hear how you can apply these principles to your own wedding planning business?

Be sure to tune in to this podcast episode!

Alison Laesser-Keck and Bryan Keck are the owners of Alison Bryan Destinations, a high-end wedding planning company. Alison serves as Event Producer & Creative Director while Bryan manages operations as Director of Events & Travel. In addition to their extensive hospitality experience, they have produced weddings globally since 2008. For their work, Alison Bryan Destinations is named one of the best wedding planners in the world by Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, BRIDES, and Over The Moon.

In this episode, Alison and Bryan share the way that they approach wedding planning from a place of being all-in. Specifically, they address the way that serving others and treating everyone with kindness leads to choosing couples who trust them to take the risks that create an elevated experience. Above all, they share why hospitality is their driving force. 

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Wedding Industry Biz

The Value of Using Digital Storage Options to Capture Event Memories

Easily Commemorate Every Wedding

As a planner, one of the most important elements of helping couples is making sure that everything from their Wedding Day gets commemorated. After all, they are going to want to look back on the memories of their special day and even share it with their family and friends.

This generally means two things. First, you help them with hiring an amazing photographer to capture all of the day’s beautiful photos. Secondly, you help them with hiring a phenomenal videographer so all of the day’s moments are always remembered.

But there’s another emotional component of the wedding that oftentimes gets forgotten when it comes to commemorating them forever… and that’s the cards that are received from all of the guests. Many of these cards include personal and sentimental messages from family and friends, but what does the couple do with these cards? Do they get stored in a shoebox? A drawer? A folder? In an era of never-ending new technology, isn’t there a way to save these digitally?

Well, now there is, and it’s E-Bration! Based on our own wedding experience, we created this perfect digital solution!

E-Bration is an online platform that saves the memories of every card and message collected from important life event celebrations.

And when it comes to important celebrations, weddings are right at the top of the list!

Why it Helps to Offer Your Clients Digital Solutions

So, how can E-Bration help you and your clients? There are two ways that you can offer couples this digital card storage solution.

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Wedding Industry Biz

How to Effectively Turn Inquiries into Profit-Generating Bookings

When we talk about sales strategies, we tend to think about the tactics that will win over a client on the other side of a sales meeting or call. But let’s not lose sight of the first step in a successful sales funnel: the inquiry response. Without a compelling inquiry strategy, you will not even get those meetings on the books. Every booked client starts in your inbox (or DMs these days!).

If you’re receiving plenty of inquiries, it’s a good sign that your marketing efforts are successful. Your website, social media, and emails drive people to fill out your contact form or write you directly to inquire about available dates, pricing, and more.

However, if you’re losing them there, it’s likely your responses aren’t measuring up to those of your competitors. Remember: the average person isn’t sending out one inquiry just to you. They are sending the same thing to everyone else in your vendor category, particularly those on the first page of Google. They don’t know anything about you beyond what’s on your website, but the same goes for your competitors. To a new prospect, you are a commodity—just one of a bunch.

But, when you wow them with an informative and personable response to their inquiry, they will start to form a relationship with you in their head. Suddenly, you’re the one who loves their venue, the one with the cool signature, or the one who attached helpful PDFs they immediately saved to their desktop. You are not the one who sent a templated email with no enthusiasm.

The bottom line: a great reply will earn you the valuable opportunity to get them on the phone, but that begs the question: what does the winning response look like?

It’s Prompt

Nowadays, the average person’s attention span is mere seconds, so you need to be on top of your inquiries. That doesn’t mean you need to be vigilantly monitoring everything so that you can respond within seconds. But it does mean that you need to be one of the first (if not the first) person to answer their email. Otherwise, they’ll forget about you and consider those who graced them with a reply.

The reality is that 24 hours is far too long to keep a prospect waiting. Your competitors aren’t waiting that long, so you can’t either. Aim for a two-hour grace period within business hours and, for inquiries that come in overnight, make it your first priority in the morning to answer them.

If you need more time to provide them with what they need, reply to let them know you’re working on it and give them an ETA. Creating that very first touch point is more important than checking off all of the boxes right away.

It’s Consistent

A consistent brand experience is crucial in sales. Otherwise, your messaging will vary depending on the day you’ve had, and your leads will be left wondering where they fit into the picture. By keeping your tone and message steady, you put your client at the center of the relationship, allowing their needs and preferences to dictate the flow of conversation.

Fortunately, email templates and automated responders can help you stay consistent in all of your inquiries. (Bonus: It also enables you to keep in that two-hour window!) There are a few ways to streamline your inquiries—you can rely on customizable templates from past emails, you can use out-of-office responders, or you can create an email sequence in a platform like ConvertKit or Mailchimp.

The benefit of the latter two is that you don’t actually have to hit send, although you should certainly follow up with a personal email.

Regardless of your chosen method, make sure that your emails still capture the energy and personality of your brand. You don’t have to sacrifice authenticity for automation!

It’s Engaging

Events are exhilarating and vibrant. People don’t want to hire event pros that seem bored and indifferent by the prospect of working on their celebration. You need to match their enthusiasm in your email responses!

Share their excitement by asking them questions and putting out a few ideas to show your brain is already dreaming up the possibilities. If it’s a wedding inquiry, ask them how they met or what the proposal was like! If it’s a corporate inquiry, ask about their mission and how they envision their brand in the world! Help them visualize what you can do for them.

Prospective clients tend to ask a lot of questions about you, your business, and your offerings. Of course, you should answer them, but you should also turn the script back to them. Give them a reason to respond and answer your questions! When you show them you’re interested; the feeling becomes mutual.

Of course, you still need to practice your in-person selling. You need to know how to sell your benefits, overcome client objections, and close a sale. But, before you can do any of that, you have to know how to respond to an inquiry so you can get that chance in the first place.

 

Jennifer Taylor is the principal of Jen Taylor Consulting, a consulting firm that works with creative businesses of all sizes to implement streamlined workflows and organized systems to find more time and space for business growth and personal development.