• Sage Wedding Pros is committed to creating operationally and financially sustainable businesses in the wedding and events industries.

  • the next level
    strategy conference

    easy-peasy
    business planning

    hiring, & training
    at your fingertips

    downloads, tools,
    checklists, & e-books

    meet mingle share
    with wedding pros

Meet our Thursday Therapy Hosts for Phoenix

We are thrilled to be partnered with 3 outstanding businesses in the Phoenix area for Thursday Therapy. We love the energy and vibe that Cammie, Devin, Jacob, and Kate bring to networking. We hope that you’ll join them for meeting and mingling. Check out their next event on June 5th!

Cammie Dubina - Plan Simplicity Events

Cammie Dubina – Plan Simplicity Events

Devin Berko & Jake Burke - Something New Media

Devin Berko & Jake Burke – Something New Media

Kate DeLong - Preserve Your Flowers

Kate DeLong – Preserve Your Flowers

Kate shared with us her thoughts on networking…

How did all of you meet? 

I attended the Phoenix Bridal Show in October 2013, where I met Cammie of Plan Simplicity Events & Devin of Something New Media. We all sorta meshed from the beginning, we were newer wedding professionals on the scene, we were ready to network & mingle. Cammie had attended a Sage Wedding Pros event not top long after where she learned about Thursday Therapy & we were all hooked from there! We love to meet wedding industry leaders and create professional relationships with other wedding professionals. It’s what makes our world go round!

Why did you want to bring Thursday Therapy to Phoenix?

We can’t wait to host a fun way to meet & connect with other wedding professionals! How many times have you attended a bridal show or other bridal related event, where you wish you could have networked more? Or felt rushed during your initial conversation with a really awesome wedding vendor? This is a fun way to jump start that networking in a relaxed environment & create lasting professional relationships.

What advice do you have for those new to networking?

One piece of advice I would give to other wedding professionals in the industry is to be confident in yourself and be prepared to sell that confidence. Stop doubting yourself! Be proud of your company, what you do, what you create, or the product you sell.

Thanks Kate! We’re excited about wedding pros gathering together for fun at Thursday Therapy Phoenix!

 

Facebook This|Tweet This|Email This|Contact Us|Link This

The Importance of Your Website’s Copy

How much attention do you pay to the words on your website? The actual text in your bio and services information? Those words matter. They can make or break your business. Not only are people attracted to interesting verbiage, but also it is a reflection of your company, your culture, your brand. Does your website copy reflect your best self?

Today’s guest post comes from Astrid Mueller (designer extraordinaire at astridmueller.com) and Jessica Fox (wordsmith wizard at foxywrites.com).

The Key Ingredients to a Successful Brand!

Are you ready?

Here they are:

Unique Brand Concept

+

Great Visual Brand

+

Branded Copy & Communication

We know, we know. You totally get that a targeted, tailored, branded visual representation of your business is essential.

But what about branded copy? Why do you need that, too?  It’s just writing – unlike graphic design, anyone can do that, right?

We won’t argue with you there.

Just about everyone can write, and we’re willing to bet that many of you are fantastic with a pen when not knee-deep in weddings. But branded copy is another beast entirely. It’s not about lofty prose, killer descriptions, or perfect grammar (although that is a must).  And it’s not something that every writer (even super awesome ones) can execute well.

Copywriting is about communication. A good brand writer has a strong understanding of your brand and gets to know your business’s goals, what sets it apart, and why it’s special.  She thinks about what appeals to your customer and gets them to act. Through word choice and a little psychology, she creates horn-tooting text that speaks to your customer in a compelling, brand-unique voice.

As the first impression we have of a company, branded graphic design is a powerful thing. It gets customers to take notice, emotionally connect, and remember a brand…so you better make it count.

Without branded copy, your visual identity is like Wonder Woman without her lasso…you need it to rope ‘em in. Or, imagine if Wonder Woman spoke like Minnie Mouse. Naturally, each has her own charm, but wouldn’t we be utterly confused by her and what she stands for?  The same holds true for your brand.

We could blather on about why every step in branding needs to be powerful and consistent, but instead we’ll show you, thanks to our recent collaboration with Print Icon, a luxury printing and design boutique in New York.

Whether in-store or online, copy and marketing pieces should always be organized to help ideal customers navigate and understand the business’s offerings:

BEFORE the rebrand:

Drafts from the client for in-store posters to explain the boutique’s services:

astrid

AFTER the rebrand:

posters-3

concise, branded copy on service posters for Print Icon’s retail location

posters-3

concise, branded copy on service posters for Print Icon’s retail location

Special occasions, especially launches, are another instance where personalized text is key for professional, consistent brand presentation.

BEFORE:

This was the text draft from Print Icon for their launch invitation:

Print Icon Gilded… New possibilities in the Art of Paper

You are cordially invited to the Grand Opening of Print Icon Gilded, a unique new store and gallery celebrating new possibilities in art, paper, and the art of paper.

