Producing with Short Turnaround Times

As event professionals, we aren’t always fortunate enough to have months of lead time to plan for an event. From funerals to luncheons and birthday parties to rehearsal dinners, we’re sometimes expected to throw together a successful event in a matter of weeks — or days, even.

With the right systems in place, you don’t need to turn away business simply because a prospect is requesting a short turnaround time.

Personally, there has never been a time frame that has caused me to say no. I will always do what I can — we’ve had people give us a day’s notice, and we’ll make it happen. I’ve even sourced 250 toads (yes, toads!) for a last-minute funeral request. Our clients have a vision, and we must achieve it the best we can, given our parameters. 

However, there are some factors to consider when agreeing to an event with a short time frame. After all, you need to protect your business and your employees first.

1. Set limitations.

When there’s a tight turnaround for an event, there’s no doubt that we can make something happen. However, there are limits to our capabilities based on the time frame, and our clients must be aware of that.

 

For example, there are time constraints when it comes to sourcing seasonal flowers and rentals, so we generally have to get our products local. We may not be able to get those colorful tropical flowers by tomorrow, but we will do what we can with what we have to convey the same message. Likewise, the perfect farmhouse table from four states away may not be doable — but we’ll find the next best thing that’s in town.

2. Charge accordingly.

Rush events take time away from your other projects and can cause quite a bit of stress, so don’t be afraid to tack those impacts onto the bill. We always upcharge for last-minute requests because, at that point, we are working overtime to make something happen.

We go out of our way to source resources and hire additional staff in a short amount of time, so there needs to be some compensation. Communicate this extra cost upfront so your client understands the amount of effort that will go into their event. Then, track your hours and expenses and make sure that you are still making a profit at the end of the day.

3. Create a streamlined process.

You will be far more prepared for a last-minute request if you already have a system that runs like clockwork. Most importantly, you must have reliable vendors that you trust will follow through with every little request. Your team must be willing to work with you to achieve a client’s vision, no matter the time frame.

You also need to be sure that your company has the proper amount of resources to execute a rush event — that goes for equipment, assets, and human resources. As long as you have the necessities available, all you need to do is create streamlined processes to produce things like contracts, CAD files, and other documents. The whole idea is to simplify your workflow, so you don’t need to put extra thought and effort into the planning process.

4. Ensure your contract is ironclad.

You need a solid contract to protect you, your team, and your company. Whether a client is refusing to pay or demanding for a design overhaul on event day, your contract will be there to back you up. Before you begin any work, each client must sign off on your terms and agree to everything outlined in your contract.

If you haven’t already, take your contract to your lawyer or another trusted legal professional who can review and revise as needed. Let them know your concerns about specific situations (like last-minute requests, for example) and discuss how to best handle that from a legal perspective. A contract doesn’t mean you can’t bend when you want to — it just safeguards you when you cannot.

When it comes down to it, the key to successfully executing an event in a short time frame is preparation. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Don’t wait until the client is knocking on your door with a next-day birthday party. Have the plan in place so that you’re ready to hit the ground running when that does happen. Then, you’ll never have to turn away the last-minute business again.

Oleta Collins is the owner of Flourishing Art Design Studio, a premier florist and design studio in Bakersfield, California, that specializes in luxury weddings and events. She is also a Certified Floral Designer and an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers.


Comment

Guest Contributor

WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


Follow

7 Ways to Get People to Like You

If people don’t like us, then we are doing something very wrong. I’ve come to learn that people either love me or hate me; there is no in-between. Part of life is knowing that there is always going to be something you can improve on. Now, in sales, you need people to like you — here are seven ways for you to do just that.

 

1. Mirroring

This is something we do both consciously and subconsciously. We mimic the body language, posture, expression, or even communication methods of the person we are talking to. It allows us to find new ways to relate to them and connect on a deeper level — in fact, there are even neurons in our brains dedicated to helping us with this.

A client will almost instantly make their mind up as to whether they like or dislike you, and a lot of this can depend on the way you are expressing yourself through body language. Not to mention that the vibes they are sending to you often get thrown back at them without you even thinking. Thus, you need to be the one leading the charge; have them mirror you.

 

2. Body Language

This is so important, especially as 70 percent of our communication is done through it. That’s a huge number, right? As a salesperson, you need to be mindful of your body language, but also of your customer’s. If they are in an unfavorable position, it likely means that they don’t like what you are talking about and you need to change the conversation. Move onto something that they are interested in, and watch to see their body language adapt.

