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WPW: You Are What You Sell

Posted by on Oct 22, 2014 in Industry Advice | No Comments

Though I feel (literally) like I just got off a plane coming from Colorado and the amazing Camp Engage! at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, somehow the calendar tells me that actually happened 4 months ago and that in a little less than a month I will be donning a bathing suit and taking the stage at Engage!14 Grand Cayman for what I hope will be an informative break out session. Not in that specific order… obviously.   This is all to say that I’ve been thinking about my presentation (pat on back for not procrastinating) and one aspect of it that I’ve written about here before, but I think bears repeating as all of our phones start to ring for the new season is this: You Are What You Sell.

What does this mean?   Your client relationship and dynamics start not when the contract is signed, but when you first sit down to actually meet.   They have never (mostly) done this before and they are walking around shopping not only for the service or art that you provide, but also for information on how that service will be provided.  You shape their expectation of what not only the process will be but also what their expectation should be and what your relationship will be.

Knowing that, what are you putting out there?  Are you selling about yourself or your service the thing that you most value and that you think sets you apart?  Or are you just putting yourself out there as another option?  Or worse, are you selling on price?

Are you presenting them with a understanding of your process, or are you just showcasing pretty images?  Do you have a process to present?  Because it can be a long road from point A to point Z if they have no idea what to expect along the way.

When you meet with a client are you conveying your expertise in your area and soliciting their trust in you?  Or are you simply selling to book the job?

For most of us on the Eastern Seaboard, we are winding down for the season and having a bit of a lull to re-asses and re-group before we commit a year or more of our lives to a roster of couples and the client relationships that come along with that.    Think through the aspects of the past season that you didn’t enjoy- Did you feel your creative ideas weren’t respected?  Did you feel like you were treated as an assistant instead of an expert?  Did you feel you were constantly being questioned?  Did you feel chaotic?  Think back to the sales meetings for those same clients and see how you may have sold yourself short….Present the business you want to run, not the one you think will make them bite.

The beauty of all businesses is that they are what we make of them, but what’s especially lovely about weddings is that we get a fresh start every year!

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Lovely Canadian friends, I am excited to announce that I will be coming to Toronto next year to speak at The Business of Weddings, a real powerhouse one-day symposium on Tuesday, March 31st truly chock full of amazing speakers with LOTS of stuff to say.  It’s also a group of people whom I know and really, really like so I am beyond excited for this.  Plus, there is only space for 75 attendees, so by the end of the night I know we’ll all be friends.  You can register here to hear me yap a bit, and also get to really learn from the incomparable Todd Fiscus, our mentor Marcy Blum, Engage! Founder Rebecca Grinnals, publishing powerhouses Angela Desveaux and Alison McGill and our host and founder Michael Coombs (also owner of Michael Coombs Entertainment).

The Business of Weddings

Beauty Product Roundup: Oily Skin Makeup Must Haves

Posted by on Oct 21, 2014 in Style | No Comments

Ah Friends, what a long strange trip it’s been since I last wrote. Unexpected business took us on a Californian adventure, where we wandered into the netherworlds of Cali, lingered too long in Los Angeles and ended with a wine tour of Santa Ynez. There were some good times (being hosted by the lovely Harmony Walton; our friend’s epic 40th Birthday party) and some bad (mainly involving a tragically misplaced wallet), but more importantly, there were several days of intense heat and needing to look our very best… which meant I got to experiment with some new products! It’s been a long while since I’ve done a good beauty round up, but here is everything you might possibly need (except for skill in application) for photo ready look at your engagement party, rehearsal dinner, or even your wedding day if you are going the DIY route, especially for those of you with oily skin!

Urban Decay's B6 Prep SprayPRIMING IS EVERYTHING!

I always honestly believed that this primer nonsense was just a way to sell you more product at Sephora, but, I must tell you if you are looking for a look that maintains, primer is key. Being an oily gal, I usually look for primers that are dual purpose. I started with Urban Decay’s B6 Prep Spray, which goes on under your moisturizer. If you aren’t a big makeup person on the day to day, a lot of these products are available in mini travel size, so you can minimize the hit on your wallet as well as the size of the bottle.

Post moisturizing, I swear by Sonia Kashuk’s Perfect Mattifying Primer. It’s from Target and it’s $15! I know, right? But honestly, I’ve tried primers at 2x the price and they have always had weird textures or other odd effects. This is the bomb. Honestly, it’s great on days when you are wearing no makeup, but want to control the shine. Of course, if you are anything like me you need to prime your eyelids as well and so far, of all the eyeshadow primers I’ve found, I am most fond of Urban Decay’s Anti-Aging (sigh) Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

BOOSTERS!

