Business

5 Reasons Potential Clients Ghost You

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark

No one likes being ghosted, and it can be extremely frustrating when you’ve done all you can to communicate with a potential client only to hear crickets. The most common reaction to ghosting in the wedding industry is to assume it’s all about cost and to lower your prices. While it sometimes is about money, there are other reasons that cause people to avoid telling you no:


1. You’re sending your pricing right away.

Sticker shock is real, and if you’re one of the wedding pros they’re considering at the beginning of their planning process (namely planners, venues, or photographers), it is likely that the budget they have in their mind is not based in reality whatsoever.

People hear that the average wedding in the US is around $30k, they watch the “reality” wedding TV shows that display costs on the bottom of the screen without noting which items or services were comped or discounted by the vendors in exchange for publicity, they find creative inspiration on wedding blogs and magazines and don’t know that they will have to pay triple to make that design happen because they are getting married in a union town, and when they ask their friend what they spent on a given item, the friend feels uncomfortable sharing real numbers, so they tell a little white lie to seem smart and like they got a deal.

Your potential clients likely don’t know what real weddings cost because they have never gotten married before. Your primary role at this point in the process is to educate them in a way that shows your value.

Also, if you are sending prices right away, you’re not educating yourself on what their wedding will actually require from you. On top of that, you’re branding yourself as cookie cutter because you’re essentially saying “we only do these types of weddings, so we know how much to charge without talking to you.” Lose-lose.

If you’re still sending pricing right away, I’d encourage you to break this bad business habit.


2. You’re sending too much info too soon.

I’ve spent years doing research on how couples and their families truly approach their wedding spending and as a result developed WedType, a scientifically-based wedding buyer behavior model. Of the four types of wedding consumers (Seekers, Drivers, Researchers, and Lovers), Researchers are the ones who will read everything. For them, when it comes to information, more is better. For the other three types, more is too much.

While you won’t know right off the bat which WedType you’re dealing with, if you’re sending every possible piece of information, if you’re counting on people to read through all of your website and move on the exact right path through your marketing funnel, if you’re asking them to take a quiz or fill out a multi-page questionnaire before you even talk to them, you will overwhelm the majority of your potential clients.

When people feel overwhelmed, they subconsciously associate that feeling with you and your brand. This means that they may love your work but, for some reason they can’t quite put their finger on, feel like you would be burdensome/tiring/a drag to work with.


3. You’re being a little TOO efficient.

No one likes to feel like a number. No one likes to feel like a checkmark on your to-do list. And no one wants to feel like their wedding is one of 2.2 million a year and therefore not all that unique.

Automated replies have their place, but you probably don’t need to use them. Here’s some tough love: automated and canned replies may help you feel more organized and efficient behind the scenes, but they make you look cold and uncaring.

I’m willing to bet that when you wrote out your core values and mission statement for your business and marketing plans, “cold” and “uncaring” were not traits you included as wanting to be known as.

If you’re in the luxury space, this is especially true. High end means high touch. You get to charge more because you have to hold their hand through more of the process.

People almost always hire the person who makes them feel the best from the very beginning of the process. Be the person who’s willing to sacrifice a little bit of efficiency in order to make people feel truly valued, heard, and connected.


4. You’re not scheduling a followup BEFORE you send the proposal.

If you want to close the sale faster, or get to a firm “yes” or “no” answer more quickly, schedule a 10 minute call for a couple days after you send the proposal to discuss it and answer any questions they may have.

This is a decades-old tactic that is used by sales people all over the world because it works. Here’s a very simplified example of one of the ways it could play out:

Monday AM: You receive an inquiry via your website. Yay! You reply right away that you’d love to chat for 10 minutes to learn more about them and their wedding.

Monday PM: They’re available for a call after they get off work, so at 6 pm their time, you have a quick call. Towards the end, you say, “Congratulations again! I love your ideas! I’m going to send you a customized proposal by Wednesday. I want you to take a day or so to bounce it off your friends and family and get their feedback, then on Friday I’d love to chat with you to go over it and answer any questions you may have. What time works best for you this Friday for a quick 10 minute call?”

Wednesday: Send the proposal with a reminder to bounce it off their friends and family.

Friday: On your 10 minute call answer any questions they may have. Sell your value as you go through it.

The idea that if people want you they will find a way to pay for it is true to a point. Money doesn’t grow on trees and you may just be flat out of their budget even if they decide to scale back in other areas. If this is the case, tell them that you understand (because you do, because you also do not have an unlimited bank account), and that you’d love to refer them to some wedding pros who may be more in line with their budget. While you may not get the sale, you’re raising the bar for the industry by referring them to talented people rather than charlatans who are only good at Instagram.

You’ll want to tell them 10 minutes for these first phone calls because it is too early in the process for them to feel comfortable committing to a longer period of time. Typically once they’re on the phone, they’ll want to speak longer, but showing them up front that you are respectful of their time and schedule is important.

A quick note on telling them to bounce it off their family and friends: millennials and Gen Z grew up making decisions in groups thanks to a change in the educational system in the 1980’s. Giving them space to solicit feedback from people they trust allows them to feel more comfortable with you and not pressured to make a decision they may end up regretting. Their putting a priority on their college roommate’s opinion may feel like a slap in the face to you, the actual expert, but building trust with your potential client is the most important factor here.


5. No one likes being the bearer of bad news.

Everyone is human and no one wants the icky feeling that comes with letting someone else down. Even if you have an “it’s just business” mindset, your potential clients may still feel terrible telling you they’re going with someone else. Add to this the fact that they may have interviewed a dozen other wedding professionals in your category and it’s easy to understand how telling a dozen people “no” could put a huge damper on their day.

