Featured On the Team Flower Podcast

Hey florist friends!

I was recently featured on the Team Flower Podcast, speaking with Kelly on the topic of “Leading Your Client",” along with many other things!

Featured on the Team Flower Podcast


A conversation with Kelly is always a sweet one. This was actually my first podcast interview, so I won’t lie - I was a little nervous! She put me at ease and we chatted through my story and how I developed and grew my company from the initial goal of booking 2 weddings and ending up booking 30 weddings within that very same year. I tell the story of how Stone House Creative came to be, and about how my business has evolved over the years (and how it will continue to evolve!) with encouragement for all of you to determine your own growth individually - don’t measure your goals and your needs based on some other company’s goals!

We also talked a little bit about the upcoming Team Flower Conference, next March in Waco, Texas. I’m so thrilled to be sharing the stage as a speaker at the conference, highlighting the importance of educating your client (I know, I know - I talk about this a lot - but it’s something that I’m just so passionate about!).

This conversation with Kelly isn’t just limited to flowers - if you’re in any segment of the wedding industry, you might find some helpful ideas for your own business. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Marketing is a Chain Link. Is Yours Broken?

Ugly websites. Broken contact form, or no contact info listed. Lack of detail. You didn't tell them where you're located. No clear call to action. 

Is Your Marketing Broken? Wedding Industry Marketing

Here's the thing, guys: You have to DO the WORK for your prospective clients. If your prospective client has to do any work to contact you/find out where you are/understand what services you provide aside from clicking a button and reading a little, then you have failed as a business owner. And I really do mean any work at all: if they have to read through your entire About and Contact pages because you don't have your city/area listed on your homepage and in your Instagram bio, then you have failed. If they have to dig and dig to find out what services you actually offer, then you have failed. If they have to do any research at all to find out why they would want to inquire with you, then YOU HAVE FAILED. 

I like to think of marketing as a chain made up of individual links. If one of those links is broken, then the entire chain is made useless. Such as: 
-a broken contact form
-no contact info listed
-outdated links or a broken link (ie. If your instagram bio doesn't have your website url)
-your Instagram feed is beautiful but your website portfolio is out of date, making a client question whether or not you're the same company
-outdated info on your online profiles with wedding listings like The Knot or WeddingWire

So here's your challenge for this week: Walk through every aspect of your marketing chain, from the perspective of a potential client. Are you making it easy for them to fall in love with you?  

Appearances Matter

We work in a luxury industry. After an officiant and their marriage license, a couple really doesn't need anything that we offer to actually get married. So, appearances matter! It's important to leverage your work, your style, and your personality to grow your business and take advantage of that first impression to get clients through your door.

Now, I want to start by saying that you don't need to be wearing designer clothing, or have perfect hair and makeup all the time, or anything at all like that. Rather, I think that we need to be conscious that the way we present ourselves (including our appearances but also the way we speak, the way we hold ourselves in any client interaction, etc) needs to fit with our brands.

I'm not even just talking about our physical appearances. Think about your studio, meeting space, your Instagram feed! If your ideal client is a major dog lover, then in order to connect with them, it would be a wise decision to pop a video of your cute pup into your stories now and again. If your ideal client is a wealthy professional who loves designer clothing, then your office should featured tasteful, streamlined furniture in an elegant colour scheme. Get what I'm saying? Of course you do. 

They don't actually NEED most of us for any part of their life. They just want us. Leverage that "want" into a booking by fitting the brand that you put forward, and attracting the client that you dream of.

Here's your challenge for the week: Spend some time brainstorming your ideal client. How old is he/she? What's his/her profession? What's his/her personality like, and what are his/her values? What are his/her needs (in relation to your services)and how are you uniquely positioned to fill those needs? What will his/her wedding be like? Simply google search "ideal client avatar" and you'll come up with a bunch of results to help you better picture this person. 

Some of you might be saying that anyone who wants to spend money is your ideal client. And for some of your businesses, that might be true. I'd still encourage you to dig a little deeper, though. When you are consistently booking your ideal clients, you'll find that you have very little frustration in your client dealings, and you'll be able to really just love your work more.