You have to be quick on your feet with this, as it can be easy to miss and forget to read the non-verbal cues. Remember that there can be subtle differences in the body language displayed by men and women, so a little extra research won’t go amiss.

If your body language screams insecurity and a lack of confidence, people will not have faith in you, and you will lose the job. Never keep your hands behind your back, as it’s dismissive; instead, use them to emphasize points and throw in some extra passion. Let the customer know that you are confident in yourself and your products.

Here are a few quick body language pointers to give you a head start:

  • Crossed arms are a sign of discomfort. The same goes for leaning away from you.

  • Leaning back with arms and legs spread wide is a sign of comfort, but it can also be a dominant and territorial display during serious discussions.

  • Placing your hands on a surface either side of you is a sign of confidence and authority.

  • Placing your hands on your hips with your legs spread shows that you are ready for action.

  • Hands resting together with the fingertips touching tends to suggest confidence and power.

  • Fiddling with hair, jewelry, or anything, is a sign of discomfort, doubt, and insecurity.

  • Bobbing a crossed leg up and down while sitting tends to show discomfort.

  • Pointing a foot upwards while talking is usually a good sign.

There are loads of other examples of body language, but these are the basics that you absolutely need to remember.

 

3. Positive Energy

If you aren’t positive, then you are going to lose work — it’s as simple as that. Take a deep breath, stand up tall, and get straight into the pitch with good thoughts for the process and outcome. Tell yourself you have the job before you even start, and the client will notice your confidence.

It links with body language because you need to further express that confidence with it. You could be an expert in your field, but no one will notice if you are carrying yourself incorrectly. Be passionate, be positive, and really show the customer what you’re made of.

 

4. Humor

People like it when the person they are talking to feels human. We all make jokes, and I am a master of throwing them into my pitches and seminars. Let people know who you are and don’t be afraid to show off that sense of humor. Of course, keep things tame, but you need to let customers relate to you.

 

5. Vulnerability

This is something that people love, so you need to be willing to be an open book. Being vulnerable is the act of willingly showing up, even with no guarantees. Vulnerability is a human trait that we all seem to respond to, and your potential customers are no different. Putting yourself out there, even when there is nothing to gain, is a great way to display just how motivated and devoted you are.

 

6. Mindset 

Your mindset is so important — I can’t emphasize this enough. If you’re saying that you can’t do something or if you give up easily, this needs to change. Success truly is a matter of mindset. If you have a negative outlook, you are far less likely to succeed.

You need to be looking for opportunities and approaching them with positivity. Act as though you have the job before you’ve even pitched. A proper mindset will be noticed by a customer, just as a poor one will. Sales aren’t just about technique; it is also about your confidence and the way you see yourself in business.

 

7. Commonality

This is all about finding something you and your customer share. It’s not always easy, but the best way to do it is with a good old-fashioned research session. Look them up on social media, visit their website, and find out everything you can to relate to them better. Doing your homework looks good on you. It shows that you care, but it also means you have gone the extra mile to impress buyers and let them know they are worth your time.

Getting people to like you isn’t as easy as clicking your fingers. You must put in effort. By following these seven simple steps, you will be well on your way to becoming better liked, and even more confident. Just watch those new clients roll in. 

With 30 years of experience owning event planning, high-end catering, and design and décor companies, Meryl Snow is on a mission to help businesses get on their own path to success. As a Senior Consultant & Sales Trainer for SnowStorm Solutions, Meryl travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design, and branding. She speaks with groups from the heart with warmth and knowledge, and covers the funny side of life and business.

Comment

Guest Contributor

WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


Follow

Your SEO Strategy to be a Rockstar on Google in 2019

The start of a new year is always a great time to take a look at your marketing for your wedding business and decide where to invest.  If showing up higher on Google searches is on your must-do marketing list for 2019, it’s time to develop your strategy.

Search engine optimization can be a technical and overwhelming subject. If you’ve ever thought “I need to do some SEO” and then got lost in where to start, I get it.  Below is a basic SEO plan that you can follow step-by-step to improve your rankings in 2019.

Step 1: Understand Where You Rank Now

Any good strategy should start with an understanding of where you are now.  If you’re not sure what keywords your website ranks for as of today, I recommend signing up for a Moz account (it’s free) and using their Keyword Explorer tool.

