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The Academy Google Hangouts are a chance for our students to chat with a tutor live on air and give a great insight into what life is like as an Academy student. It is great publicity for our students and a chance to talk about what it is they are trying to achieve, their business, or their job in the events industry.

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The Business of Weddings Podcast Show

The Business of Weddings Podcast show is available on iTunes and is hosted by several of the staff at the Academy. Each podcast brings you an up close and personal interview with a different expert within the wedding and event industry to help you learn from those already out there enjoying success.

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Industry News

What’s Sales Got To Do With Wedding Planning?

Recently I had to write down a list of skills I use in my work and I hesitated as I went to write the word sales.  Like many women, I have numerous roles in my life, each requiring different functions; from being creative to organised, resourceful and a good communicator.  These are all things I am very proud of, so why not a sales person? Sales is something that most of us engage in, yes even Wedding & Event Planners, Stylists and Designers.  There are no weddings to plan and events to design if you don’t first sell your services to clients.  So whilst someone who works with clients to create spectacular events may call themselves a Designer, they are also a sales-person; if you have a product or service that you want someone else to ‘consume’, you are in the business of selling.
When I ask people what they think about the idea of being a ‘sales person’ responses vary but are often in the negative.  Or people question the idea that they are actually a salesperson admitting that the idea makes them feel uncomfortable. But the truth is almost all of us have something to sell and this is a theory explored in a book I highly recommend to anyone wanting to become more comfortable with sales; To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink.
I think the healthy way to look at sales is to remember that sales is what makes the economy go around.  If you are in business, you are most certainly interested in profits, which means you have to take an interest in sales.  The ‘sale’ is what is going to put you in a position to do the work you love as an Event or Wedding Professional. The same goes for you if you an employee in a wedding or event business, or at a venue. Almost all of these roles involve selling to some degree and it is why we cover sales and marketing in our Diploma courses here at the Academy.
But the idea of having to sell, makes me cringe
If you cringe when you hear the word ‘sales’ try thinking like a sales-person, rather than acting like one. What do I mean by this?  I think the biggest difference between someone who comes across as only interested in sales is that care factor.  Caring for your clients is rewarding and a good way to do business.  Paying attention to how you sell, how you convert leads into sales and how you get leads in the first place, shouldn’t replace good old-fashioned care and concern for your customers.  You don’t need to be the ‘in your face’ sales-person to make a sale and you don’t have to go after every lead to be great at sales. Sometimes it’s about knowing when you are not right for the client too.  A sales person who cares about how they sell will:

Have a good understanding of their target market and what motivates them to buy.
Demonstrate great customer service from the outset – from enquiry stage and beyond.
Take time to understand the lead’s needs and the reason for contacting them.
Put forth a considered proposal for how they can help the lead with their ‘problem’,
Be able to answer questions and address concerns the lead may have.
Know how to price their services fairly and with consideration to both making a profit and doing the best by the client.
Close the sale with confidence.
Be able to walk away from a job if they are not the right person for it/can’t give it the time and attention it needs/can’t offer it at the price the client is fixed on paying, or if the services they provide just don’t match what the client needs.

Further Reading
If you are looking for more on this subject these posts from our blog make great reading:
Negotiating with wedding clients by Kylie Carlson
Preparing for your first client consultation by Kylie Carlson
Preparing to make your first sale by Christine Ligthart
The post What’s Sales Got To Do With Wedding Planning? appeared first on Blog for Wedding Industry Professionals.
What’s Sales Got To Do With Wedding Planning?

The Shop Front of your Wedding Business

As Wedding and Event Planners most of us won’t have business premises from which people can walk into off the street. It is one of those wonderful businesses that can be run from home without the need of huge overheads. That being the case how then does one get noticed? How do people find you and how do you show people what you have to offer? Well in the day of advanced technology we all know that the only way to survive these days in business is to have a website. And that is where many people make or break their business.
Your website essentially becomes your shop front. It is the first impression people have of you and your business and it is where they make the decision whether or not to look into the possibility of you handling the biggest and most important event of their life. That’s a fair amount of pressure for one small website so to get it wrong would be business suicide. The hard part, of course, is that you are a professional wedding and event planner/small business owner/sales consultant/marketing coordinator/accounts clerk and many other things besides. Do you really want to add website designer to your list? Your answer should be a resounding NO.
I learnt a long time ago in business that my time equals money and as such, I needed to give myself an hourly rate of what I thought I was worth. Having done that it was time to put a value on all those things that needed doing within my business. I soon found there were areas of my business which I wasn’t very good at, areas which I knew would take me twice as long to do as what it might take a professional within that field. This meant I was better off to invest the money in a professional rather than spend more of my own time (and money if you equate that to my hourly rate). It doesn’t take a genius to do the maths and I took the same approach with my website.

