Posts filed under ‘Easy & Inexpensive Tips’

Fostering Relationships (Inexpensive Ways to Increase Sales)

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Creative Commons License

This week we are discussing inexpensive ways to increase sales. Yesterday’s post was about networking and how to rethink your networking strategy.  Today, we’re discussing how to foster those relationships.  If referrals are an important part of your sales plan, you must actively invest your time to nurture the source of those referrals.

How do you thank the people that refer you business?  Do you hand write them a note?  To me, this is a minimum requirement.  But why not take it a step further?

Make it public

A public acknowledgment of a vendor who passes business to you is a great way to give them a loud shout-out.  This gives them a little exposure in a public forum while showing others that you value referrals.  You can do this by posting something on your blog, or sending out a tweet on Twitter.

Non-contingent Thank Yous

Thank yous should be made to referrers regardless of whether the prospect ultimately does business with you or not.  You should show appreciation regardless of the end result.  It’s important to acknowledge a person’s thoughtfulness regardless of sale or no-sale.  This appreciation will result in continued referrals… and those referrals are bound to pan out.

Send a little something-something

I’m a stationery designer, so when someone refers business to mmm… paper I like to send some little paper goodie.  It’s a low cost way of saying, “I really and truly appreciate your good word about my business.”

Return the favor

If someone is good at referring you business, you should return the favor.  Sometimes, the match between client and referral doesn’t make itself immediately available.  But, remember to keep that person in mind.  They’ll appreciate the favor!  If the relationship of referral only goes one way, it is much like unrequited love and that love will soon fade.

Spend some time with them

If someone refers a lot of business to you, and you don’t feel that you’ve had an opportunity to return the favor, maybe you don’t know that person well enough.  Take the time to take them out to coffee and find out more about them.  Ask them how you can help their business.

Have a vendor and client appreciation event

This takes a little more financial investment (not the least costly of the “inexpensive ideas” of this week)… but for a few hundred dollars you can put together some bites and sips to say thank you to those that appreciate your business.  An open house at your office can be a great opportunity to thank vendors and clients who have referred business to you and it can be a great opportunity to share with them a little more about your business.  And, if you’re like me, wine and cheese is an easy way to my heart!

How do YOU show the love?

I’d love to know how YOU foster your relationships with other wedding vendors and clients.  How do you show appreciation for referred business?  (Post a comment below!)

July 14, 2009 at 6:00 am 2 comments

Networking (and other Inexpensive Ways to Increase your Sales)

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In 2009, businesses have to work smarter and harder to achieve revenue.  People are still getting married, but they are spending less on their wedding.  So, what this means for us wedding professionals is that we have to book more jobs than in previous years.  (Oh boy!  How do I do this?)  What I see happening is that small business owners have more time and less money these days – not the most favorable of things.

“I’ve got more time, but less money these days.”
So, how do we turn this into an opportunity?

This week, I am going to focus on 4 things you can do to promote your business that are inexpensive and sometimes free.  They usually require an investment of your time.  This isn’t new information to many of you, but I’m hoping to give you a new spin on these tried-n-true tips.  Today’s tip is to: Maximize your Networking

Call another wedding professional and have a cup of coffee

A few years ago, after tracking my sales results, I determined that a growing percentage of my sales were coming from vendor referrals.  In setting my forecast for the upcoming year, I wanted to increase that number.  I knew that simply increasing that number in theory was great, but that I needed to have a plan to actually achieve results.  I committed myself to meeting with one person in my industry every two weeks.  And, so began my mmm… paper Seattle vendor tour.  And, I met some GREAT people!

What I started to see was that not only did people learn about my business, but more importantly I learned about their business.  I learned what THEIR client was all about.  I went in thinking that I would sell them on my business, but learned that it was more about finding a match in our clientele and finding a connection between their business and my business.  I was further able to define my niche and I was further able to provide them value for their business.  And, this in turn led to quality client referrals.

So, call someone up and ask them to meet up for a cup of coffee.  Learn about them, learn about their business.  Ask how you can help them. By sincerely extending yourself to them, they will naturally extend themselves to you.

Organize a casual mixer

When I moved to Seattle, I met with a wedding planner who I fell in love with.  She and I became close friends.  For months, we talked about putting together a gathering of wedding professionals.  Months turned into years.  I finally got my act together and started hosting Tuesday Toast.  Tuesday Toast is a very casual and informal cocktail hour that takes place monthly – on a Tuesday.  Barbie Hull has joined forces with me on this and helped take it to great lengths.  It’s so fun to get together with wedding folk every month to talk shop and toast the industry.  I meet new people and catch up with old friends.  And, it’s EASY to do.  Set up an evite and mail it off to your wedding peeps, start a facebook group, or a meetup group.

Expand your network

It’s easy to get comfortable.  I go to networking things and end up talking to all my favorite people that I know so well.  The problem with that can be that I’m not reaching out and meeting anyone new.  This can happen at wedding industry events (such as Tuesday Toast) or even on a more general level… not branching out beyond the wedding industry.

