My top 5 mistakes, and what you should learn from them! – Part 1

One of our long term members, Isabel Smith has frequently written informative posts for our blog on life as a wedding planner. Last year she wrote an excellent one on valuing your worth as a wedding planner. In this new series for the UKAWP she is discussing her top 5 mistakes and how you can learn from them.

I’ve been in the wedding industry for a while now (8 years in fact – yep, we’re all getting old!) and, as every planner (and indeed every business owner!) in the world has, I have made my share of mistakes.  I am very pleased to say however, that not only have I survived them, but I have also (for the most part at least) learnt from them.

No-one likes to admit making mistakes.  I am sure we all feel like we are supposed to get everything right all the time (and that applies to business, raising kids, relationships, etc.).  Certainly Twitter would have you believe that everything in everyone’s business is hunky-dory all the time, but in the spirit of the Alliance’s ethos of us all helping each other to become better planners, and in the hope that my being a little bit honest and a little bit vulnerable might be somewhat cathartic, I thought I’d start a series of posts counting down my top 5 mistakes in the hope that someone else doesn’t make them too!

TOP MISTAKE NO 5:  Advertising

Paying for advertising is a totally valid marketing activity in the right context.  Why else would ads exist and the Mad Men be making all that money?

However, I would argue that small, individual companies with limited budgets (like ours for the most part) don’t benefit from traditional paid advertising since we can rarely afford the large, meaningful ads that actually catch people’s attention, much less to run them for long enough for them to effectively build the brand in the consumer’s mind.

In my first year of business, I was approached by a certain company who makes a certain CD-ROM accompaniment to a certain national bridal title.  I was sooooo excited to be approached – after all, I must be on someone’s radar! But I remembered the Alliance’s training advocating less expensive, more ‘grass-roots’ marketing methods and I said no to advertising despite all the ‘one-time-only-price’ and ‘this-is-specialist-guide-to-the-best-planners’ bumph they sent my way.

A few days later, they came back to me.  Having failed to find someone in my area, they offered an even lower price and I, in my excitement, relented.  I was even a teensy bit smug since I knew another planner in the Alliance had paid more than me (I hope I didn’t actually sound smug though – we’re still friends so I assume not!).

I’m gonna say it – I got duped.


Not only was this particular segment buried into the smallest button within the CD-ROM, there was no way to track who was even looking at it.  In terms of direct success (i.e. number of people who actually enquired off the back of it), the success rate was easily trackable – exactly ZERO.

I am not saying to never ever advertise (although that is my own policy) but I would suggest exercising EXTREME caution – especially if they contact you.  Put it his way; You’re at home, there is a knock on the door, someone is selling something (double glazing, a new restaurant down the road, the word of God – doesn’t matter what).  Do you buy it?

If, like me, you say no every time you get a cold call in your personal life, why wouldn’t you do the same in your small, personal business?


  1. Natalia Hollingsworth on 4th August 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Loved reading this post Isabel. I received a very similar call recently about a certain CD-ROM advert and although I rarely advertise I have to say I was very tempted but in the end I declined because it sounded too good to be true. Reading your article has just confirmed that I made the right decision, thanks for sharing!

  2. Isabel Smith on 6th August 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Thanks Natalia – I am really glad it helped.

    Good on you for standing your ground!

Leave a Comment