I’m sorry but this has to be put out there and no one else is talking about it. And I know that I am going to sound like a bitch to a lot of people. I will risk it.
Enough with the cut and pasted emails, sometimes sent through my contact form on my website (that is for potential clients, not YOU) asking me, the planner, to be added to my vendor list.
The following is an “email” I received through my contact form (again, WTF) from a vendor I do not know and have never heard of before:
I am new to the New York Area, but not to (his job).
I have been (profession omitted on purpose) professionally for 10 years and just recently moved to (insert fancy high income area that my office is nowhere near) County. I have worked for high-profile weddings, brands, and artists around the country. I am known for my (blah blah blah). I have a 5 star rating on Thumbtack. (OMG so not a resume builder)
I can (list of everything this vendor can do). For example, here is a little description (followed by no description because this was a contact form and not an email).
My consistent clients include (name drop, name drop, name drop) Visit my website for more details: (website omitted)
I would like to be added to your roster of (particular vendor) and be your first call (not even second? Right to the front of the line???) for your next event. (WHO ARE YOU???)
Feel free to email, call, or text me any time.
Cheers, (name, number, email and website)
Now, I guarantee some people reading this, whether in the wedding industry or not, see absolutely nothing wrong with this reach out above. Well I love to educate and I don’t mean that in a condescending looking down my nose at you way. I truly feel there is a lot of bad information out there and not enough correct education. This is bad behavior above and it needs to be stopped.
First of all, let me be clear about my business process: I do not take commission from my vendors. This means I do not receive a kickback from them if I bring them a couple and they book. I am a planner, not a politician. Other planners can take commission, but that is not, never has been and never will be my style. That said, many vendors expect that I would ask them for commission and think it’s acceptable to cold call or email me like this to get put into my book. After all, what the hell do I care about what they can do as long as they’re paying me, right?
That is mistake number one: Never assume the business practice of a planner, and never assume that they take commission. Frequently, I will be approached by a new vendor and they will flat out offer a percentage in the same sentence or breath where they ask me to recommend them to my clients. I always decline, but at least they offered. If you don’t offer, then you better ask how the planner wants to work.
In the above inquiry (which was the third one I received this week, by the way…it’s Wednesday), they are asking to be on my list and not only are they not offering me a commission deal, they don’t even ask if I would be interested in discussing one.
It is the equivalent of catcalling a woman on the street. What reaction do you really expect? Are you expecting the woman just to be flattered? With all due respect, while I guess it can be flattering, you are not going to get anyone’s time that way. It is the same idea with vendors. Why are you whistling at me? It’s also the same damn whistle aka email that you are mass sending to everyone else. That. Is. Called. Spam.
Another issue, which I hinted at above, is that this was sent through my contact form on my website. That contact form is specifically designed for potential clients. How can you tell? It flat out asks for things like a wedding date and budget. I even have my email listed on my website so that you can avoid the contact form completely. This may seem trite, but when you get an email notification about a new contact form, you want to jump on that immediately because that is good business practice. If you’re me, getting upwards of 5-10 of these every week (not joking), mostly through your contact form, it gets pretty irritating.
Then there is the completely obvious fact that the vendor knows nothing about my business. How is it obvious? Well, the inquiry above came from a town that is roughly 1.5 hours away from my office. While I do plan weddings everywhere, my guess is that this vendor didn’t take the time to check my home base location, but rather, cast a wide-net around the tri-state area. No Bueno.
Now, I said I like good education and getting the correct information out there. This is not just about ripping apart this inquiry or others like it. As a planner, it is my job to have a strong rolodex with varied venues and vendors to recommend to my clients. How do those vendors get in there in the first place if I refuse to recommend anyone I haven’t worked with already? Chicken before the egg issue, right? Also, how can I possibly update my book if I am always shutting down inquiries? Or….am I shutting them down?
Whether it be a networking event, an event we happen to work together on by chance, or an event of yours that I attended where I got to see your work, there are multiple ways to become a preferred vendor in my book. My current practice (which has been in place for some time) when a vendor reaches out to me or “cold calls” me, is to ask the vendor to be available for any of the events that I work on with the charity I volunteer with. Read: work for free and let me see what you can do.
But here’s the thing: I am not going to extend that offer to anyone that sends me an inquiry like the one above because that vendor is all about themselves. If you are a vendor and wondering how the hell you’re supposed to approach a planner, you have come to the right place!
First and foremost, use the email, not the contact form. I know it’s a dead horse, but that’s rule number 1. Also, please email and do not call. Now, that’s a personal thing, but I schedule everything from when I check my emails to when I have phone calls…so if you call me to chat about getting into my book, odds are I’m in the middle of something and will ask you to email me.
What goes in the email? Your short introduction (short, for real) should include where you are based as well as your website and I love checking out social media handles too. It should also include why you think we should work together. Do we have the same style? Did you like something you saw me post on Instagram? Is my biting wit vibing with yours? Show me that you know something, anything, about my work. Please.
Personally, I want to see words like “work together” in your email as well as an offer to come to my office and chat. I know other planners that like anything from commission offers to setting up a lunch date to offering a giraffe. Do what works for you because you need to click with the planner in order to get into that book in the first place. While I might be inclined to visit your office on a second meeting, it’s best to refrain from asking a planner to come to you as you really should be going to them. A phrase that keeps me from hitting the delete button?
“I’d love to talk about how we can work together in the future.”
What makes me hit delete immediately? Anything like this:
“I’d love to be added to your book.”
“I want you to recommend me to your clients.”
“I want to be the first vendor in my category in your book.”
“What does it take to get into your book?”
I know that last one is kinda sorta asking me how we can work together, but I just go back to the catcalling trying to get into my pants thing and then I need to delete the email and take a shower.
Another thing that skeeves planners out? Talking badly about the vendors they already recommend. I guard my book pretty fiercely but it’s not that hard to figure out the players on my team for weddings. Do not, I repeat, do not, ever talk trash about any of them. It should seem obvious that you shouldn’t do that, but sadly, it’s done a lot. Frankly, I do not care if you like any of them because I love all of them. Know who I don’t like now? Y-O-U.
That’s basically the long and short of this rant that needed to be said and read. Networking and communicating and meeting new people is all part of the wedding world game. You can get into a planner’s book, if you don’t treat it like getting into their pants. I’m sure I have come across as that girl at the bar that is high maintenance and has no time for you to some people. However, I hope that the advice here has been helpful, not hurtful, and if you’re mad at me, well…not every planner was meant for every vendor and that’s OK too.