One way to combat this is to tell them that if you’re not the right fit, you’re happy to recommend someone else who may be better suited for them. This shows that you genuinely care about them having the best wedding, even if they don’t end up booking you. Generosity wins.

Ghosting is not a new phenomenon. All ages do it, and blaming it just on millennials or Gen Z is lazy thinking and a way to avoid doing the work of examining where you could be running your business better.


Originally published December 2018

13 Books Every Creative Entrepreneur Should Read

And how you can find time to read more.

Two book tables at my local library. Some intern deserves a raise.

Two book tables at my local library. Some intern deserves a raise.

It’s been said that leaders are readers, but in truth, great leaders are voracious readers. Reading gives you a competitive advantage, plain and simple.

The two biggest hurdles that people tell me they deal with when it comes to reading are finding time to do so and the price tag that reading a lot can bring with it.

Let’s tackle the time issue first: if you read 20 pages a day, you’ll read around 20 books a year.

In case you think that still isn’t a doable goal, 15 minutes a day is 91 hours per year. Most people spend at least two hours a day scrolling social media – 30 days a year. An entire month! You have more time than you think.

Second, you can cut down on the cost of buying books by signing up for a good, old-fashioned library card.

I have a private list on Amazon called “library” and when a book is recommended to me or I come across one I want to read, I add it to that list. Then, the next time I’m at the library, it’s easy to pull up on my phone and see the list of books I didn’t want to forget about.

While I have created the habit of always checking the library first, if they don’t have the book, I buy it. If it’s a book I want to read again, I buy it. If I know the author, I buy it. Also, almost all libraries these days have the option to download the book to an ebook or audiobook app (like Libby) if you prefer to read books digitally.

I am a believer that the ideas contained within the pages of a book are what truly matter, and that reading a book with paper pages vs digital is simply a matter of preference. I will say though that when kids see me reading on a device, they tend to assume I’m on social media or checking email. Since the importance of reading is something that is both taught and caught, reading physical books while I’m at home is a priority for me in this season of my life. Libraries make this more doable and more affordable.

A Splendid tip: Designate a special shelf or space in your home for everyone’s library books to go. This way you aren’t digging books out from underneath your kids’ beds or searching for where you misplaced them once it’s time to turn them back in.

Below are some of my favorite books related to owning and running a business. I am sure there are several I loved that I am forgetting about at the moment. There are also many I read that are popular but that I felt “meh” about so they’re not listed here.

Also, these are mostly business books or non-fiction, but I make a point to read fiction and poetry as well. I find that well-written fiction gets my creative juices flowing in a way nothing else does. I often end a fictional story that has nothing to do with business brimming with new ideas for my company. If you’re feeling stuck, a cup of chamomile tea and a good fiction book may help you.

13 Books Every Creative Entrepreneur Should Read


1) On public speaking:
Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun

(I’ve given this book as a gift so many times. It’s the best one on the subject, hands down.)

2) On entrepreneurship: The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

(One of my favorite business quotes comes from this book: “As a startup CEO, I slept like a baby. I woke up every two hours and cried.”)

3) On business strategy: Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Reneé Mauborgne

4) On teams: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

5) On selling a service: You Can’t Teach Hungry: Creating the Multimillion Dollar Law Firm by John Morgan

(If you can read past the attorney-specific advice, there is plenty in here for people who sell creative and intellectual ideas rather than tangible products.)

6) On invisible affluence: The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko

7) On communication: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson

(I also have this as an audio book and re-listen to it once a year.)

8) On business systems: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber

9) On business management: Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman

10) On leadership: Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization by John Wooden

11) On getting out of your own way: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

12) On decision making: Left Brain, Right Stuff: How Leaders Make Winning Decisions by Phil Rosenzweig

13) On focusing your mind: 10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program for Winning Before the Game Begins by Dr. Jason Selk

(I started using methods from this book several years ago while preparing for my speaking engagements and it changed everything for the better, immediately. The author has since released another book called Executive Toughness: The Mental Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance.)


Original post published October 2018

The Frienemy Market

You can’t do great work if you’re being pulled down.

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark


In my travels as a speaker and wedding business consultant, I've found that local wedding markets can be described in one of two ways:

  1. A market where some groups of wedding pros are truly friends with each other, seek to collaborate, and let the other groups live and let live

  2. A frienemy market

A frienemy market is exactly what it sounds like: most of the wedding professionals pretend to like each other, but in actuality can't stand one another. "I love your idea!" they'll crow, with their fingers crossed behind their back. They never share real ideas for fear that you'll steal them, even if you've never stolen anything in your life. They'll dismiss your accomplishments as no big deal, even if they are a very big deal and will try to guilt-trip you into thinking that you shouldn't be so proud of whatever it is you may be celebrating.

As a professional speaker, it's pretty easy to tell which markets are which. During the conference cocktail hour in both types of markets everyone is best friends, posing for Instagram, and making small talk about each other's kids. During the Q+A sessions however, people in a frienemy market will ask very few questions but deluge the speaker with questions via email afterward. When other speakers and I exchange notes, the markets this happens in are always the same.

It's also worth noting that the markets with the least creative ideas, the least innovation, who harp the most about the “good old days” – but who also have the most ego – are frienemy markets.

Frienemy markets produce mediocrity. If you're in a market like this, develop some Teflon-like skin and do whatever you can to not get sucked into the trap. You can't do great work if you're being pulled back down with every decision you make.


Originally published July 2012