Always done it this way

black-bear-breakfast1Black Bear Diner is one of my favorite breakfast places. I had a morning meal there, last Friday. It’s a relatively small chain of restaurants (62 locations) and feels like a local establishment.

Everyone is courteous. Staff members recognize you upon arrival. The waitresses know your ‘usual,’ and refills your coffee cup without being asked. The portions are generous and prices are moderate.

What’s not to like? Well, look closely at the picture. It’s the wimpy, wilted lettuce, underneath the orange slice. Friday, I ordered multi-grain pancakes with strawberries and sugar-free syrup (it’s a diabetic thing). The garnish is a fresh orange slice on a wimpy, slice of wilted lettuce.

I understand a leaf of lettuce with a burger and fries. What is leaf of lettuce doing on the underside of an orange slice, with pancakes? I mean really. It’s incongruous, it’s bizarre. It’s contrary. And it’s not even a fresh, crisp lettuce leaf. It’s wimpy and wilted. I have now taken to asking the waitress-of-the-day (Friday it was Deane) to banish such wimpy, wilted lettuce from my plate.

The truly humorous thing is asking, “So tell me, what’s the history of putting a wimpy, wilted leaf of lettuce under every garnish?” the answer is something akin to “I don’t really know. We’ve always done it this way.”

In this case, the wimpy, wilted lettuce is not going to stop me from patronizing the Black Bear Diner, but it raised a different, perhaps bigger question, in my mind.. What does the “wimpy-wilted-lettuce factor” have to do with Wedding Marketing in your business and mine? What little thing are we doing that annoy prospects and customers and could be changed, simply, without a cost factor or great effort? What are you doing ‘because you’ve always done it that way?’

  • Are you a photographer or videographer who drops your gear, just anywhere, at the reception, without regard to safety or aesthetics?
  • Are you a musician or DJ who is sloppy about taping down wires? Do you use grey duct tape, when black stage tape would make a better appearance?
  • Are you a baker or florist who delivers their creations dressed in a t-shirt and ragged jeans? How about a custom company polo short (with logo), and khakis, instead?
  • Does your website have photos that take 3 minutes to load because they were processed five years ago? Are your testimonials from 1999?
  • Do you do a good job for the client, but seldom properly acknowledge a referral?
  • Do you only call clients and peers to ask for something or to vent? How about calling just to see how they’re doing, and not to ask for anything?

It’s no secret that the wedding industry is highly competitive. Distinguish yourself by doing little things well. What’s your wimpy-wilted-lettuce factor? Identify and fix it. No fanfare.

And another thing… I never mix my soul food with caviar pie! Andy Ebon The Wedding Marketing Blog

PS: If you live in the Western United States, go visit a Black Bear Diner near you. And if you see wimpy, wilted lettuce, point it out. And tell them, Andy from Las Vegas said, “Get it outta here”.

black bear diner

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon 
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

 

Stand out in a crowd, without dressing like Lady Gaga

Stand Out
Lady Gaga

Networking situations have interesting dynamics. What makes people gravitate toward others? Why do certain individuals stand out and others become invisible?

Last night, Singer/SongWriter/Performance Artist, Lady Gaga, appeared at the Pearl Showroom, in the Palms, Las Vegas. This morning, there was a positive review in the paper. No review of Lady Gaga would be written without an arduous discussion of her wardrobe (costuming). Her ever-changing glam fashion facade recalls breakthrough presences of performers such as Madonna and David Bowie.

Eyes can be on you, without your having to be ostentatious. Here are two examples.

DJ Marcello Pedalino is the first. I first met Marcello  a number of years ago at a DJ Conference. He  stood was he was impeccably dressed. Suit and tie, sharply groomed, neat as a pin.

stand out
DJ Marcello Pedalino

In a gather of mobile DJ’s, who all to often sported T-shirts and jeans, accessorized by expanding waistlines, Marcello always stands out. If you didn’t know him, you would think, “I wonder who HE is. He must be somebody important.”

Over the long term, this has created what I term The Marcello Effect. Year by year, I see more and more mobile DJ’s decked out in suit and tie, even when it might not be absolutely necessary. Hopefully, they are continuing that fashion statement in their local networking opportunities, not just at national DJ conference, because it looks good.

Darcy Anderson, Fashion Director, JC Penney: Darcy was a client, when my first DJ company, Music Man, provided music for many fashion shows in the San Francisco Bay Area.

stand outDarcy was a stylish dresser, but what stood out was her singular fashion accessory, a bumblebee pin. Actually what stood out was not the pin, itself, but where she wore it. Darcy always wore it on the right shoulder, on the back of her jacket.

Invariably, people would see the pin from a distance, and come up to her to let her know she had ‘something on her shoulder’ only to see it was not a mistake, but a fashion accessory.

This staple of Darcy’s wardrobe made her distinctly memorable. Here I am, blogging about it thirty years later.

What are you doing to make yourself distinct and memorable? In this case, not your company, YOU. When you walk into a room of 125 people, many of whom haven’t met you, is there anything you’re doing by your presence or actions that makes you memorable?

