Your telephone is the most important piece of business equipment you own, so spare no expense in making sure it's equipped to serve your business needs. Have more than one line to avoid interrupted calls. Always choose voice-mail over answering machines; the audio quality is better, and it prevents live, out-loud messages from intruding when you're meeting with a client.
Avoid using cell phones to conduct business if possible. Cell strength and reception are intermittent, and outside interferences such as traffic noise can be a nuisance.
Your first contact with a potential client is usually via phone, so ensure your audio quality is good, and your phone etiquette exemplary. Be friendly and professional. Speak clearly and give the caller your undivided attention. Remove yourself from any potential distractions such as the TV, editing, and children. And above all, return all calls quickly.
Smile while you're on the phone; it really makes a difference. I have booked numerous high-end weddings because I was able to convey my enthusiasm, confidence, and passion to my clients over the phone. As a reminder, stick a smiley face by your phone to remind you to smile.
Listen carefully to your client's needs and wants. Use surveys if necessary. Take careful notes and get pertinent information such as name, phone number, how they found you, and the date, time, and location of the event.
Engage in conversation about their event, wedding plans, and other vendors involved to show you're interested in them. With all the contacts we make working side by side with photographers, caterers, and the like, we can be a great resource, so offer suggestions and refer other vendors if applicable. Clients want a team of professionals that work well together.
Your email etiquette should mirror your phone demeanor. Email responses should be prompt, polite, and professional. Always proofread and spell check before sending.
Items promoting your business are a direct reflection of you, and should maintain the same style and design.
Business cards are a prime example. There are many varieties of business cards. I use extra-thick card stock with engraved printing with a classic and elegant appearance. Clients and other vendors recognize the high quality and therefore associate it to the service I provide. Magnetic Cards can be useful. People tend to display them on their refrigerators, file cabinets, etc. Business cards with your photo on them will help people visually remember who you are.
As the Internet supplants the yellow pages and other venues as the first place people go to browse and comparison-shop, your clients are likely to form their first impression of you from what they find on your Web site. An effective Web site is an essential marketing tool that gives you a competitive advantage in getting your message out fast and presenting a high-tech image. It can replace costly brochures and provide a much more efficient way to promote your services to larger and more disparate groups.
A Web site is also easy to update, and links you to popular search engines, vendor sites, marketing groups, online bridal magazines, and more. It is imperative that your Web address be on all your marketing materials, stationary, advertisements, and outgoing voicemail messages.
Design a professional Web site that reflects you and your style. Be original and avoid duplicating others. If you are not a professional Web designer, hire one!
My Web site is useful in pre-qualifying clients by posting my starting fee. My time is valuable, and spending time on the phone with a potential client who can't afford my services is not cost-effective. If they contact me after visiting my Web site, then I know I have a serious customer.
Web sites can also include hidden sections that provide private but instantaneous information to your client. Before I meet with a couple, I will send them the links to my Frequently Asked Questions, terms of the contract, price list, directions to my studio, and streaming demo. This reduces a lot of questions and therefore saves time during the first appointment.
A computer with Internet and email access, professional stationery, and fax machine are all essential to a successful business. They open up more methods of communicating with your client and contribute to the professional image that you need to convey from your first encounter.
Lease or purchase a credit card machine so clients can book you easily, pay your retainer, and possibly spend more money without delaying the process through the mail. Many couples receive frequent flyer miles or other special offers by using their credit cards and prefer to pay vendors this way. It also instills trust, security, and confidence in your client when you appear established.
Image is everything. Always be aware of it when dealing with clients and vendors. Everything you do is a reflection of yourself and your business, so always put your best self out there.