Holiday Cards: What’s your plan?

holiday cardsWith Halloween now behind us, can Christmas be closer than you think? Indeed it can be, and is.

When acknowledging your customers and industry contacts, it’s not necessarily bad manners having two or more tiers of communication and appreciation.

  • Lowest Level: Ecards – Send to casual friends or business acquaintances (perhaps people you know, but have no actual business relationship with, as yet).
  • Highest Level: Gifts – Long standing customers and industry contacts who refer you, or hire your company, regularly. (Note: This will be a special focus in a future blog).
  • Medium Level: Holiday Cards – Send to those people who fall in the middle, such as: Annual customers, fellow members in trade associations, your accountant, and the like.

Notice, I said holiday cards, not Christmas cards. No it’s not a religious issue, really.

It’s a timing and attention thing.

My experience says, the best strategy is to send Thanksgiving cards or New Years cards!

“Why?” you ask. Here’s the logic… Many companies are deferring their decisions about holiday parties (yes, no, how opulent, how understated) as long as they can. Their final plans may be influenced my sales, profits, layoffs, the presidential election, or any number of factors you’re unaware of.

Rather than wait until December, if your product or service is tied to a holiday party or December business (such as gift baskets, balloons, or stationery), get out in front with a Thanksgiving card. Send a card to be received between Wednesday, November 19th, and Monday, November 24th.

Your holiday wishes will be among the first received, and you will be top-of-mind with people who know you, like you, and are in a position to rehire you or refer you business.

If the window of opportunity for Thanksgiving card has closed, send a New Year greeting, right after Christmas. Many of your contemporaries have a soft workweek and your New Years wishes will hit-the-spot.

And, by the way, it’s OK to put ONE business card in each envelope. Final thing, make sure the card, signed by ALL your office staff, if possible. Not just you.

Looking for a marketing edge to trump your competitors? Stand out from the crowd by sending Thanksgiving Cards. Then listen for the phone to ring.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority

Wedding Marketing Fallout of ‘One Bad Apple’

wedding marketingFlashback!

On July 9th, I blogged about the fiasco of 7/7/07 weddings, perpetrated by the Las Vegas Garden of Love Wedding Chapel. At the end of August, there was an update, noting a lawsuit against the same chapel by MGM/Mirage & Bellagio.

Since then, there have been various updates in the Las Vegas newspapers and beyond. A couple of months ago, Las Vegas Garden of Love lost its license to do business. The chapel has closed up shop and its website is gone.

The impact of its misdoings and demise, still ripple through the Las Vegas wedding industry. Some inbound wedding couples, caught unaware by the closing, had to scramble to complete their vows. Former competitors of the Las Vegas Garden of Love have helped, in a big way, thereby preserving the good name of Las Vegas.

Despite that goodwill, the number of people coming to marry in Las Vegas is down for the third straight year. A recent article in the Las Vegas Review Journal, cites a number of factors, including the sagging economy. However, many people feel that Las Vegas weddings, and Las Vegas Wedding Chapels, in particular, have suffered wedding-marketing-fallout from industry in-fighting, fueled by the Las Vegas Garden of Love.

Some of the existing wedding chapels have hired former employees of Las Vegas Garden of Love. The results have been less than stellar. When one knows of the deficiencies of people, by direct observation or checking their history, it’s only prudent to believe the information and keep your distance.

The only thing more powerful than good public relations is bad public relations. The notion that “all publicity is good,” is foolish.

Who you choose to hire, and who you choose to associate with, outside your business, are critical decisions.

In this case, just one business with questionable ethics and practices, appears to have an impact on many businesses around it.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Existing Business Relationships: Maintain Them and Build On Them

Existing Business Relationships13 Business Building Strategies To Start The New Year: Tip #3

Selling-to-the-bride is not done in a vacuum. A bride’s awareness of your business is fueled in many ways; often indirectly.

She reads your ads, website, see you at a wedding showcase, to name a few. However, there are two ways she is moved toward you, or away from you, even more than direct contact.

The Gatekeepers

A Gatekeeper is a business contact who stands between you and the bride or between you and yet another contact, connected to the bride.

Where's the gatekeeper?For a vendor, the most obvious gatekeepers are people in positions such as catering sales manager or private event manager. For a catering sales manager, private event manager, AND a vendor, a wedding consultant is a gatekeeper. People in these position control both the path of communication to brides (which may be their prospects or clients, at a given time) and they provide positive or negative opinion and influence on the bride.

It is essential that you maintain, and build on, existing relationships with gatekeepers to gain additional access to the bride.

It is necessary and important to build new gatekeeper relationships, as there will always be attrition. However, your primary job is to maintain and build your present contacts.

  • Does your company have a specific Social Media Strategy? A strategy that keeps your name and business activities ‘top of mind’ with the gatekeepers.
  • Do you belong to local trade associations and networking groups?
  • Are you active in those groups, with your presence, participation, and thoughtful donations?
  • Do you meet one-to-one with gatekeepers regularly.

By systematically redefining and fortifying key relationships,  you can assure an ongoing flow of wedding leads and bookings.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

 

 

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority

Start networking, yesterday!!

start networkingMy friends who work at wedding venues are losing jobs at an alarming rate. Their job tenure appears to have no relation to their departure.

In some cases the person with the most experience (and highest paycheck) is let go in a ‘cost-cutting move.’ In other situations, a job is eliminated, due lack of event activity, and one or more people absorb the work until ‘business picks up.’ In yet other cases, business close down altogether.

Here’s the thing: If you slave away as an event or catering manager for a wedding venue, it’s easy to never leave the premises. Bad idea.

It’s always important to attend industry networking events at other properties. There are two good reasons. First, see what cool things other venues are doing. Second, meet other industry people and develop personal relationships.

Today’s competitor may be your next employer, should you get laid off. Also, vendors do business in many places. They could be the source of your next job opening.

Vendors like to brag about their relationships with ‘big name businesses.’ They name drop an event at the Four Seasons or the Ritz Carlton (went out of business at Lake Las Vegas – sold to Ravella Hotel). 

The fact is, too often, vendors don’t have a relationship with ‘the venue,’ they have a relationship with ‘one person at the venue.’

So the question becomes: If that venue contact is transferred or laid off, how solid is the relationship, in real terms?

Relationship building means more than attending industry organization meetings. It means becoming familiar with everyone in a department. It means having friendly relationships with competitors.

There is nothing more sad than seeing a member of organization who has been MIA for a year, suddenly show up after he or she has been laid off. It’s a little late, at that point.

Networking should not be situational or calendar-based. It should be part of everyone’s personal and business marketing plan.

The value of real interpersonal business relationships is priceless.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog