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Fake Out! Putting on a perfect persona for your clients and why they hate it.

When you first start a small business there are a million things to worry about: capital, partnerships, investments, time management and more importantly your business persona. How you sell yourself and your services to others is extremely crucial when you're looking for clientele. In our industry perfection is key - I can't tell you how many times I scroll through Instagram and see a million profiles of coordinators and designers who look like super models. Their work is absolutely perfect and reflects an extreme amount of wealth (we'll all get there one day fam). Is it pretty to look at? Yes. Is their aesthetic on point? Absolutely! But unfortunately, most of us don't have money trees growing in our back yards. The point I'm trying to make is this: there are a million other people in the world doing the same job as us, so what makes you stand out? Perfectionism in the event and wedding industry is to be expected. We want to give our clients the best experience and craft masterful lifelong memories for them - but at what expense?

Ask any of my closest friends and family members and they will tell you that I am the most blunt person in the world. It's gotten me in a ton of trouble, but it's also gotten me decently far in life. When I first started my business I was worried that I would have to transform into this perfect robot Jenn who is devoid of any emotions and constantly says yes to everything. I used this carefully crafted robot Jenn persona while meeting my first two potential clients. My smile was huge, I spoke quietly and always responded with yes mam or yes sir. I would show up decked out in my best business outfit (aka my fav jumpsuit which you can find on amazon here ), portfolio in hand and under no circumstances would I eat around my clients. My teeth were whitened, my hair was curled and I always had about a pound or two of makeup on. Because that's what clients want right? They want someone who looks very business savvy, knows what they're talking about and gets straight to the point.....right? Oh boy was I very wrong. When I came home from both of those meetings, my husband Mike would ask what all husbands ask: "Well, how did it go?". In the early days my response would be: "Eh, I think it went ok...I hope they liked me" and then two or so hours later I would get a text from each of those clients declining my services. But why? What had I done wrong? Were my prices too steep or did I stumble over my words? I literally could not figure out why clients were turning me down left and right.

After the bitter sting of rejection, I decided to ask my therapist about this. As a fellow small business owner and someone who knows my brain in and out I figured she would be the best candidate for this discussion. Ultimately it came down to one simple thing: I wasn't being my true authentic self. I was selling a version of myself to my clients that I didn't really believe in. Am I a super blunt person who curses too much? Absolutely - but I'm still a person, and none of us are perfect robots. I've always said that your potential clients will teach you a lot about yourself, and my first two definitely taught me that selling perfection lacks a genuine connection to others, who are also coincidentally just as human as us. They don't want perfect robot Jenn. Clients do want someone who is business savvy, knows what they're talking about, gets straight to point and they want someone to form a genuine connection with. Would you trust C-3PO to run your wedding (sidebar: def not c-3po but r2-d2 would knock it out of the park) or would you trust a genuine friend who you can confide in? After some therapy role playing I found that in my robot persona I came across as intimidating, cold and honestly - it seemed like I was more concerned about money than about taking care of my clients. This was the complete opposite of what I had wanted and who I genuinely am as a person, so it was time for a change.

The next potential client I sat down with was a very sweet young couple who were starting from the very beginning. They had just gotten engaged and hadn't even posted their engagement pictures on social media yet. When I spoke to my potential bride over the phone she was very quiet and reserved. Immediately I could tell she was nervous and had no idea what to ask or where to start. Politely, I suggested grabbing a cup of coffee together and I encouraged her to bring as many questions as possible and to also bring her mother to make her a bit more comfortable. Before my couple arrived at our coffee date I arrived 30 minutes early, took the time to open my laptop, get my thoughts organized and I ordered way too many pastries/appetizers. When they walked in the door I wanted them to feel like they were hanging out with an old friend who knew their coffee order by heart. I created rules for myself that I still do when meeting with potential clients:

  1. Be thoughtful and order food before they get there. You really want to set an environment where you take decision making off of their plate and put it onto yours. It shows that you're prepared and ready to have a nice and relaxing conversation. It also eliminates the awkward "Oh what are you going to order?" time period.

  2. Always come with a gift in hand. Gift giving is my love language - I absolutely adore spoiling my clients with little knickknacks and just adding a personal touch to my meetings. Click here to see what we put in our consultation gift bags.

  3. Make your contracts so that they're understandable. Legal jargon literally bores everyone but your clients have a right to know what they're signing up for. I always make sure to verbally go over every section of my contract with my clients so they have no questions - and if they do have questions, make your meetings a safe space where they feel comfortable enough to ask. I always bring a cute little folder with our contract, a thank you letter and some Effortless swag in it. Click here if you'd like to see more details on what we include in our folders.

  4. Always, and I mean always, let them lead with their story. It's so important that we as planners/coordinators understand why we're doing what we're doing. Listen to their love story, or the story of why they want to host an event so that you fall absolutely in love with your people. Everyone comes from different walks of life, and hearing each clients unique and individual story just brightens my day. It also gives them a chance to move onto what they're looking for in a coordinator and that's when you can step in and offer what you can do for them.

I've found that these personal touches can really make or break a meeting. My sweet couple absolutely loved this format as well, we literally went from strangers to buddies in an hour. I lost my cold business persona and just brought them me. It was very important for me to be honest and blunt with them as well because if they can't trust what I'm going to say then this partnership would never work. They were on a extremely limited budget and were very thankful when I told them from the beginning what they could afford and what they couldn't. Clients don't want you to be the yes person constantly, they want you to be the person who is going to tell them honestly if this is a good investment for them or not. Sometimes they agree and sometimes they don't, but the important thing is that the conversation is held and that we as planners build enough of a rapport to be straight with our clients. Without that trust, the partnership will dissolve.

So my fellow queens, bring your true authentic self to your client consultations. You wouldn't have started this business based off of anything but yourself, so why act any differently? No one is perfect. Brand yourself and be proud of it. People will fall in love with you and your work, not who you're pretending to be. I promise the outcome will astound you!

If you try any of the above steps please let us know and send us pictures at !

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