Top 10 Takeaways from Engage!19 Nizuc - Part Two

Hopefully you read the post from last week. If not, start here.

Otherwise, keep on reading for #s 6-10 of my Engage!19 Nizuc Top 10 Takeaways.

1. Learn from the best teachers in other fields
Pay attention to the people paying attention to you
Generalists Fail
Ask the right questions to get the best answers
You're only as good as what your next client says

Learn from the best teachers in other fields
At Engage! Nizuc I spoke at a breakout session about how to stand out in a crowded marketplace. I focused on the top 11 mistakes you’re probably making and 3 strategies to use instead. (If you missed the talk and want more info, hit me up and I’ll give you the “teachers notes” version so you can get a little insight.)
If I was going to give a talk about how to stand out I knew I had to make my own talk set itself apart from all the others attendees had already heard that week.

So, I did what I love to do most.
I took information from OUTSIDE the wedding industry and applied it in my own way to the problems and challenges y’all are facing. 
They’re research-backed best-practices we know work for successful companies – but no one is talking about them in the wedding industry. Just me (and maybe a handful of others). And that makes me stand out.
You all read my newsletters because you get a different perspective from me than from others in the industry, right? 
Who else can you learn from that others aren’t? Who else is providing fresh ideas for you to consider that aren’t being taught elsewhere in the wedding industry? What workshops and conferences can you attend NOT related to weddings? What podcasts can you listen to or books can you read that have nothing to do with the creative fields?
If you want to stand out in a crowded marketplace stop getting your ideas from the same source as your competitors and start learning and doing things no one else is. This…this is how you stand out. 
To get different results you have to actually be different – and you do that by doing things differently. 

Pay attention to the people paying attention to you
It’s too easy to get caught up with the wrong people. Last week we talked one kind of “wrong” person for you: the vampires that suck every ounce of energy from you. We also talked about the people who bring drama to your life. Dump those peeps immediately – or sooner.
But there’s another kind of person who you should avoid spending too much time on. It’s the one who doesn’t pay any attention to you. 
Most of us have experienced this in our love lives. Ah, yes, the awful tragedy of the unrequited lover. The guy or gal who we’re infatuated with but doesn’t even know our name?
Yeah, see here’s the thing. When you left school you didn’t leave behind your irrational desire to obsess over someone who wasn’t into you – or ever likely would be.
Now, that you’re out of school and maybe even married, you’ve started focusing on working with planners or at venues you shouldn’t be so into.
I see this all the time with clients. The most common reason it’s not a good fit is the person you’re chasing already has a lot of people they’re working with who can do pretty much the exact same thing as you. There’s risk in switching from their tried-and-true vendor list.
Another reason to take a pass is they don’t share the same style as you. This one seems like a no-brainer but it’s so often overlooked I had to bring it up. Look at their body of work and see if it overlaps. 

It may be a tough relationship to develop if you don’t service the same geographical area. Or if you don’t have a portfolio of work that shares the same client look. Or levels of service. Or kinds of budgets. Or or or…
My advice? Stop paying attention to people who will never be or you’ll struggle to make your people.

Instead, look around at what’s already working. Who’s interested in working with you? Who’s giving you referrals? Who’s commenting and DMing you on IG? Who’s inviting you to networking events or accountability groups? 
Focus on these people and your life will be happier and your business will be more successful.

Generalists Fail
Yep, this was a hard one for me because I’ve always been a generalist. 
When I was in high school, I lettered nine times but never made an all-state team in single sport. I attended a liberal arts college and earned a double-degree. I’ve learned three years’ worth of French, Spanish and even Latin, but can’t speak any of them fluently. I’ve managed restaurants, event teams, lodging operations, and floral and décor companies.
So, when I started my consulting practice it was only natural that I was going to be all things to all people. I mean, if someone wanted to hire me and I knew I could help them I said yes! Sure, I had event companies who hired me, but I also picked up a hat company as a client and even led business development for a tap dance company. 
After a while, though, I stopped trying to be all things to all people and started trying to do one thing better than everyone else. 
I picked sales coaching for wedding pros because I’ve obsessed about making more money for event companies for over a dozen years. It also combined all my passions – sales, teaching, psychology, writing, persuasion, rhetoric, economics and marketing – into a single area. 
My sister (thanks, Liza!!!) is the one who pointed out that I’ve been developing related skillsets my whole life. Instead of spreading myself out, I’ve stacked my skills – and now you get to deepen your understanding of how to book more business. 
You’re going to hear more about skill stacking from me in the coming months. In fact, you already do, I just haven’t told you about it.
If you want to make more money for your wedding business stop trying to be good at a bunch of unrelated things. Decide what you need to be best at for your company to succeed and identify the skills you need to learn to get great at it.
If you’re not bringing in the kind of clients you want and converting at really high rates, well, welcome to the club. Even the big dogs on the who’s who lists are looking for more. I know, because many of them call me for help.
And I’ll tell you: If the best in the business are looking to get better with what they’re already the best at, you better double up on your own efforts if you want a share of their market.