One of the bummers of oily skin is that you find you are so much more… absorbent than the average bear.  So often a blush fades quickly and powder is in a process of constant re-application.   When I first saw this new product from Benefit called Majorette, I thought (again)… excessive beauty product expenditures… but when I used it under my blush I found the color lasted all day and into the night.  It’s also super natural looking on it’s own if you are just going for a lazy Sunday brunch after a late Saturday night dinner if you know what I mean…

Benefit's Majorette

 

Completely having nothing to do with being Oily or not, since I found myself in a massive ULTA store, I had to try the new Benefit mascara, “They’re Real!”, which I bought in a test size version b/c I didn’t completely believe it…. but it worked.  Completely looked like lash extensions or something… on ME.  On Mayra, not so much.  I highly suggest testing it before you buy since it doesn’t seem to work for everyone AND I might doubly add, invest in a good eye makeup remover b/c that stuff does NOT want to come off. At all. Mario Bedescu Whitening Mask

SCRAPING IT ALL OFF

Honestly, a special event or occasion calls for way more makeup than our skin is used to wearing on a daily basis, so it might also call for a little bit more cleansing than is typical before bed.  I was super happy that for $4, I picked up the Freeman’s Charcoal and Black Sugar Purifying Mask.  Worth more than the few hundred pennies it cost.    The other mask that has been working wonders for me is the Mario Bedescu Whitening Mask, whose name is far more terrifying than the actual product.  It first of all feels really good, but secondly it has been remarkable at evening out sun spots and some old acne scars that I’ve had…. so might not be a bad purchase to work into the regimen a few weeks BEFORE the big day…..

WPW: ‘Cause You’ve Got To Have Friends

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Industry Advice | One Comment

WPW: Cause You’ve Got to Have Friends

Last night we were delighted to leave our beloved Brooklyn and head over to Chelsea to help warm the stunningly beautiful, brand spanking new Regas Studio. It was amazing to see the ladies and their letterpress settled into such a stylish, chic and creative space.

It was also amazing to get to connect with our local industry friends; many of whom we have known for years as we’ve watched each others’ businesses grow, expand and change. It got us thinking about the importance of not only these relationships, but also of these networking events. Yes, these kinds of relationships can lead to referrals and new business leads, but almost more importantly, they are great opportunities to take your business temperature.

Many of us are sole proprietorships, but even with partnerships like ours, it’s easy to get a bit myopic about our businesses. Colleagues for us can give us a fresh perspective on countless things- the state of the marketplace, fresh ways of marketing and even how you are feeling, emotionally, about your job/day to day/purpose. Who amongst us hasn’t had the experience of running into someone wildly excited about a project/client/business idea and hasn’t thought “Wow, I might need to refresh my batteries” or “Maybe I’m taking the wrong tack because whatever I’m doing isn’t making me feel as excited as he/she.”

Of course, just as with your friendships, with time and honesty the depth of perspective you can receive from engaging with your colleagues can only grow. This is the part that’s often the hardest since it means being frank about your work/life- not putting on a show you think might be more appealing. Remember, Bette Midler knew what she was talking about when she said you’ve got to have friends!

For all our Chicago friends, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at Toss the Bouquet on November 24th alongside our mentor Marcy Blum, Anja Winnika from The Knot, the delightful and intelligent Brian Worley and a whole roster of amazing business women working in this world of weddings! Don’t miss it and you can register today at ttb2014.eventbrite.com
Toss the Bouquet

 

Red Carpet Re-Cap: Bows and Bridal at the Emmy’s

Posted by on Aug 26, 2014 in Style | 2 Comments

Somehow I basically forgot all about the Emmy awards.  Monday nights at the tail end of August were so much more made for sipping Rose in a garden somewhere than for being glued to the TV set. So, I recapped the red carpet this morning via the magic of the internet.  While the New York Times remarked upon the lack of trends on this Red Carpet, I must say that I begged to differ:  there was an abundance of actresses channeling their “Bridal Moments” and radiating in modern white gowns (and pants).   As Bridal trends have become decidedly less Bridal and the red carpet serves as an oracle of details and fabrics and cuts that we are certain to see come to play at Bridal Market this fall.

Trains that descend from the shoulders… We saw Lupita Nyong’o rock this style last awards season and Laverne Cox took it officially Bridal in this glamorous gown that offers a modern, easy to wear take on a train.

