This article was written and shared with permission, by our talented and inspiring wedding industry friend, speaker and marketing guru, Alan Berg, CSP
I was giving a presentation recently and I used the phrase “Invest in yourself if you want others to invest in you”. In that case I was referring to your websites, branding, collateral marketing (business cards, brochures, etc.) and to your sales skills. Before you can expect your target clientele to invest their hard-earned money with you, especially for their once-in-a-lifetime wedding, you have to invest your time and money into earning their business.
Too often I meet someone who’s complaining that they’re not getting the clientele they’d like (usually one that will spend more for their services). However, that same company usually isn’t doing the things they need to attract, sell and service that same clientele. You see other businesses getting the clients you want, but what you don’t usually see are the behind the scenes things that got them where they are.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers”, he speaks about a threshold of 10,000 hours that separates the more proficient and successful people from the rest. Whether it’s Bill Gates having 10,000 hours of computer programming time before he started Microsoft, or Yo-Yo Ma playing and practicing the cello more than 10,000 hours, the common thread is that opportunity comes when talent and opportunity collide. Of course Yo-Yo Ma has more talent than most cellists, but there are others who will never realize their potential because they’re not willing to put in the time.
Step 1: Identify the problem
I was writing this on a recent flight and it got a little longer than my regular articles, so, in this article I’m going to shine a light on the problem. Then, in my next article I’ll give you specifics and ideas on how you can choose to solve the problem you see. Let me give you the synopsis here.
- Investing in yourself involves time and/or money. There are no free rides. When you see another business with a better website, better branding, or better sales skills, they’ve taken steps to get there. Just as you work to improve your technical skills, you need to improve your business skills.
- What’s the first impression you’re trying to make? You can tell when someone has made their own website or designed their own business cards, postcards, etc. Others can tell when you do the same.
- You never know from where you’re next inspiration will come. Opening your eyes to ideas outside your industry can spark ideas that you can adapt to what you do. If you only ever listen to the same voices you’ll only hear the same things. That’s why I love listening and reading about ideas that are outside my current skill set.
- They can’t hire you if they don’t know you exist. Investing in better ad placement and bridal show booth size and placement often gets you a better return on your investment. You still need a great ad or booth design, and then sales and marketing to take the next steps, but those, too, are investments.
- Networking is first about showing up. Showing up sporadically to networking events, with a handful of business cards isn’t going to get you a flood of referrals. People refer people they know and trust.
- You can’t reap the benefits if you don’t first make the investment. Did I say there are no free rides? It’s worth repeating.
What we can learn from a DIY wedding
I’ve rarely met a wedding or event professional who likes the idea of engaged couples doing some of their wedding services themselves (or having friends or relatives do them). Those are usually referred to as the DIY (do-it-yourself) bride or groom. It’s not an entirely accurate phrase as they’re not doing everything themselves, only parts of their wedding. For some it’s the invitations or decorations, while for others it’s the music, photography, video or planning.
Wedding and event pros view those DIY couples as taking business away from them, but the truth is that if they don’t have the money, or more importantly they don’t see the value in hiring you, they’re not your customer and they never were. But I’m getting a little off topic here.
The reason you want them to hire you is because you’re the expert. You’re the one who has invested the time, money and effort to learn your service and earn the right to charge for the value you provide. If you agree with my assertion then you should also agree that it’s somewhat hypocritical to think that you can do many of the professional services your business needs better than a professional.
What are you really good at?
Do you have a degree in graphic design? Have you studied website creation and maintenance? Are you a sales and marketing expert? Some of you will answer yes to one or more of those questions, but you’ll be in the minority. Chances are you got into your business because you are skilled at something other than business, or website design, or marketing. Being a fantastic chef doesn’t qualify you to design a great business card. Being an award-winning photographer, videographer, band or DJ doesn’t qualify you to make an effective website.
The smart businesses hire to their weaknesses.
If you surround yourself with people who are good at what you’re good at, you’re just amplifying your weaknesses. Having more wedding officiants on your team won’t help you unless you are already overwhelmed with leads that you have the skills to close. Hiring more floral decorators won’t help you unless you have more work that your current designers can handle. For most wedding and event pros your inventory is time. You can only do so many weddings or events at one time. For others it’s a combination of time and physical assets. If you’re a venue, you have a limited number of rooms. If you’re a DJ you have a limited number of equipment setups.
Which came first?
If you want to expand the number of weddings or events you do, where do you start? Do you first hire more DJ’s and buy more equipment? Or, do you first invest in the infrastructure to market, sell and service those additional weddings and events? You’re going to have to do both, eventually, but especially given the longer lead time for a wedding, I would first invest in a better website, then better marketing, advertising and branding, and then, when you see that it’s working the way you want, buy more equipment and hire more people.
Go big, or go home
When I started my speaking and consulting business I bought a new iPad. The Apple website said they would engrave something on it at no extra charge. I thought for a while about it, pondering over whether to put my name or company (too hard to sell or give away later), or some other phrase. Then, it came to me. Big things come to those who think big, so I had them engrave “Go big, or go home” on the back. Practice what you preach. Don’t just talk about being the best. Back it up by taking steps to get there.
Don’t expect immediate results
There are very few switches you can flip to get instant results. That’s tough-love for a society that treasures instant gratification. You can’t make a great website in a day. You can’t learn a new skill in a day. Buying better online ad placement might help you get more clicks to your website right away, but if you haven’t already improved your website, you’ll be wasting those impressions. Don’t be discouraged. Decide what you want and then make a roadmap to get there.
It’s not for me to say what’s right for you. I help my clients achieve their goals, just as you help yours have their vision of their perfect wedding. Thanks for taking your time towards being the best you that you can be. In my next article I’ll delve a little deeper into some of the things you can do, to invest your time and/or money, to move your business in whatever direction you’d like.