This is both my online business and personal journal where I share all of my photography and business projects! Allow me to introduce myself...I am Catherine Guidry, a Louisiana wedding photographer. I am passionate about documenting life but more importantly...living it! <3 My favorite things to do are bike ride with my husband and brainstorm new creative projects!  I am all about meeting new friends and can't wait to meet you!  

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Catherine Guidry

Hi guys! Today's guest is a wedding planner and designer who has been recognized by Southern Living as one of the South's Best Wedding Planners, by Martha Stewart Weddings as one of the Top 64 Wedding Planners in the Nation, and her designs have been recognized in countless magazines and blogs such as Brides, The Knot, Style Me Pretty, Once Wed, and many many more. She is not only incredibly organized but also exhibits all the qualities you want in a professional, including reliability, assertiveness, and a positive attitude. I love working with this women. After working together over the past few years I am lucky to call her a friend. So welcome to the podcast Elyse Jennings!

WHAT YOU'LL HEAR IN THIS PODCAST:

  • Working to build a solid foundation with your clients from the beginning
  • Organizational tips
  • Mistakes Elyse has made
  • The creation and execution of ideas in the design process

 

Working to build a solid foundation with your clients from the beginning

The first step Elyse takes after a client signs on is getting to really know the client which provides a blueprint for how to succeed specific to each bride and groom.The first thing Elyse does is send out a very detailed questionnaire to get this process started. Answering who they are, what they're looking for, and how they communicate will tell how best to approach their planning style and how to design for the client. Questions like where do they shop, what they do on the weekends, their favorite cocktails, and are they fun-loving or structured will paint a picture of who they are at their core instead of just figuring out what they want for their wedding.  Once they have developed this understanding of who the clients are and what they want their wedding to be, the next step is building a spending plan which allows them to take the clients' expectations and put them into an excel sheet. Having this conversation will guide the rest of the process. It is important to all be on the same page so you can move forward and make decisions within these spending parameters. This transparency allows for a level of trust because everyone knows the end goal. These steps take about a month to build a foundation with the client, and this time allows for the client and Elyse to develop an understanding of the process specific to the individual client and how to succeed. For example, some clients want to be cc'ed on every vendor correspondence, and some are simply too busy to care. Really understanding who you're working for and with is really important for all professions. What is most important is that once the wedding day is over, they've enjoyed not only the day but also the process. You want to clearly communicate what you do with client, work to understand their needs, and guide them as the professional. They've put their trust and money in you to guide them on the right direction, so you want to ensure them that you will do the best you can!

Organizational tips

Write everything down. This is important especially when you're dealing with 20 clients at once. There's no way to remember everything. Try to immediately upload notes before moving on to the next task onto a platform like Google Drive. Elyse loved Google Drive because it allows clients to access everything 24/7 and is a great home base for notes from every conversation, email, and meeting so both the client and Elyse can reference back. Todoist is a very helpful checklist-oriented app. You can assign tasks to your team members and send notes and updated on projects so you can see where your team stands on their punch lists. You can structure it either as daily or as a client-based list, and it will show you how much progress you have or haven't made.

Mistakes Elyse has made in her career

One mistake Elyse made in the beginning was trying to please too many different brides which resulted in her brand not standing out. The first instance of this was naming her business “Tying the Knot Wedding Coordination” thinking it would be searchable and relatable. While those things are true, it put her into a muddled pond of every other thing on the internet that was labeled “tying the knot”. While trying to make her brand relatable, she got lost in the shuffle because the name was too generic. Similarly, In developing the brand Elyse also was creating styled shoots that were in too many different design style. By trying to appeal to every different type of brides, she thought that more people would feel connected from all different areas, but in reality it made her seem like a generic designer.

Many people think that building a brand for the masses will help you appeal to more people when in fact the opposite happens. The business name and styled shoots weren't indicative of who Elyse is as a planner or designer. The lesson it to be yourself. Figure out and spend a lot of time learning who you want your business to speak to and what you want your business to say to these ideal clients. How can you stand out as a planner/designer and what sets you apart? These are the things that will make you relatable and get you hired.

Elyse rebranded in 2015 and became specific about her design style. Her new portfolio is tailored to what her ideal client resonates with. Potential clients can see both her personal style and her style through her client's eyes. This rebranding has been immensely helpful with the design process, because her new clients already start out speaking the same design language. Making the transition after several years of business was really difficult. Do it from the beginning if possible, but if not, don't be afraid to make the change in branding because it is worth it start speak to and attracting your ideal client who already knowing who you are based on your brand.

Mistakes Elyse has seen in the industry

Social media is so prevalent, and being present is a very important part of a business. What Elyse does day to day is heavily geared to being present for her clients, so sometimes she forgets to work on her business instead of in her business. Develop your presence online, curate what potential clients see, and make sure they're seeing it often to make sure you're getting exposure. Narrow in on what you want your brand to be so you can accurately represent yourself on social media.

The creation and execution of ideas in the design process

Elyse begins the design process with big picture idea and circles back to about half way through the planning process. Once vendors have been selected, Elyse is able to reassess the budget and start getting into the possibilities for the design details. They work with the client to figure out what's important to them. Clients usually need visuals, so after revisiting the spending plan, Elyse puts together a design plan showing photos or sketches so the client can see exactly what is possible with the rest of the budget. This plan often facilitates a deeper and more specific conversation as they dissect what they like or don't like in the photos or sketches. The design process is very much a conversation with the clients. Some clients are less imaginative or less trusting, but as soon as they see a photo they can visualize it. This allows for an open and transparent conversation on the design front because it's all there in front of them. This design plan allows them to take the ideas into the execution phase so the vendors can see exactly what the client wants.

 

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048: Elyse Jennings – Taking Control of Your Business and Your Brand

June 27, 2018