5 Ways to Sell Your Style
Use your style as a sales strategy with a few proven techniques
A few weeks ago, a caterer emailed me to say she spends a lot of money on decorating food stations for events and isn’t charging the client. I asked why she feels the need to do this. She replied without pause, “Because I want to make sure the food and décor compliment each other.”
Clearly, she needs to sell her style.
If a guest attends an event and knows you’re the designer based solely on the way the event looks, you may already have a brand style. I know a caterer that has the word “peach” in their name. At every event there will be peaches, whether it’s a bowl at the buffet or a single peach at the bar. Instant recognition.
Selling your style is easier than you might think. You need just a few sales tools and techniques.
Plan for photo ops
Use photos, photos, photos — but make sure they’re high quality. Many planners are too busy setting up and don’t have time to take photos at their events. Contact your photographer in advance to capture a few details and room shots.
Place the photos on your walls like an art gallery. Creating albums that represent your style and digital content in the social media arena is paramount. In this case, a picture is worth a thousand dollars.
Look, listen & learn
You’ll get a good sense of your client’s style before they say a word just by looking at them. If she’s wearing floral pastels with matching nail polish and hair accessories, she’s most likely the romantic style. If she looks like she just walked off a fashion runway, odds are she’s more contemporary.
When meeting your client at their home, you can determine their style immediately. You may want to suggest their style and the polar opposite in your design pitch for “I want to do something different.” Most importantly, listen to what they’re saying and incorporate their ideas into the proposal. Most clients need to feel that they are part of the design process.
Talk the talk, walk the walk
An old expression and a current concept. Think about it: You’re at the grocery store and notice expired dates, produce looking sparse, a spill on the ground and carts everywhere except in the cart return. Your internal alarm should be buzzing like crazy. Get out!
The same concept applies to the place where you meet clients. Make sure it’s clean, organized and well decorated.
Now take a step back and look in the mirror. What does your style say about you? Creative, funky, classic, disheveled? The way you look may change the way your clients interact with you.
Make room for white space
Most of us are tired of hearing, “Umm, I don’t know, I just can’t visualize how it will look.” In catering, the client can taste your culinary creations and quickly make a decision. In design, it can be a bit more challenging.
Create some white space in your office or warehouse. Section out an area in white pipe and drapes, for a white box feel. This gives you a blank slate to showcase your designs such as a table setting, food station or bar setup. Add lighting to complete the look.
Create a mood board
This is a great way to put together a collection of different design styles. Some use their own designs and others will pull from different places. Pinterest has made it very easy to create the boards. Just send the client the link!
eNews May 2014
Originally published in Catersource magazine February/March 2014