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


Differentiate your Brand, distinctly

Differentiate your BrandA friend of mine, fellow speaker, Larry Williams posted a discussion-driven thread on Facebook. It just begged for participation.

“Name an idea, product, service or business that is so unique that it changed everything and carved its own niche in the marketplace?.

(Note: Something besides the obvious iProducts. Think of things that changed our perception. ie; inventions, unique product launches, wild business plans etc.)”

When I last looked, there were about 70 comments on the thread. AND… the entire thread is worth reading. I took issue with two items. First, I didn’t understand why the whole category of iProducts was not considered, so I challenged the premise.

And, as always I made a dig at the phrase so unique, giving a mild rant, stating “it’s either unique or it’s not.” Most things that we see as new are not unique, but evolutionary or innovative (building on an existing product premise).

I apologize for temporarily hijacking the thread and Larry was kind enough to give me a pass.

So Andy, What’s your point?

Other than being momentarily nitpicky, there are some fine points I notice about how we define our businesses, and differentiate our products, service, and company culture from our competitors. When a product is truly NEW and UNIQUE, it can be very hard to sell. If prospective customers haven’t used a MAGIC NEW PRODUCT, they’re rarely clear on the differentiation.

We rarely put our businesses under a microscope and truly define its differences and advantages. Then, we must be able to explain the advantages to the prospect, and sell it to them. NEW does not always equal CONFIDENCE.

Videographers and Photographers struggled with the transition from film to digital. In my lifetime, DJs have moved from 45s to albums and 12″ singles to CDs to licensed compilation CDs (a variety pack of single songs on one CD) to Mp3’s on laptops.

In all three examples, a professional would tell you ‘the medium’, analog or digital, adds some advantages; however, the latest equipment is not the key issue. It’s about the talent.

  • How does the videographer capture the event, without getting in the way?
  • Do the videographer and photographer have professional understanding of lighting, and are they prepared for all eventualities?
  • Is a photographer just going down a list of shots they must take or do they have/bring a distinctive style to the event?
  • Hosting/Emceeing a wedding is far more subtle and challenging than playing the bride and groom’s favorite songs.
  • Does the DJ command the room to facilitate  the various events during the reception?
  • Does He/She work, cooperatively, with the various professionals, on-site, to make the event flow smoothly?

Ultimately, the discussion is about intangibles. Understanding the importance of intangibles and communicating how those intangibles impact the success of a given service… and collectively, the entire event… is something we need to be absolutely clear on. We know our own advantages, and that can cause us to assume to believe our differences must be obvious to the prospect.

Being the right fit

Another useless word is Best. Describing one’s company as THE BEST, is at a minimum, unclear; at a maximum, arrogant. Not every company is suited for every client. Pick any product or service used in a wedding, and you’ll find a bride and groom who may choose differently than you or I would. When the party if just a memory, they may be quite happy with their choice. Just because they don’t choose our company or what we may recommend, doesn’t make them wrong.

Forgetting How To Sell

When I talk with small business owners about what makes their company special, it’s hard to keep a poker face at the answers. I’ll often hear generic answers such as: We give great customer service. That answer is vague. It says almost nothing. Explain to me, precisely, what makes your customer service, superior and distinct from the competition. 

Too often we launch into a client presentation, rather than interview a prospect about what contribution and importance they place on our product/service. They may not have considered the question… at least not in that context, but to hire a company that is the right fit, understanding that premise is key.

Even Testimonials Can Be Useless

“You Rocked.”, “You’re the best photographer on the planet.” – Whether uttered on video, emailed, or in s handwritten letter, comments such as these don’t tell a prospective client anything of value. I realize you can’t control the clarity of appreciation, but you can decide which to use and which to skip.

Clarity and Fit

Selling and communicating are skills which require constant improvement. No matter how precise you believe you have been, sometimes you will be misunderstood. No matter how clearly you believe you understand the client, sometimes we lose the sale over a minor point. Not every client is the right fit for you. Accept it, and go find someone who is a better match.

However, the more concisely you can differentiate your products and services and how they connect with the wedding aspirations of the bride and groom, the more likely you will make the sale.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon 
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog