Last month I posted an honest and pointed blog about haggling with vendors on pricing, in response to being so frequently asked if I negotiate. Today I’m going to address another frequent situation – being approached by vendors.
I can’t speak for all wedding planners, just myself, but I receive anywhere from 5-10 emails a week from vendors I’ve never worked with, wanting to introduce themselves to me and find out how to get on my “preferred vendor” list. If you want to work with an event planner, here are a few tips I offer you:
- Getting added to an event planner’s trusted circle isn’t an automatic thing. For me, I don’t recommend any vendor I (or a close fellow planner) haven’t personally worked with before.
- If you want me to invest in a relationship with you, then you’ve got to invest a few minutes learning about my company. Look through the website, check out the FB page, get a feel for my style and personality. Do you think my client is your client? If not, don’t approach me. Contrary to popular belief, MORE clients are not better than the RIGHT clients for you.
- If you’re going to send me a template email message that’s been copy and pasted, really you should direct it to me. You know, “Dear Regina”. More than half of the emails I receive are directed to absolutely no one, or to “To Who It May Concern”. Really? Because spend one second on my website and you can see the names of every person in my company.
- Don’t just send generic emails with pictures of your work, and that’s it. No copy, no letter. A picture does not replace human interaction through words. Communication, people – must be a dying art.
- Now that you know you’re one of seven photographers to reach out to me this month, realize you’ve got to do or say something to set yourself apart. Ask to get together in person, and be willing to come to my studio.
- For me, it’s not about commission. I don’t take kickbacks, or any percentage of the vendor fees. So don’t think that will “seal the deal” with me.
- Be positive. Don’t talk down your competitors. Don’t tell me why you are SO much better than this guy and this guy. Don’t talk down a certain kind of couple or bride. i.e. “I can’t stand budget brides anymore!” OK, well sometimes I work with budget brides. Tell me why YOU are awesome, why you are different, why you think our clients are the same, why we will complement each other. Competition is an awesome thing; it makes us better at our craft. So stay positive.
- Understand what a wedding planner does. Know the difference between a Day of Coordinator and a Wedding Planner, and what that means for your client. That may also change the way you interact with your client, and who will be your main point of contact. Really understand the difference here, and if you don’t, ask me.
- Realize I am not Preston Bailey. I am not David Tutera. I am not planning 300 weddings a year. In fact, I’d bet some good money the majority of event planners on Long Island are not planning that many events. Therefore, establishing a relationship with an event planner DOES NOT automatically mean you’ll be getting 10 new clients a month. Have realistic expectations, and talk it through with me in advance. This is an investment in a relationship, as much as in your business.
- Follow up. After we’ve met and had a great conversation, stay in touch. Make a phone call, mail a note. Comment on my FB page, retweet one of my tweets. Forward me an article you wrote, and tell me why you think I’d be interested in it. Keep us in mind if any of your clients may be in need of our services.
For me, it takes more than a generic email to be added to my “preferred vendor” list. In fact, if a planner adds you to his or her list just because you asked, I’d be weary and cautious. Be you, be awesome, be genuine, be consistent, and most importantly, be passionate about your work and your clients.