So, reach out to someone outside of the wedding industry.  Reach out to someone who does something completely different than you.  I myself don’t do graphic design in my wedding invitation business, so I love to have great designers to whom I can refer. If you are a photographer, why not reach out to someone who solely does baby portraits?  If you are a florist, why not reach out to the flower shop down the street that doesn’t do weddings?  If you are wedding planner, why not reach out to a corporate event planner?  These are great partners to have as they can refer business to someone who is an expert in something different that what they do.

Think outside the box

You’ve heard it all before… network, network, network.  This is nothing new.  But, rethink the way you network.  Rethink your strategy.  Rethink the way you are meeting people who can send business your way.  Take the time that you have now to invest in relationships.  These relationships are worth their weight in gold!

July 13, 2009 at 6:00 am 4 comments

Cost Cutting Thursday!

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Creative Commons License

Every Thursday, we introduce FIVE COST CUTTING TIPS.  Here are our favorites for the week:

  1. Cut your phone bill (landline)
    If you have a landline, there are many options out there for less expensive phone service.  It is a very competitive market so shop around for the best rates.  If you have a home office, you can get a bundled rate of internet, cable, and phone where the phone portion is very inexpensive.  Vonage also offers a great deal for internet-based phone service for $25/month of unlimited calls.
  2. Cut your taxes
    If you did your own taxes and broke your neck to get them in by midnight last night, you probably told yourself you’d never do it again.  So don’t.  Chances are that there are tax savings that you might not be maximizing.  Hire a tax accountant.  The cost outlay is minimal compared to the taxes he or she could be saving you.
  3. Share your office space
    If you have an office, you can cut some of your cost by sharing it with another wedding professional.  If business is slower than you’d like (given the recent economy), you may not be maximizing it’s use.  Ask people in the industry to see if they are interested in getting out of the home office and into an “outside office” 2-3 days/week .
  4. Stop auto-pay on your credit cards
    It’s so convenient to have charges automatically drawn from your credit cards each month, but do you remember everything that is being charged every month?  And, do you maximize that service?  Last year, I was paying $15 for an online service.  At first, I was very diligent about maximizing its use.  After time, I got busy and forgot about it.  But, they didn’t forget to charge me the $15 every month.  Cancel auto-pay on anything you are not using.
  5. Are you maximizing the dues on organizations?
    I think belonging to organizations is very important part of our learning and networking in this industry, so do not cut out this cost to simply save money.  However, are you paying for dues on organizations to which you don’t participate?  Similar to the auto-pay, you may be paying dues monthly (or weekly) to a group that you do not attend meetings or functions.  If you feel your active participation in the group is simply on hiatus, then continue to be a member (and pay your dues).  But, if you seriously can’t say you are committed to the organization, then rethink the cost you are putting into it.

Do you have cost cutting tips for your fellow wedding professionals? If so, please email them to SageWeddingPros@gmail.com.

April 16, 2009 at 6:23 am 2 comments

Cost Cutting Thursday!

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Creative Commons License

Every Thursday, we introduce FIVE COST CUTTING TIPS.  Here are our favorites for the week:

  1. Apply for Credit Terms with your vendors
    If you have solid purchasing history and good payment record with your vendors, you can ask for credit terms.  They’ll give you an application to fill out.  Typically you’ll be put on 2/10 net 30.  This means that instead of paying at the time of order, or receipt of goods, you’ll have 30 days to pay your invoice.  However, if you pay within the 10 days you’ll receive a 2% discount on purchases.  This 2% can add up over time and you may not be maximizing on it.
  2. Buy wholesale
    There are some things you may already be purchasing wholesale especially if you carry inventory for a product related business (like wedding invites).  However, there is a world of wholesale that is available that most people aren’t maximizing.  Rogie Faber, Director of Internet Operations for Vogue Fabrics, recently shared with me, “I am always surprised at how many event planners and linen companies come to us for wholesale fabrics to make table linens & chair covers in off-beat styles or colors, tulle and netting for pew swags, muslin for custom painted aisle runners with the couples name and wedding date, etc.  They order directly from our Wholesale Fabrics section on our site. ”  You can google “wholesale ______” (anything) and are sure to come up with great sources for anything needed for your wedding business.
  3. Use Craig’s List
    A couple years ago my laptop needed an upgrade.  I spent over $200 at a boutique repair shop adding more memory and debugging it.  Recently, my husband went on to Craig’s List found a young man doing upgrades for $30 as a side-gig.  And, his computer runs as great as mine!  In this economy, you are sure to find a lot of people selling great services at a discount.  Craig’s List is the place for hidden talent at discounted rates.
  4. Company Liquidations
    You can find great office equipment at company liquidations.  Either these companies have gone out of business, or they are simply upgrading their assets.  You can typically find these on Craig’s List or by googling “company liquidation sale”.  Some companies are constantly upgrading their equipment and have warehouses of office goods.  Here, in Seattle, Boeing has a pretty amazing warehouse of desks, office chairs, filing cabinets, etc.
  5. Get a Costco Membership
    Costco has a great corporate membership that gives you really great benefits, in addition to their low pricing on all products.  The savings in office supplies alone is well worth this membership.