Our debut gallery exhibit – Parviz Shapoor’s “Welcome to my Eyes” – introduces the art of the famed Iranian writer, poet and satirist.

I hope you will join us for wine and hors d’oeuvres at our Grand Opening reception.

February 10th at 5:00 PM.

Please RSVP to: RSVP@printicon.com

AFTER:

The edited copy, in the used VIP invitation card for members of the press:

VIPinvite3-4print-larger

The tagline of a brand is one of the first customer touch points and is another important opportunity to evoke emotion:

business cards

business cards

Last, but not least, when used in company communication, a branded sign-off can enhance a business’s image:

a branded company greeting for email communication

a branded company greeting for email communication

Interested in working with Astrid Mueller, brand designer extraordinaire, or Jessica Fox, copy writing queen? Visit AstridMueller.com and Foxywrites.com, and email Astrid at Astrid(at)AstridMueller.com or Jessica.R.Fox(at)me.com…they look forward to chatting!

Facebook This|Tweet This|Email This|Contact Us|Link This
May 28, 2014 - 7:31 am

Roxanne Bellamy - Great article Michelle. It’s becoming more evident that our clients are very savvy and that they want a total experience from beginning to end which definitely includes brand identity and communication. It’s a daunting task but one that needs to be executed in order to put ones best face forward.

May 28, 2014 - 7:35 am

Michelle Loretta - You are so right about that! The client experience starts the minute that the client (potential client) lands on your website.

June 6, 2014 - 10:46 pm

Astrid Mueller - Thank you so much for the feature and the great article, Michelle! Appreciate it! Many greetings and much continued inspiration and success to you!

Gifting Services to Clients Kills Your Profits

Last week, we talked about profit margins and how important it is to know how much profit you make on each event. This was something that Todd Fiscus shared at Biz Bash in Florida a couple weeks ago and I completely echo his sentiment. This knowledge is valuable and without knowing your cost budgets per event, you’re putting your business sustainability on the line.

Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/intelfreepress

Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/intelfreepress

Another concept that Todd talked about was the idea of ‘gifting services’ to clients… intentionally and unintentionally.

‘Gifting services’ is when…

  • you go-above-and-beyond without charging accordingly
  • you throw in extra time or product without being compensated
  • you go WAYYY above cost budget to show off your skill without invoicing the client

You know how it goes… the client hires you to design their event, or take their pictures, or shoot their wedding, or design their invites…

Scenario 1: you fall in love with the client and you want them to love you… you become their slave

OR

Scenario 2: your client hires you and you underbid their event… your brand is on the line and in order for your company to look good, you need to make up for their lack of budget

Any time that you go beyond your cost budget to gift the client (or show off in the name of your brand) you are putting your profitability on the line. This doesn’t mean that you ever cheap out, or do inadequate work. It doesn’t mean that you can’t give them an actual gift-gift for being your client. It means that you need to price your jobs accordingly so that you can do the best job for your client AND be profitable. You need to know what your price is for your services and you need to have that cost budget in place and stick to it.

What do you think about this idea of gifting clients on your services? Has this happened to you?

Facebook This|Tweet This|Email This|Contact Us|Link This
May 14, 2014 - 8:24 am

The Mamones - Of course this has happened to us…hasn’t it happened to everyone? We fall in love with nearly ALL of our clients ;-) We have made a conscience choice to upgrade products like fine art gallery wrap sizes or album enhancements as a “gift” however we code the additional costs to “Marketing” since we believe that these art pieces go a long way to promote further sales. Clever or silly…thoughts? We also tend to see this when a couple waits a very long time to order their contracted products and the wholesale costs have increased. We almost never charge the difference…I guess we should be?

May 14, 2014 - 8:35 am

Michelle Loretta - I think this could be a good ‘marketing’ investment. (I love that you are tracking it, Don!) I think it could go a long way to promote further sales. Make sure to track the ROI on it. (Obviously, if you get a lot of client referrals, then it is working.) I think the graver danger is when photographers spend too much time editing/correcting – or throw in lots of extra hours ‘to get the shot’. I realize that sometimes we just do that (because that’s part of ‘good service’.) But – it has to be reasonable – or we’re killing our profits (and probably risking burnout).
Regarding the wholesale cost increase… can you give them a deadline to purchase their products? (Or have a ‘product prices effective for 3 months post contract’?) You do have to protect yourself a bit here.

Be Sage Conference Speaker: Jane Park, CEO and founder of Julep

We are thrilled to partner with a range of amazing speakers for our Be Sage Conference this August. When we sat down to set our curriculum for Be Sage, we asked ourselves: “What are the challenges that experienced business owners have in the wedding industry?” We came up with a list of questions and found the best people to speak on these topics.

