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Invest in yourself if you want others to invest in you, part 1

I was giving a presentation recently and I used the phrase “Invest in yourself if you want others to invest in you.” In that case I was referring to your websites, branding, collateral marketing (business cards, brochures, etc.), and to your sales skills. Before you can expect your target clientele to invest their hard-earned money with you, especially for their once-in-a-lifetime wedding, you have to invest your time and money into earning their business.

Too often I meet someone who’s complaining that they’re not getting the clientele they’d like (usually one that will spend more for their services). However, that same company usually isn’t doing the things they need to attract, sell, and service that same clientele. You see other businesses getting the clients you want, but what you don’t usually see are the behind the scenes things that got them where they are.

10k hours

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he speaks about a threshold of 10,000 hours that separates the more proficient and successful people from the rest. Whether it’s Bill Gates having 10,000 hours of computer programming time before he started Microsoft, or Yo-Yo Ma playing and practicing the cello more than 10,000 hours, the common thread is that occasion comes when talent and opportunity collide. Of course Yo-Yo Ma has more talent than most cellists, but there are others who will never realize their potential because they’re not willing to put in the time.

Step 1: Identify the problem

I was writing this on a recent flight and it got a little longer than my regular articles, so, in this article I’m going to shine a light on the problem. For the sake of brevity, we’ll break this article into two parts. Let me give you the synopsis here.

• Investing in yourself involves time and/or money. There are no free rides. When you see another business with a better website, better branding, or better sales skills, they’ve taken steps to get there. Just as you work to improve your technical skills, you need to improve your business skills.

• What’s the first impression you’re trying to make? You can tell when someone has made their own website or designed their own business cards, postcards, etc. Others can tell when you do the same.

• You never know from where your next inspiration will come. Opening your eyes to ideas outside your industry can spark ideas that you can adapt to what you do. If you only ever listen to the same voices you’ll only hear the same things. That’s why I love listening and reading about ideas that are outside my current skill set.

• They can’t hire you if they don’t know you exist. Investing in better ad placement and show booth size and placement often gets you a better return on your investment. You still need a great ad or booth design, and then sales and marketing to take the next steps, but those, too, are investments.

• Networking is first about showing up. Showing up sporadically to networking events with a handful of business cards isn’t going to get you a flood of referrals. People refer people they know and trust.

• You can’t reap the benefits if you don’t first make the investment. Did I say there are no free rides? It’s worth repeating.

What we can learn from a DIY wedding

I’ve rarely met a wedding or event professional who likes the idea of engaged couples doing some of their wedding services themselves (or having friends or relatives do them). Those are usually referred to as the DIY (do-it-yourself) bride or groom. It’s not an entirely accurate phrase as they’re not doing everything themselves, only parts of their wedding. For some it’s the invitations or decorations, while for others it’s the music, photography, video, or planning.

Wedding and event pros view those DIY couples as taking business away from them, but the truth is that if they don’t have the money, or more importantly they don’t see the value in hiring you, they’re not your customer and they never were. But I’m getting a little off topic here.

Self-inflicted damage

The reason you want them to hire you is because you are the expert. You are the one who has invested the time, money, and effort to learn your service and earn the right to charge for the value you provide. If you agree with my assertion then you should also agree that it’s somewhat hypocritical to think that you can do many of the professional services your business needs better than a professional.

What are you really good at?

Do you have a degree in graphic design? Have you studied website creation and maintenance? Are you a sales and marketing expert? Some of you will answer yes to one or more of those questions, but you’ll be in the minority. Chances are you got into your business because you are skilled at something other than business, or website design, or marketing. Being a fantastic chef doesn’t qualify you to design a great business card. Being an award-winning photographer, videographer, band, or DJ doesn’t qualify you to make an effective website.

Think about these ideas and we’ll pick up this thread shortly in Catersource’s Get Fresh newsletter, out on February 17 as well as online on my Catersource blog, to discuss the remaining “Invest in Yourself” concepts. And of course, I will be at CSES2016, presenting plenty of ideas in person. Hope to see you there.

Alan Berg is a business consultant and the wedding and event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®, the highest-earned designation for a professional speaker, and a featured speaker at Catersource® each year. Find out more at Get more business ideas at Alan’s online learning portal

Alan Berg

Alan Berg

Marketing Guru,, Kendall Park, NJ

With more than 20 years in wedding & event related sales and marketing, Alan Berg has been called "North America's Leading Expert on the Business of Weddings & Events". He's uniquely qualified to help caterers achieve success in this most important sector of the business. As a highly regarded industry expert in all aspects of marketing, his knowledge and expertise can help practically any caterer move to the next level. As the author of the popular books "If your website was an employee, would you fire it?" and “Your Attitude for Success” (both in their 2nd editions) and the mini-book “Don’t Paint The House”.

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