Planning your wedding business website
I know nothing about HTML coding and I want it to stay that way. What I do know however is what I want my website to achieve, how I want it to look, the style it should have and the message it delivers. All these things are crucial. When you speak to a potential web designer he needs to have a full understanding on all of those things and more. To help you in your quest to create a website that reflects you and your business I have come up with 5 simple steps:

What do you want from your website? Do you want to simply attract people to your services and get them to email you for your details? Do you want it to be an online brochure with all your prices up there? Or do you want potential clients to be able to book an appointment with you online so it is more like a diary management system? Until you know what you want from your website your designer doesn’t stand a chance.
What style do you want your website to have? Now, this can be a difficult one so I have found that the best way to get the style you have in your mind across to your web designer is to give him/her 5 websites that you love and point out what you love about them. My advice would be to try and make sure that they have a similar style otherwise you will be sending mixed messages to your web designer and they will be unsure of what it is you are asking of them.
What is your budget? Sounds simple I know but you’d be surprised how many people have put a figure to their project. This is essential because you may have some very fixed ideas on what you want your website to do but you may not have the budget to be able to incorporate them. Neither you or your web designer wants to spend hours on a design only to find you can’t afford it.
What is the timeline of the project? Most designers will have a lead time of at least 2 weeks so you need to factor this into things. If you require a website quickly you will need to be prepared to pay a little extra for a rush job.
Check out your designer’s portfolio. This is an important step as it will show you the type of things they can do and may well give you some inspiration of your own. You can also tell your designer which of their styles you like and how you would like to incorporate this into your own design.

Whatever you decide to do my biggest piece of advice is to make sure you really think the design through from start to finish. Draw up a plan in the same way as you would for your marketing.  I have always had a basic map drawn out of what I want and what I am trying to achieve. My web designer loves it as it gives him a very clear path to follow and there is no problem with miscommunication.
The post The Shop Front of your Wedding Business appeared first on Blog for Wedding Industry Professionals.
The Shop Front of your Wedding Business

Tuesday Tutorial – Wedding Fairs – Interview with Louise Campbell

Lizzie Waterson is a recent addition to our New Zealand Academy tutor team, as well as the proud owner of Elizabeth Jean Weddings and Events. She has planned, styled and executed celebrations from an intimate 18 to large scales of over 120+ guests. This week Lizzie interviews Louise Campbell to get her expert advice on exhibiting your business at a Wedding Fair.
As a new business, the thought of exhibiting at your first ever wedding expo can be rather daunting. Events like these take a lot of preparation, thoughtful and strategic planning, as well as a financial investment. So we went straight to the source and sat down with Louise, the owner of Taranaki Weddings to see firsthand what we are likely to expect as a ‘First timer’ and a few tips, tricks and advice to help give us the inside scoop.
Louise has worked in the wedding industry for the past 6 years. She has experience in not only running events such as the Taranaki Weddings Bridal Fayre, Wedding Show and Taranaki Wedding Awards but also building and maintaining an industry relevant community while also being the proud owner of Churchwood Bridal.

What do you think are the main benefits for students launching a career in the wedding industry to take part in an expo/bridal fair?
Taking part in a large public event like our Wedding Shows and Bridal Fairs gives you a unique opportunity to meet the people who need your services face-to-face. It gives you a chance to launch yourself – to promote your products and services and to learn more about the market you’re trying to service. It also gives you a great opportunity to see what other services are on offer, to get to know other business owners – to network and to build relationships. There are no other types of advertising that offer quite so much as taking part in an event. It CAN be a large financial commitment – especially when you’re in the early stages of building your business – but the rewards far outweigh the costs.
Louise are there any specific requirements needed to take part?
You need to have a good understanding of what you’re trying to achieve – know your product/service well and have confidence in it. Go armed with every little bit of information you can – people will ask questions and being able to answer them will be hugely beneficial to you.  You need to be open minded and willing to take rejection (and use that rejection to your advantage). Not EVERYONE who goes to an event is looking for your specific service – but don’t be afraid to engage regardless – you can learn so much from talking to them and who knows who they might speak to in the future that CAN use your product or service.
What are some typical things they can expect to talk to couples about?
How you approach people at events and what you say is SO important! Don’t fire yourself straight at them asking if they want your service. Greet them with a smile – say hello and ask which one (if there’s a group together) is planning the wedding and remember to make sure the people with them feel included as well. Engage them in a conversation so that they know that they’re more than just a sale to you. Ask them questions about their wedding – make sure they know that their wedding is important.
Take your diary along – people will ask your availability there and then (and sometimes they even like to book). They’re also going to ask about pricing – so be prepared to answer as best you can. They may ask about your experience (dependant on your services) – a portfolio or testimonials can help.
What advice would you have for new businesses looking at doing their first expo?