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Cliche of the Day: "Wedding Trends"

clicheThis is opinion, and rant… also, well worth reading 🙂

I was reading some Top Trends for 2011 lists from various wedding media, both online and print. The more I read, the more I became annoyed.

I first encountered ‘trends’, when going to private school in New York City. Way-back-when, from about fifth grade, and up, boys were required to wear jackets and ties, daily (that tradition ended in senior year). Frankly, I found the clothing climate, pretentious, but I digress.

My mom would take me shopping to a retailer, aptly named “The Prep Shop”. In recommending buying options for me, the owners would crow “This is what they’re wearing this year”. Already old enough to have a BS Filter, I would ask: “Exactly who are they?”

top10Later, during my disc jockey career, in addition to weddings, I provided music for about 100 fashion shows, annually. It was there I witnessed Stage 4 Pretention in the form of society women following brand name fashion designers of the highest order.  They would blindly pay big bucks for dresses for the it-designer-of-the-month. Sometimes the style was a hit, sometimes a miss. The cash register would ring, in either case.

For the last 15 years, my involvement with the wedding industry has been primarily from a marketing perspective. It strikes me as incredibly bizarre that so many brides and businesses follow the lists of others as though these trends were etched-in-stone.

It strikes me as completely contradictory to follow trends while concurrently trying differentiate one’s wedding or one’s business from others.

My outlook is this:

“Brides are caught up in the vortex of the engagement. Asking them to reconcile the contradictions is a tough task. For wedding industry businesses, it should not be that way. Don’t be a trend-follower. Be a trend-setter. Be a forward thinking company that has competitors chasing you. If you want to become a wedding SuperHero in your market, you don’t get there by adding products or services that are floated out there as trends.”

Get out of the office, go to an association networking meeting, drive to a regional conference, fly to a national or international conference.

Read both digital and dead-tree resources. Watch TV shows. Attend special events.

Then, don’t blindly play follow-the-leader. Employ a thoughtful filter to add what suits your company personality, and what you think will connect with the target customer in your area.

Don’t just copy. Adapt and have an original thought, from time to time.

Be a leader, not a follower. Set yourself apart by NOT simply following trends. 

End of rant! Thank you for your patience 🙂

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority

What does your email address say about you?

email-for-clownsMany wedding industry business cards pass through my hands. Many emails descend into my computer. I continue to see a disturbing tendency in email addresses. Fortunately, it’s easily cured.

An alarming number of email addresses reek of amateur hour. One wouldn’t show up at a networking event in T-shirt, cutoffs and flip-flops, would one? Why would a business use an equally non-professional email address?

Without busting actual addresses or people, let me construct some fictitious email addresses and then explain their various shortcomings.

  • janesbakeshop@aol.com: This person shows a website address on her business card as janesbakeshop.com. AOL is something almost all of us started with; however, it is not a business email address. It makes you look as though you are operating out of your garage. Even if you are operating out of your garage, one should move on to jane@janesbakeshop.com. Don’t close the AOL account. In fact, it’s good to use an AOL browser to see how people look at your website. AOL now includes email forwarding features.
  • midnightmama9696@yahoo.com: I’m glad this person has a private social life or nickname; however, it doesn’t look too cool when filling out an industry order form and doesn’t show well on a business card. This kind of email should be strictly private.
  • joesdjandweddingofficiant@gmail.com: This person has multiple businesses and is trying to wrap them into one free email address. He should have two websites: joesDJservice.com and weddingofficiantjoe.com – He should maintain them as separate business identities. For that reason, Joe might get a personal domain, such as joesmith.com to use for ALL communication. His standard email might then simply be joe@joesmith.com. I recommend having a Google email account (gmail) as a business backup, but it does not support the name or domain of your website.
  • tennesseeweddingdiva@hotmail.com: Don’t use the word Diva, unless it is part of your business name or domain name. NEVER use a Hotmail account. Hotmail accounts have a high incidence of being used to send spam. Consequently, your email to a prospect or customer has a higher chance of being directed to a spam folder or blocked, entirely. If this business has the domain tennesseeweddingdiva.com, then the email should be maryclaire@tennesseeweddingdiva.com.
  • bayareamuseum@msn.com: Abbreviations are tricky. Is this Green Bay, Tampa Bay, San Francisco Bay, or some other bay? As well, it’s an msn.com account; not a real domain. In the real world, it should be something like events@tampabaymuseum.org
  • supercalifragilisticexpialidocius517@theworldsbestdisneydj.com: Annoying, long email addresses are counterproductive. Short, sweet, and easy to remember is the way to go.

Your email address should be simple and reinforce your domain name. AndyEbon@WeddingMarketing.net or simplify further by just using your first name. This is about being explicit, memorable and projecting a professional image.

Here’s the deal. If you use a sub-standard email address for your business, change it, today. Then, change your email listings, everywhere, to the new address. Notify your contacts. It’s not that difficult; just takes some time. Tough!

If this is you, these steps should have taken place long ago. NO EXCUSES!! Just get it done! Amateur Hour is over.

And if one of your friends is a guilty party on this matter, please send this blog post address to them. They will thank you.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Blog