We are thrilled to introduce you to Jane Park, CEO and founder of Julep. You may have seen Jane recently featured in Forbes magazine. (Not just once, but twice.) Or, maybe in Fast Company magazine. Or, maybe this INC magazine article. We’ve asked Jane to share with us about how to build a business around really knowing what the client wants. She’ll be answering…

Questions:

How can I better capitalize on needs in the market?
How can I continue to develop innovative products and services?
How can I use social media for market research?
How can I gauge demand to ensure clients will buy what I sell?

JaneParkJulepIntroducing: Jane Park, CEO and founder of Julep Beauty, Inc.

Jane Park is CEO and founder of Julep, one of the world’s fastest-growing beauty products companies. Since founding Julep in 2006, Jane has expanded the company into a multichannel beauty brand. Julep creates and sells over 300 natural, toxin-free nail and skincare products per year, based on crowdsourced feedback from its tens of thousands of devoted customers. Prior to starting Julep, Jane was director of new ventures for Starbucks, where she worked in management roles for nearly seven years. Jane started her career at The Boston Consulting Group, where she was a strategy consultant in the retail sector. Jane holds a JD from Yale University, and a BA in Public Policy and International Affairs from Princeton.

5 Things You’ll Learn from Jane: 

  • How to utilize social media for market research and product development.
  • How to grow a business by listening to the market.
  • How to get the market to tell you what they want.
  • How to find untapped opportunities.
  • How to gauge consumer demand.

We feel pretty strongly about partnering with companies and individuals that mirror and augment our own core values. Here is Julep’s core philosophy:

We believe beauty is about connection, not competition.

Make sure to check out the Julep video to see why Julep is different from other beauty companies.

We hope you’ll join us this August!

BE SMART. BE BRIGHT. BE SAGE.

Ticket sales are open for Be Sage Conference and limited to the first 100 people to sign up. We do expect this conference to sell out. Early rates close on May 31, 2014.

__________________________________________________

Here’s a little refresher if you missed our post last month about our new conference:

We want you to have a deeper business strategy that will take your business to the next level. This isn’t a business theory conference. And, while you will certainly be inspired, we aim to prepare you with actual tools to use in your business (not just a hope and dream.)

We will continue to add conference details at: www.besageconference.com

Greenhouse Loft, Chicago | August 3-5, 2014

Facebook This|Tweet This|Email This|Contact Us|Link This

Event Profit Margins and Why You Need to Know Them

I had the pleasure of speaking at Biz Bash last week in Florida. I sat in on Todd Fiscus‘ Innovation Forum talk while I was there. He shared his thoughts on how to design events smarter.

Photo credit: Lending Memo - lendingmemo.com

Photo credit: Lending Memo – lendingmemo.com

Being the numbers girl that I am, I really perked up when he talked about event profitability… specifically managing your event budgets. I’m not talking about your client’s budget – tho it does apply. I’m talking about the budget that you have established for each event. You have that, right?

This is what I’m talking about…

client is paying you $20k to design their event
your cost budget for this event is $6k… meaning you have $6 to spend on materials, labor, etc.

If you track your profit and cost margins (and you should), you’ll know that a $20k wedding sale minus $6 k in costs, leaves you with $14k… or a 70% profit margin*. Nice!

You need to have a profit margin benchmark when preparing to service your client… this applies to you whether you are an event designer, or a photographer, or a filmmaker, or a stationer. If you’re a filmmaker, you need to know upfront how much money you have to work with when hiring a second shooter, when outsourcing to an editor for post-production. How much of a cost budget do you have to work with for a $5k job vs. a $10k job?

And… then… the trick is to manage that event’s cost budget… watch it closely. Being successful and profitable with events is so heavily reliant on that profit margin… the bigger the better. (We aren’t selling bulk widgets here at 10% margins… services need to have nice hefty margins.)

What’s a ‘good’ profit margin? Ahhh… it depends on so many factors: what you do, what you sell, who your clients are, what your overhead expenses are, how much you want to earn from your business. You need to find that profitability sweet spot that works with YOUR business model!

What are your thoughts on this? Have you seen this in your business? (Confused? Need help figuring out your profitability sweet spot? Shoot me an email and I can help: michelle@sageweddingpros.com .)

________________________________
*Profit Margin is calculated like this:
Gross Profit / Sales = Profit Margin %
or
Profit from one event / Sales Price = Profit Margin %

Facebook This|Tweet This|Email This|Contact Us|Link This
May 14, 2014 - 8:18 am

The Mamones - This was a great reminder of the “numbers” information we learned all about during the Simple Plan Workshop. We use this calculation ALL THE TIME now to ensure we are hitting our target margins. As a photography team our margins are typically between 80-90% since we offer a VERY personal service and can only work with one couple on a given wedding day. Thanks for keeping us inspired to watch the numbers ;-)

D+E

H o m e
C o n n e c t
S u b s c r i b e
S e a r c h