Do you have great cost-cutting tips? Email them to us at SageWeddingPros-at-gmail.com.

April 9, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Cost Cutting Thursday!

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Every Thursday, we introduce FIVE COST CUTTING TIPS.  This week, we provide you with cost cutting tips in relation to your postage and shipping.

Here are our favorites for the week:

  1. Recycled boxes
    If you ship product, shipping materials can get costly.  Go onto Craig’s List and you are sure to find boxes for sale at a discount or free.  Often times, these boxes have never been used, or are slightly weathered.
  2. Shipping rates
    Typically the cost of shipping to a client is passed on to them.  However, keeping this cost low is important – particularly when consumer spending is down.  Shop around for shipping rates.  The lowest rates are usually available from US Post OfficeUPS and Fedex charge more, but offer some more guarantees.  With my business, I send “lower importance” (easily replaceable items) using USPS and “higher importance” items with Fedex.
  3. Size of the box
    The size of the box can make or break huge differences in pricing.  With Fedex, once you get into the “jumbo box” category the pricing almost doubles.  Investigate how you can package your box in a tighter and smaller container.
  4. Flat mailer vs. hard mailer
    I mail things to clients using “hard pack” envelopes.  I love them because they keep samples free from folding.  However, the difference between mailing these and a “soft” envelope is ~$1-2/item.  When you’re sending 100’s of things in a year, this adds up.  Look into the USPS website and determine which options make the most sense for what you are sending, and how you can cut some of your mailing expenses.
  5. Buy “forever stamps”
    In the last couple years, the USPS has offered a “forever stamp”.  These are stamps that can be used forever – even after the postage rate has increased (which is typically 1-3 cents per year).  Stock up on these stamps (you can buy rolls of 100) and you could save a significant amount on postage from year to year.

Have some good cost cutters to share with us? Email SageWeddingPros-at-gmail.com with your tips!

April 2, 2009 at 6:00 am 1 comment

Cost Cutting Thursday!

Every Thursday, we introduce FIVE COST CUTTING TIPS.  Here are our favorites for the week:

  1. Reduce your Credit Card Interest Rates Just like with personal credit cards, your business credit cards could be carrying a hefty interest rate.  One of my favorite blogs in personal finance is The Simple Dollar.  Trent recently posted some great steps to reduce your interest rate on your credit card(s).  He describes how to call the credit card companies and ask for a lower rate.
  2. Is your advertising paying for itself (and then some)? Last week, we discussed the analysis of your marketing plan.  If you don’t already, ask your clients how they found you.  Take a look at how much you spend on advertising and compare that with the list of “where clients are coming from” and how much they spend on your services.  Does it justify the price you are paying for the ad?  Over time, you’ll be able to determine if one ad is worth its cost or not.  Often times, people are paying for ads that aren’t yielding any returns.
  3. Look at your lifestyle expenses Being in the wedding industry warrants that we be involved in a number of social and networking events.  It’s part of our job to meet and greet… and spend money on dinners, and drinks, and coffees, and treats.  And, while these expenses are tax-deductible, it is still money out the door.  Now, because I know that a good portion of my clients are from referrals, I find these expenses to be a valid expense.  But, it’s important to put together a spending plan and stick to it.  Pick and choose which events are the most wise “networking investment”.
  4. Printer ink is expensive You are spending a lot on your printer ink. Cartridges run $20-30 in most cases (and that is just for the cheap inkjet.)  If you are an organizational nut like I am, you probably do a lot of printing: client info, questionnaires, email, etc. Most of the “office printing” does not need a high-quality print.  I have a high-quality printer that I use for client marketing materials.  And, I have the “office stuff” printer for which I use recycled cartridges.  Cartridge World will refill your cartridges: good for your wallet, good for the environment.
  5. Watch your gas mileage Many of us drive all over the city to meet with clients.  We can rack up 100 miles in just one day driving in several directions.  This is affecting your gas expenses (and the wear and tear on your car).  Last Friday, Kelly Simants had a great tip in time management: plan out your week and schedule your meetings on one or two days of the week. This can also help how much you are spending on gas.  Once you are out of your house or office, maximize the time on the road and get all of your meetings and errands out of the way.

We’d love to know what YOU do to cut costs.  Send us your tips by emailing SageWeddingPros-at-gmail.com!

March 26, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Shhhh… secrets of selling…

Today, we are going to break down easy and inexpensive things you can do to turn an inquiry or appointment into a sale.

Continue Reading March 17, 2009 at 5:28 pm 3 comments


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