Now that you have this person in mind, how can you gear your "appearance" to best attract your ideal client?

Not Everyone is Cut Out to Run a Business, and That's Okay.

Everyone wants to own a business these days, and I certainly understand the appeal - scheduling freedom, no bosses, the list goes on. We see this a lot in the wedding industry. Like, A LOT. But here's the thing: not everyone is cut out to run a business, and that's okay. 

This post today is geared towards those of you who might need to reconsider you choice or desire to own a business. I want you to know that it's perfectly okay to change your mind, to acknowledge that your skill set doesn't line up with being a business owner (especially in the wedding industry, which is incredibly demanding!), and then gracefully walk away. 

I see this a lot with wedding planners. Doesn't it sort of seem like every spring, a whole host of freshly graduated young women all realize their life long dream has been to become a wedding planner? The romance! The prettiness of it all! I, too, was one of these people. 

But then reality hits: you find yourself in a highly saturated luxury market and it seems like the only thing you can do to stand out is to slash your prices (that's a whole other topic, but let me just briefly say: there is a time for lower than industry average pricing when you're just starting to with minimal experience, but you need to gradually increase those prices with every wedding that you book. Slashing your prices only does major damage to your industry as a whole, plus, you deserve to be paid for your work!). And after slugging stuff around for like 15 hours straight, in a dress, with a smile on your face, and probably in the hot sun, you realize that the job of a wedding planner is actually not really about the pretty. And it's actually pretty stressful. And there are a lot more personalities that you have to manage than you ever expected. And on top of all that, you realize that you haven't responded to those incredibly time-sensitive emails in 3 days, you haven't been able to stay on top of your appointment calendar, and you still haven't booked a meeting with that bakery for that client you keep forgetting about and the stress is building and building.

The logistics of running a business aren't that easy, and everyone has a different skill set. For some of us, getting down and dirty in the sun is incredibly rewarding but we can't keep up with the emails and the phone calls and the scheduling. And for those of you who resonate with that, you might just not be cut out to run a business. 

While you could spend a serious amount of time and money trying to get yourself organized and learn how to run your business, you might be better suited to work for someone else. There is absolutely NO shame in learning that you work best without the pressure of keeping the ship upright. You'll likely find that you enjoy your work so much more when you don't have to worry about keeping the mother of the bride happy or when you don't have the stress of all of those time sensitive emails on your mind. 

Maybe all that you want is to be happy in your work. If that's true, then I'll tell you this, friends: you're most likely going to be a lot happier being able to just work than have to run everything. 

So, is this you? Maybe it's time for a change. No matter what area of the wedding industry you're in, you have options. Photographer? Join an established photographer as an associate. Wedding planner? Almost every established planner in your city needs an assistant who they can trust wedding days to. Makeup artist? So many makeup businesses (especially mobile ones!) have a desire to grow their team in order to service a larger number of clients. It's all about finding the right fit for you.

Why It's Important to Celebrate Our Successes

Celebrating our successes is a surprisingly challenging thing to do, but I'm learning more and more how important it is for everyone, but particularly, for creative entrepreneurs like you and I. I recently wrote about this on my instagram, after receiving an award at the 2018 Team Flower Conference:

"Proud moment here :) Last week at the #teamflowerconference, I took part in the Designer of the Year challenge and I was awarded winner of the Mastery of Communication category. There were several different tasks that we had to complete (including a timed boutonniere race...talk about stress, ha!), and those of those tasks were an interview and a mock proposal. I was selected for this award because of the way that I was able to understand my "client" and communicate my ideas to her, as well as communicate my thoughts and ideas well in the interview. 

