This is a question I am asked time and time again, and there is an answer to this question that I think will help you. It isn’t the miracle cure that everyone wants to hear but it will help to point you in the right direction.
So you’ve done your training, received your certificate or diploma in your chosen field, built your website, created your office and got an email address and business telephone number, but where are your clients? Why aren’t they knocking down your door so you can plan, style or design their wedding or event?
I am sure that like me when I first started you’ve advertised, planned your marketing and even attended networking events to try and build up both your supplier database and clientele. Part of my weekly tasks was to make sure I visited at least two new suppliers to introduce myself, but for some reason, these suppliers were less than enthusiastic about me and my new business and I couldn’t understand why. The only phone calls I received from the adverts I placed were people trying to sell me more advertising. I did manage to get a few initial consultations but they never turned into paying clients – this was probably because I was so excited to be sat with a real bride that I gave away all my ideas and tips for free, so they had no need to hire me.
I was starting to despair. I had read nearly every book I could find on ‘How to Build Your Business’ and ‘Marketing Your Business’ and even though I had followed the instructions word for word my suppliers were still not recommending me. What was I doing wrong?
It wasn’t until nearly 6 months into my business that I had my ‘Light Bulb Moment’ and of all people to give me this blinding flash of light it was my good old Dad. We were sat down chewing over my business and my embarrassing lack of clients when the pearls of wisdom started pouring out of his mouth.
My Dad had been in sales all his life and done very well from it, but it had never occurred to me before that he might actually be able to help me – I mean nobody really wants their parents to know more than they do, we all think we know best. Anyway, my Dad calmly sat there and looked me in the eye and told me that I was looking at this all wrong. Business isn’t about what you know it’s about who you know. Ring any bells? Why would these suppliers want to do business with me when they didn’t know me? They didn’t know my style, my work ethics, my professionalism, they didn’t even know if I would turn up on time.
Dad then asked me to make a list of ALL the people I knew from old work colleagues and friends to my hairdresser and personal trainer. He then asked me to circle those that actually knew about my business and that was when the lightbulb in my head went off…people buy people. People will recommend people they know, like and trust and the people on my list were about to become my unpaid sales force. Never underestimate the power of personal referrals. Although I was doing all the right things with my marketing, advertising and supplier networking this method was going to take time to establish. I needed to earn the trust and respect of these professionals before the referrals would come in. The people on my list, however, already knew me well and trusted me and were the ideal place for me to start.
The moral of this story is to start getting your referrals from the people you already know as they are much more likely to sing your praises.