Laverne Cox

Continuing the Lace-y trend that we saw in Naem Khan’s debut bridal collection, Camila Alves looks stunning in this lacey number (and her husband doesn’t look to shabby either!)

Camila Alves

Lucy Liu’s Zac Pozen gown evoked a Grecian Goddess with a modern flair.

Lucy Liu

Angela Basset and Sophia Vergara added a bit of metallic flair to their all white ensembles.  How fabulous is Angela’s look for a slightly older bride?  So chic and sexy!

Sophia VergaraAngela Basset

Another “mini trend” I noticed was bows and tie details.  From whimsical to sculptural.  Juliane Hough, Alison Williams, Allison Janey and Cat Deely all tied their looks up with a bow.

Alison WilliamsJuliane HoughCat Deely in Burberry Alison Janey

While bows do make the wearer look like she’s a present at a party, there were a couple of actresses who just wanted to look like living Fiesta’s!  Literally these two girls look like the Pinata at a kids’ party after it’s been whacked open.  I have to assume that they were as amused by their looks as I was.   Lena Dunham in Gianbatista Valli and Sarah Paulson in Giorgio Armani (who must have designed this after a bottle of wine and a few good jokes).

Lena Dunham in ValliSarah Paulson in Giorgio Armani

What did  you think of the Emmy Red Carpet this year?  Who wore your favorite gown?  Do you think that Lena Dunham is just F’ing with us now? Let me know! All photos courtesy The Cut! 

Run Your Business to Sell It: And Other Lessons Learned at Sage Wedding Pros

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Industry Advice | 4 Comments

Mayra and I had the best time speaking at Be Sage Conference  last week in Chicago.  It was our first time doing a speaking gig as a Duo and I must tell you it was a lot of fun.  A recap of some of our talk can be found here, but I thought I’d take a moment to share a few “A Ha!” moments that I had during the portions of the conference where we were able to listen to the other speakers and chat with the attendees.

Be Sage is organized by the women behind Sage Wedding Pros- Michelle Loretta and Kelly Simants- and their take on this conference was two days jam packed with learning opportunities for wedding business owners.  Their goal was totally reached, as we heard from Video Marketing expert and wedding planner Allison Howard, IP attorney Betsy Butwin, M & A Broker Barbara Taylor and PR Specialist Amy Flurry.   Some of our top takeaways:

1.  Video Marketing is the new MUST.  It was amazing to listen to Allison Howard explain how adding video to her website and marketing strategy has not only bolstered her business, it has tranformed her percentage of consultations to bookings from 60% to 100% because the video does the initial weeding of “good matches” and “bad matches” for her.  With over 90% of web traffic being driven by video by 2015, can you afford to not be there?  If you’ve been in business long enough for this to sound like what people said about blogging and social media, you are right.  Video is simply the next frontier.

2. You probably already have valuable intellectual property built into your business.  Are you protecting it? Be it a process or a valuable brand name as an expert in an area; your business may hold unique value. IP attourney  Betsy Butwin enlightened us not only on how we need to better protect our intellectual property through trademark, but also how we can potentially capitalize on it via licensing some or parts of our already existing businesses.

3. You should run your business as though you were going to sell it.  M & A Broker and Small Business Expert Barbara Taylor gave an ENLIGHTENING discussion about what it takes to sell a business and why you should be running your business as though preparing for sale in the long term: 85% of small business owners wealth is actually trapped in their business… and sometimes trapped in discretionary expenses that reduce your bottom line, but also eat into your potential liquidity/company valuation.   For that reason alone, even if you were never to sell, run your business as your asset versus your life… and know it’s worth.  Wondering how valuable or salable your business might be?  How easily can you take vacation?  That’s the ultimate litmus test to how viable your business is for a sale.

4. Press is not about driving direct sales, it’s about attracting opportunities and collaborators.   Of course, this often leads to broader sales, according to DIY PR expert and author of Recipe for Press, Amy Flurry.  Flurry warns of not getting discouraged by press outreach simply because a magazine mention didn’t lead to a direct flood of business, but to recognize the business growth is in the opportunity the press will lead to.

5. Don’t just have goals, create actionable timetables for achieving them.  One of the best framing exercises of the conference began with Michelle asking us to write down all of our life and work goals and dreams.  By the end of the conference Kelly asked us each to select at least one and create a 7, 30 and 60 day plan for action.  I know that I made mine… up to 90 days, so keep your ears open as we look to share our next project!

Thank you to all the ladies who spoke and attended for such an energizing two days! And thanks to Michelle and Kelly at Be Sage!  A fabulous experience.

#BestieinBusiness speaking at the Be Sage Conference