This was such an affirming moment for me. I've often thought that I may not be the best designer, but I'm a REALLY good business owner. I take really good care of my clients, and I always want to create something unique for them, so I really need to listen to them and then dream for them. Knowing now that other people in my industry also feel that I do a good job of this was so reassuring and reminded me of where I'm taking Stone House Creative. So thank you, @teamflower for such a life-giving experience which has filled me so, so much joy! (PS I don't know about other adults out there, but I feel like it's really hard to accept being proud of yourself because it feels very selfish and almost conceited. I'm trying to learn that it's okay to be proud.)"

 

I talked about this recently on the Team Flower blog, with the article below. I'm willing to bet that some of these thoughts resonate with you, not matter what segment of the wedding industry you work in.

 Super cute pic of me and my new flower friend,  Elizabeth,  at the Team Flower Conference. Photo by  Laura Foote Photography .

Super cute pic of me and my new flower friend, Elizabeth, at the Team Flower Conference. Photo by Laura Foote Photography.

Flower orders. Stem counts. Proposal writing. How much did I charge for that bridal bouquet again? Recipe writing. Figuring out how to make each wedding look different from the last one. How many stems of spray roses go into that arrangement? Delivery schedules. Taxes. Bridezillas. Momzillas. Right, I have to remember to update the website with that new offering. Oh, and call the wholesaler to see where that vase shipment is. Where did I leave my clippers?

The floral industry is so go-go-go (EDIT: THE WEDDING INDUSTRY IS SO GO-GO-GO, amiright??). I’ve never met a florist who hasn’t resisted the urge to laugh each time we are told, “it’s my dream to be a florist in retirement!” This comment usually comes right when we’re in the middle of sweeping floors, bleaching buckets, lifting heavy boxes of vases, and trying to get sap off our hands while at the same time nursing an aching back and hoping the phone doesn’t ring so we can finally finish just one task.

It’s really easy to get bogged down, and the result is that we forget to celebrate our successes. We’re always looking and thinking ahead to the next wedding, the next event, the next field to weed, the next prospective client meeting that we want to book, and the next accountant meeting. While I don’t think this is a bad thing, it means that we frequently forget to stop and smell the roses — literally!

One of the things that, as floral designers, we love the most about flowers is their fleeting beauty. Here today, gone tomorrow — literally. Their ephemeral nature is what makes flowers so, so special. Yet, we forget about this!

For example, when I started my business, I made a goal of booking 2 weddings for that year. I booked 30. How did I celebrate? Ummm. Maybe I bought a sandwich? Another example; at my largest wedding to date, I took a minute to look around when we were close to finishing setting up. I was really proud. It was my first booking with a floral budget over $10,000! There were some fun installations and a bride who trusted me to do whatever I wanted. It was the first wedding I needed to rent a big van for. It was a really big deal! However that moment of pride lasted for about 35 seconds. Why? I looked up at the wedding planner, expecting to receive some words of praise or gratitude, but instead saw only stress and frustration in her eyes. I’m sure it was not about the flowers — I’ll be honest, they were gorgeous — but rather about something else going on because it was a large wedding with a lot of vendors involved. However I let that wedding planner’s emotions affect the way I thought about the wedding, and pretty soon, I was down on myself. I didn’t celebrate that success for days.

So today, I’m spending some time thinking about my successes. For my business, 2017 saw 61 completed weddings (with only one complaint!). I hired my first freelance designer, worked on a chaotic but fun semi-destination wedding, and increased my average wedding budget by $1000, which is a huge deal in my small city! I played a major role in creating beautiful wedding days, saw many of my past couples give birth to their first children, and two who started their own businesses. About 90% of my clients let me have complete and total freedom on their flowers (aside from color palette, of course!) and all summer long, I worked in the fresh air with beautiful flowers and fun colors. You know what? I’m pretty proud of myself.

It’s a challenge to set time aside to celebrate yourself and the things you’ve done. That one complaint I got this year? I still think about it, and let it consume me. I’m constantly looking forward and thinking about how I’m going to reel in the next booking. Believe me; you’re not the only one who gets stuck!

With all that said; I want to hear your successes! Comment below and don’t be afraid to brag. After all of the hard, hard work that we do, we deserve to shout out about ourselves a bit. What are you proud of?