In the Keyword Explorer, change the search setting to “root domain.”  Then, enter your domain name in the search box.

Moz-SEO.png

What you’ll see in the results is your Site Overview, including the number of keywords ranked.  Make sure to click the link to “See all ranking keywords” to see the top 50 keywords your site is ranked for.

Moz-SEO-2.png

Look through the keyword list to see which keywords you’d like to rank higher for and make note of them.  You can also save the results by exporting them so you can compare to your rankings a few months from now.

Step 2: Make a List of Keywords You’d Like to Rank For

To start better optimizing your site and ranking in search results, you now need to brainstorm a list of keywords that are relevant to your website and business. These are the keywords you’d like to show up for when they’re searched on Google.

Here are a few places to look for keyword inspiration:

●     The Moz keyword list you just generated

●     Run a high-ranking competitor’s website through the Moz Keyword Explorer and see what they rank for

●     Your own website—look for phrases you use and possible keywords in the descriptions of your own services and projects

●     Try searching on Google for a few of the keywords on your list.  See what Google suggests as you type, and what it lists as “related searches” at the bottom of the search results.

●     Look at what words customers use when they write reviews about your product or service

Once you have a big list of keywords, highlight or circle which ones are most important to you.

Step 3: Decide Which Page on Your Website Will Target Which Keyword

This is the step I see missed most often in articles about SEO.  They may tell you to “use your keywords,” but that might tempt you just to sprinkle the same keywords throughout your website. Instead, I highly recommend choosing one page on your website that you want to optimize really well for each keyword you chose.

Google is looking for the pages(not entire websites) on the Internet that are most relevant and helpful for a specific search.  Make it clear which page on your site is the best result by optimizing it well for your keyword.  That means you’re not just using the keyword “wedding planner” as much as possible throughout your site, but that you are optimizing one page really well for “wedding planning services.”

A few examples:

  • Optimize your “Wedding Coordination” service page for “wedding coordinator in Austin, TX”

  • Optimize your home page for “Asheville wedding venue”

  • Optimize your “Average cost of a Baltimore wedding photographer” blog post for “cost of a Baltimore wedding photographer”

Step 4: Make a Content Plan

I know that making time to do the work for SEO is the hardest part.  For your new year plan, commit a set weekly time to work on your content.  This may mean editing old content to optimize it or writing new content to target keywords. Plan out the work you want to do and give yourself due dates.

Here is the content calendar spreadsheet I use to stay organized in content creation. You might want to create one of these too! 

Content-Calendar-SEO.png

As you’re writing your content, I recommend following these best practices for on-page content optimization.

Step 5: Watch Your Results

Put your head down, stop searching for yourself, and work on your website content for a few months.  Keep in mind that it takes Google time to recognize the changes you’re making to improve the content on your website.  After about 3 months, check out a few metrics to see how you’re doing.

  • Run your website through Moz Keyword Explorer again.  Are you ranking for more keywords? Are you ranking higher?

  • Review your Google Analytics.  Are you getting more website visitors? Keep an eye on Organic Search traffic over time.

Make note of any pages or posts that are performing well and see if you can create more content around similar topics.  

Not seeing the results you want?  SEO is an ongoing process of website and content improvement, so don’t give up!  Keep generating keyword ideas, adding to your content plan, creating helpful content your target clients would love to find, and monitoring your improvements and increased traffic.

Sara Dunn is a wedding SEO consultant at SaraDoesSEO.com, helping wedding planners, photographers, venues, florists, and more reach rockstar status on Google.

5 Comments

Guest Contributor

WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


Follow

Your PR To-Dos for 2017

By Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

If you didn’t quite meet your 2016 resolution of taking your public relations efforts seriously, you’re not alone. However, there’s no reason to shy away from it – especially throughout the off-season.

Here are a few of my best tips for making 2017 your most press-friendly year yet.

Map out the year ahead

At this point, you should have a good idea of the weddings that lie ahead. With the styles in mind, think about which will be the most competitive for editorial submission. Those with unique details, special stories and great couples are typically those that are great, so take some time to plan out your PR approach for each.

Gather what you can in advance for each wedding – a comprehensive vendor list (with website URLs and social media handles!), a submission agreement with the photographer, and anecdotes from the couple about how they met and what influenced their wedding planning. This will make the submission process much smoother when you’re in the throes of peak season!