Ask the right questions to get the best answers
The three most important words in the English language?
I. Don’t. Know.
None of us are born knowing everything. If we want to get where we want to go we’ll get there a lot sooner if we ask for help along the way. 
But here’s the hard thing – and it’s a little unfair that the world works like this: You’ve got to know enough about what you don’t know in order to get good information. 
At the very least, you have to share with people something about what you want before you ask the question in the first place. 
For example, you can’t just ask someone, “What’s the best restaurant in town?” I mean, you could, but you won’t get the best answer to your question. 
If you know you don’t want Italian because of the pasta and you just ate Asian the night before, you could ask, “Aside from Asian and Italian, what’s the best place for me to eat tonight?”
Even better is for you to provide some criteria for what makes a great place for YOU to dine. So it would look something like this: “I’m looking for a great place to take my wife tonight. We’re in the mood for something with incredible views from a heated patio with attentive-but-not-hovering service. Oh, and pass on Asian and Italian because we just had each recently. Any ideas?”

What’s the point of this one, you ask? I hear a lot of wedding pros asking pretty general questions and therefore getting pretty bad information.
“What should I charge for my services?”
What market are you in? What’s your current conversion rate? How many dates do you have booked for next year? Where are you at compared to this time last year? What are your financial goals? How many dates do you want to fill each year? When was the last time you raised rates and how did it go? 
“Who do you recommend for a rebrand?”
What do you need rebranded? Are you looking to tweak or overhaul? Do you want to focus on visual or messaging? What are your goals? How fast do you need to see the results? What do you want to spend? How do you work best with collaborations? Do you want a leader or a partner?
“What’s the best way to follow up with someone?”
When are you following up? Are you setting next activities and they’ve ghosted or are you not setting next activities and you’re guessing? How long till they’re looking to make their decision? Who all is involved in the decision? Where did you last leave it? 
“What’s a good workshop or conference to attend?”
What areas of your business need the most help? How much do you want to spend? How much time do you want to devote? Do you learn best in-person or can you do so in a different way? Do you need technical training or business help? Would you be better off doing coaching or creating better workflows instead of attending another workshop?
You get the picture. I’ve written a lot recently (October 2019) about finding the right person to provide advice and guide you where you want to go. This 9th lesson learned at Engage! is an off-shoot.
So, before you blindly follow someone’s suggestions, make 1,000% sure you’ve laid out very clearly what you want to see accomplished. Because if you get stuck spending time and money on a bad recommendation you only have yourself to blame.

You're only as good as what your next client says
I’ve heard it said before, “You’re only as good as your last event.” 
Hmmmmm. Maybe.
But probably not. Here’s why: I can tell you that if you booked my services to guide your business to make more money you’d want to feel reassured my prior clients had seen success through my coaching. 
But once we started working together you’d only care how much success YOU were seeing. 
Your clients are the same. They feel less risk because you’ve produced great work in the past, for other couples. But that only serves to make them feel more confident in choosing you for their wedding day. 
If you don’t come through for them they won’t care about what you did for someone else last month or last year. They hired you to be great for them.

And you signed up to be their service provider because you felt they’d be best served by you – and not someone else.
So act like it’s crucial to your business. Treat this current couple like they’re the only ones you need to impress. As far as they’re concerned that’s exactly what’s happening. You may have 50 clients next year, but they have only one wedding.
What now?
If you made it this far in the posts from last week and today, congratulations. You’re committed to making yourself better. You know you don’t know everything and you’re willing to accept advice from someone who’s climbed the mountain (many times) and guided (hundreds of) others to the top of what stands before you.
2020 has all the potential in the world for you. Like every other year, it has the potential to be the best year – or the worst year – of your professional life. 
It’s up to you. What are you going to do with it?


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