Learn everything you can about the product you are selling and be confident about it. If you’re selling yourself and your services – be confident in your abilities and don’t be afraid to tell people that you’re good.
Dress smartly – make an effort with your appearance and be well presented. I know that sounds obvious (and potentially a bit vain) – but believe it or not – it’s vitally important and making the wrong decision about clothing can really hamper your sales and response on the day. Dress appropriately for the service or product you’re offering. If you’re a celebrant – dress the way you would at a wedding. Representing a specific brand – wear a shirt with the logo etc.
Don’t hide behind a table (if you’re using one) – push the table against the wall and stand in front of it – you’ll appear more welcoming and approachable.
Go big with your branding and display if you can – make sure your stall stands out and is identifiable and engaging. Make sure it represents who you are and what you do.
Be prepared – it can be a long day. Wear comfortable shoes, take plenty of water and snacks. Keep breath mints to hand.
Be polite when rejected – as I said before. Not everyone is going to want to stop and talk to you. Greet them warmly and if they reject you – smile and wish them well.
Be discrete and positive – don’t say anything negative about customers, potential customers, other businesses, your competition or the event organisers in the earshot of visitors or customers. Everyone in the room is a potential client and you want them to see you in the very best light.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – contact the event organisers and ask if they have suggestions or tips.
If you’re not quite ready to exhibit at an expo – go along as a visitor and check the scene out – you’ll be more prepared for when you are ready.
Read every page of Terms and Conditions and know the rules (they usually also contain helpful information about the event) – you don’t want to be the business that isn’t allowed back because you blocked a fire exit etc.
Make sure you have insurance – this is so important. If you damage anything, break anything – or in the worst case scenario – something happens at the venue and your stock is damaged – you want to make sure you’re protected.

The post Tuesday Tutorial – Wedding Fairs – Interview with Louise Campbell appeared first on Blog for Wedding Industry Professionals.
Tuesday Tutorial – Wedding Fairs – Interview with Louise Campbell

The Creative Brain Aerobics

I have recently reignited my passion for working out at the gym and have been going to classes on a regular basis. I have experienced the wonders that are Zumba and had a really interesting experience in the Rejuvenation Class which was actually a combination of aerobics and circuit training. It was after a particularly vigorous session, where my body was aching and my muscles were sore and feeling the affect of what I had done, when I realized there was a similarity between the exhaustion my body feels after working out and the exhaustion my mind feels after a really creative brainstorming session.
There is a certain amount of satisfaction one feels after a really good workout. The endorphins are kicking in and the adrenaline is pumping which is why I tend to go for early morning workouts, as it wakes me up and sets me up for the day. The same should be done for the mind. Our minds need to be mentally stimulated and challenged on a daily basis to keep them alert and firing on all cylinders.
As wedding and event planners, designers and stylists we work in a highly creative atmosphere and are often required to turn on the creative side of our minds at a moment’s notice. We all know that this is no easy task so how do we go about it? What can we do to really keep our minds active and allow them to fire-up quickly? Here are our top tips for productive creative brain aerobics.

Daily Discovery – try and learn something new every day and then relate it to weddings and events. Try reading about the latest trends in home interiors and see how you can integrate these into your next event. The idea of this exercise is to train yourself to automatically look for connections between things
Shower Singing – let rip when you are in the shower and sing your favourite songs. This helps to unleash the creative side of your brain. Have you ever noticed how it is so much easier to rhyme when you sing rather than write? This is because the right brain is better at pattern recognition.
Go Crazy – let your mind run wild on one idea. Each day pick a word and spend 5 minutes brainstorming other words that expand on your chosen word. Nothing is off limits and anything goes. Don’t have any barriers and let your mind roam free. This exercise done daily will help your creative mind spark into action quicker.
Doodle – creative doodling allows you to unleash the unconscious mind through symbolic expression. Focus on one element of an event your planning and hold it in your mind whilst allowing yourself to go into a blank stare. When ideas start to flood your mind simply doodle them onto a blank piece of white paper.
Become Cryptic – do a daily crossword to get your mind thinking. Not only will cryptic crosswords keep your mind sharp they will also help you to start thinking creatively. They are an excellent way to flex your brain muscles, and clear the cobwebs from your mind.

To find out more on how you can improve your creativity, brainstorm efficiently and kick start your event design career visit our Academy website. Here you can find out more about your local campus and the multitude of courses we offer.
The post The Creative Brain Aerobics appeared first on Blog for Wedding Industry Professionals.
The Creative Brain Aerobics


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