Create a media list

Think back to when you were a kid and wrote wish lists of everything you wanted for the holidays. Now is your chance to do the same, but for your dream media portfolio. What publications would you just love to feature your work? Where would you like to see your name in lights? Don’t be shy – include any and all outlets that you like, even if they seem like a reach.

Once you’ve compiled a nice list, begin your research on submission guidelines and media contacts to keep on file. Every publication has different requirements for their real weddings, so you’ll need to be discerning with your submissions. A neat Excel spreadsheet or Google Doc can keep all of your research in one place so it’s easy to grab when you’re ready to submit.

Streamline your PR flow

One of the main reasons wedding professionals don’t invest in public relations is because they think it will take up too much of their valuable time. This notion can be easily combatted with apps and programs to streamline your PR push. Does it seem tedious to interview each and every couple for their story? Save time by crafting a Wufoo questionnaire and sending the link to all of your couples. Do you have trouble staying organized in your submissions? Consider signing up for Two Bright Lights, an online platform that keeps your wedding albums in one place and allows you to submit directly to a large number of online and print publications.

Sign up for programs

Looking beyond real wedding submissions, it’s time to start sharing your knowledge. One great way to do this is to be an expert source for journalists – that way, you’ll be included in articles speaking about your specialty. HARO and SourceBottle are two great tools to help you become a source for reporters to reach out. Once you sign up, you’ll begin receiving emails with story topics from journalists – when you see one that interests you, all you have to do is email your thoughts over for consideration.

Whether you start with signing up for HARO or mapping out your upcoming weddings, be sure you’re setting aside some time in the next few weeks to really plan out your PR strategy – your portfolio will thank you! 

Meghan Ely is the owner of OFD Consulting, a wedding PR agency that works with wedding professionals here, there and everywhere. She’s a long-time industry writer, sought after speaker and unapologetic cat lady.

Comment

Guest Contributor

WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


Follow

How to Evaluate the Return of your Wholesale Partnership

By Audrey Isaac, 100Candles.com

The end of the year is a time for reflection and evaluation as we look at our year’s accomplishments and determine what worked and what should evolve.

As you plan for the year ahead, it’s important to review your annual numbers and take a hard look at the return of your investments. From your project management software to your wholesale partnerships, it’s time to evaluate your ROI and make adjustments accordingly.

First and foremost, let’s look at how you can determine whether you are seeing a positive return from your wholesale partnership.

When you are looking to build in additional revenue streams, it comes down to dollars and cents – as well as happy customers. You’ll need to take a look at both sides: Are you seeing an increase in the amount your couples are spending with you? (Note that this should be simple, as you should already be tracking your revenue per account.) Have your reviews continued to be positive? Consider surveying your recent clients at the end of the year to ensure that your business model meets all of their needs – not just for wholesale-related upgrades, but for your general services as well.

So, what is a wedding pro to do if their ROI isn’t quite as successful as expected?

You’ll first need to determine why the numbers aren’t matching up as planned. Connect with your wholesalers to ask about some of their most popular items. They should be able to share what items are selling well in other markets, as well as online.

If the product itself isn’t the issue, then it may be time to look at your sales process. Assess your methods of upselling, as well as when you try to upsell in the course of your work together. It may be time to switch things up and test the waters with different methods – perhaps later in the sales process or through a different presentation entirely.

Ask yourself: How do you present your items for upselling? Do you share them virtually, in person or both? Can you realistically switch it up to see if it results in a higher conversion rate? Are you selling too early in the process, before clients are ready to commit more of their budget? Alternately, are you selling too late in the process, after they’ve already made their own purchases?

The answers to these questions will help guide your future decisions in the business of upselling. Consider reaching out to recent and current couples and asking for their thoughts so you can get a better understanding of what types of items they need. While you may have initially based your offerings on what you think they want, it may be time to circle back to the source to see if their needs have evolved.

If you’re unsatisfied with your ROI, don’t fret – chances are you just need to mix things up a little to really meet your clients’ needs. Now is the time to use the off-season to work through the kinks and tweak the process so that you’re ready for your best year yet.

Audrey Isaac is the spokesperson for 100 Candles, a wholesale market for candles and lights. Since 2002, thousands of wedding and event professionals have entrusted 100 Candles with their wholesale candle accounts. For more information, please visit http://www.100candles.com/.

Comment

Guest Contributor

WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


Follow