The Difference My Friend – Is You. Be Yourself

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There is no doubt that just the briefest of searches online reveals just how big an array of planners, designers, florists, photographers….cake makers and dress designers there are out there at the moment. If I can say, they are all special in their own right, and each has something to offer the vastly differing budgets of the clients with whom we work.

An obvious question however has to be that which surrounds such a competitive market and what must at some point be a supply V demand issue. Imagine then being the client who has to make that choice. To be in the position of trying to choose one of many companies who could do the job and worrying whether or not you made the right choice?

So what are clients looking for when choosing a company and is there such thing as a wrong decision?

Below are a couple of my thoughts and one or two on selling – you!

Clients Want To Work With People They Like:  I have said it over and over, but relationships are key, and regardless of your talent, clients want to know that you are someone with whom they will enjoy planning their event. I personally feel very privileged when clients take the time to write to me post an event, but more so, mention that I am a nice guy to do business with. I have been lucky enough to work with some great people over the years, and above all else – returning to use their services relates to them as people and how they are as people says a lot about how their business is likely to run.

There is no secret to Sales:  Honesty, be genuine, open and down-to-earth with your clients.  They can detect false promises and more than that, false people, from a mile away and ego has no place in the service industry (although easier said than done).

Straight to the point: There is a lot of competition out there. Be clear about what sets you apart and don’t be afraid to flaunt it. I had to think long and hard about what that was for me before launching WHiTEPAPER – did the industry need another planner? HELL YEAH!

Chin Up: Being a little different and thinking out of the box is not for everyone. Prepare yourself already for the fact that your vision for events may not match everybody else’s. You need to keep your chin up therefore and think positively  – take the time to look back and see just how far you have come as you stare onwards and in to the distance, and where you want to be.

Value Yourself:  DONT BE ARROGANT! Work hard and a confidence will be created, a stepping stone on which you can build and approach new clients. However, never forget just where you came from and who may have given you that chance when no one else would. Work hard will take you so far, but if you had not been humble way back when, you may never have got your foot in the door in the first place. Value your work and the price you put on it – but don’t think that the work alone is enough for longevity within this world.

With hundreds of thousands of weddings taking place each year I would like to think that there is enough work for everyone. Be true to yourself, and fair to your clients. Smile, breathe and remember the journey you took to the top and set your foundations well.

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goodbye 2011, hello 2012 – an ode

The wind blows all around him, pin like rain beating down and being thrust one by one in to his face,
He wipes away the water with disdain,
Finally coming to a brief standstill at the end of the 2011 cliff – for what seems like the first time in an age,
He winces slightly as the dull pain in his leg – as it begins to creep like a vine slowly upwards,
Kicks in as the adrenalin wears off and reminds him of the need to soon be on the move again,
Feet like concrete, unable to lift a muscle

As our superhero looks on in to the distance, his eyes slowly shut and his breath deepens,
Silence, and yet a head so full of memory – emotion…..a showreel of life as it plays behind closed eye,
And then,

Nothing

As his eyes begin to open and a ray of sun fights its way through a silvery grey cloud,
Illuminating the angel,
Looking back is fruitless – for we are only as good as our future we create,
Fickle is the world in which events reside, 
And few are the moments when good is good enough,

As if trying to lift heaven itself, body battered and bruised,
dragging our feet backwards, the run up essential if he is to make the distance,
Listening to the sound of beating heart – slowly at first, faster still
he sets off – a raging bull, the shackles of pain left by the wayside as he builds up speed,
Faster and with one almighty cry skyward,

The leap……in to the new

Stop, Look, Listen – The Events Complaint Highway Code

I was recently reminded me about one of the fundamentals of Event Management.

We can spend as much time as we like preparing, ensuring all bases are covered, with every eventuality explored – but there is little way to escape “client perception” of their event and how it was managed. There are times when little out of the box effort has been made, and yet the praise flows like water. However, it tends to be more frequent, when thinking that you have done all you could have to ensure the success of the event, that the comments imply otherwise, and you feel the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach as you read an email that causes you to get that itchy anxious feeling inside.

I will say this. Outside of knowing that there are always things to learn from an event, even if it did go well, and  how to do things slightly differently a second time around –  it is more likely than not, that we didn’t quite do “everything” we could have to avoid  reading the negative feedback, or having to manage what always (if you genuinely care) feels like a personal attack on our abilities.

Perception is a very interesting way to see things, and a word that can be used all to often without justification for the allowances that usually then follow. The question then is obvious; “How do you manage the client perception, and in the event of receiving a complaint, what is the best way to approach a response?”

I will admit that this is something that even now is a learning curve for me, and the thoughts below are reminders more than gospel, and (a la the X factor) in no particular order;

Listen – both to your clients needs pre event, and their comments post. This works for when things go well, and when needing to respond to their feedback. If we don’t listen then we will never learn
Do not listen and then start your first sentence with the words, “yes, but…”
My sister used to tell me, “opinions can’t be wrong”. I never liked that, but she may well be right. The same therefore, goes for perception – and whether you agree or not, we must understand the “who, what, where and why’s” of the feedback our clients give us
That said, the client is not interested in our “why” – and I would avoid giving explanations as to what went wrong
Without feedback how would we ever better our service?
Unless you know for sure that the comments are directly attacking you and your ability, do not take them personally
Even the best oiled machines break down, find the problem – fix it, and make sure it doesn’t happen again
Never leave a matter unresolved, I promise you, it will not just go away
Don’t be afraid to admit you made a mistake
Clients respect honesty

I can’t profess to having always got things right, and for sure, sometimes I may take things too personally. I try though to learn from each experience, and in doing so improve who I am. Success is dependant as much on a mindset as it is the ability to write or speak in a manner that begins to rebuild the positive perception our clients need to have, that ensures they re book with us once again.