Choosing Your Wedding Colors

Picking your wedding colors can be a lot trickier than a bride or groom-to-be may think. After all, we all know our colors and what generally goes with what, right? Almost, and many people do have a knack for decorating, but for those of us who may need a helpful push in the right direction, here are eight steps to a great wedding color palette.

Use The Inspiration Around You

One of the most important decisions in planning a wedding is the venue and its location. So, if you are artistically inclined, use what palette ideas you have in mind to narrow what venues and locations you’re considering hosting your ceremony and reception in. If you love the cooling colors of summer, consider a beach wedding! If you’re more into a cozy feel of fall, look into some rustic wedding ideas. Of course, we can reverse course pretty easily here too. What if you’re not sure what colors you would prefer on Your Day, then ask yourself where you would prefer to have your ceremony and reception. A destination wedding, maybe? Think of what variations of that country’s national colors would make a nice palette. Are you infatuated with the idea of having a spring brunch reception? Look for some unique pastel colors to incorporate.

Seasonality Says A Lot

Your wardrobe and wedding colors can really tie everything together if done right. A winter bride always looks stunning in a white wedding palette while a spring wedding day would look just as amazing in all white, but pastels would give it a more lighthearted feel. It all depends on if you want to tie-in the time of year and weather with your celebration.

Mood: [Insert Colors Here]

As briefly mentioned before, the feel and mood that you want your wedding to have can really help you figure out what colors would be best. For a dramatic wedding, it would be wise to stay away from pastel colors and hone-in on darker shades of jewel, red, or gold. A wedding that is looking for more of a fun, frolicking feel to it, look at colors that you’d see on a bright, sunny day; colors such as peach and periwinkle or white and sky blue. Then, of course, there’s always the black and white wedding theme for the best of both worlds!

Ask Around

When in doubt, ask your family members and closest friends for help deciding! Guests, more often than not, love being involved in the wedding (see: Ross and Chandler at Phoebe’s wedding) even if it’s a tiny thing like giving color palette input. You know what they say, two minds are better than one, so take those minds of the guests you’re inviting and put them to good work!

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Short Attention Spans Aren't The Problem

It seems like every other week I read an article bemoaning the ever-declining length of the human attention span, which apparently is down to 4 ½ seconds. (Which means you’re no longer even reading this.)

Here’s the thing though: I’ve never been able to find a legitimate study that scientifically documents this supposed decline.

And in fact, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary: Movie audiences will happily sit in a darkened theater (or “theatre” in Europe) for up to three hours at a time. People routinely binge watch ten to twelve straight hours of television via Hulu or Netflix. And every new “Harry Potter” book caused millions of kids to worry their parents by refusing to come down to dinner because they were too busy reading.

The problem isn’t that we have shorter attention spans than ever before, it’s that we have a lower tolerance for being bored.

Which means if people aren’t reading your articles, listening to your sales presentations or watching your videos, it’s not because people don’t have sufficient attention spans, it’s because your stuff sucks.

The reality is, if you stuff is awesome, people will pay attention to it.

So how do you make your stuff awesome?

Know your audience
Define your ideal client: age, sex, job title, industry, location, marital status, income, etc. Write or record specifically for them.

Focus on what they care about
Nobody cares about you. Everybody cares about themselves. So talking about your company, product or service is boring. Talking about your prospects’ wants, needs, problems, goals, fears and dreams is engaging.

Get help
If you’re not a naturally gifted writer or charismatic presenter, you’re not doomed to bored people forever. Just get the help you need to come across better, whether that means an editor, a presentation coach, a professional writer, a graphic designer, a spokesperson, or someone else who can help you shine.

The attention span of prospective buyers is one of the most valuable commodities for any business or sales person. And because the competition for that attention of more intense than ever before, people can be choosier about where they devote it.

But they will devote it, if they’re interested enough. Short attention spans aren’t the problem—the quality of your content is. Make your stuff more compelling and you’ll get more attention. And more sales.

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Nine Ways To Improve Your Business Image

May is International Business Image Improvement Month. In honor of that, I thought I’d tweet out an article on the subject. But when I did a search for “how to improve your business image,” all the articles I found contained such hackneyed advice such as, “Be active on social media,” “Update you website,” Launch an ad campaign,” “Use PR,” and “Target influencers.”

While those admonitions are not necessarily bad—and in fact, excellent companies do those things regularly—they’re not actually going to help you if your business isn’t already outstanding. If your company has issues—and nearly all companies do—the above advice is akin to putting a fresh coat of paint on a house that’s leaning to one side, with broken windows and doors, in the middle of a mosquito-infested swamp.

If you really want to improve your business image—and thus, your sales—you need to improve your business. And specifically, your customer experience. Because your image is defined by your customers, not by you.

Here are nine things you can do to improve how prospects and customers think of you.

1. Get Your Customers’ Viewpoint
The first thing you need to know is how your customers currently think and feel about you. So ask them. Create focus groups. Conduct surveys. Hire a mystery shopping firm. Discover the good, the bad, and the ugly about your company through your buyers’ eyes.

2. Hire More People
There are very few universal laws, but one of them is: Everybody hates waiting. Every minute a prospect or customer has to wait, the less they like you. (And one of the things consumers share with a vengeance on social media is how long they’ve been waiting in line or on hold). So hire enough people to staff your call center, you checkout lanes, your office, to get their wait times as close to zero as possible.

3. Train Your People
Perhaps the only thing worse for a customer than not having enough people to serve them, is having to deal with an employee who doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing. Provide continual training for your people. And not just on you product or service! Train them on communication skills, customer service skills, teamwork, technology, creativity, leadership, problem solving, and more. The more skilled your employees are the better they’ll perform, and the happier customers will be.

4. Empower employees
Training employees doesn’t do much good if they aren’t allowed to use their skills. Too many companies withhold the power to take care of customers from the people who most closely interact with them. Then an employee isn’t allowed to solve a customer’s problem, both parties get frustrated at your company. Give your people the power to do whatever it takes to resolve customer issues quickly and easily. Buyers respect and appreciate it.

5. Appreciate employees
Just as customers don’t like being taken for granted, neither do employees. And when employee moral is low, they don’t serve customers well. Take great care of your employees and they’ll take great care for your customers.

6. Keep it clean
The cleanliness of your facility speaks volumes to prospects and customers about your attention to detail and you care for people’s health and comfort. That includes everything from your front entrance to your bathrooms.

7. Improve Your Product Quality
There are a number of businesses that I will probably never patronize again, regardless of their social media activity, ad campaigns, websites, or PR. Because their product sucks. How good are your products or services compares with your competition? How can you make them better?

8. Correct Other Issues
What other problems did you uncover in your customer research? What else bugs them or prevents them from buying more from you? Deal with those issue whether that means streamlining processes or redoing your website or remodeling you facility.

9. Admit Your Failings
Once you’ve improved in the above areas, then you can launch a PR/advertising/social media campaign. But the first thing you need to do in those campaigns is to admit your problems. People value honesty and authenticity. A good mea culpa goes a long way. Then you can communicate what you’ve done to improve and invite people to experience the new you.

Your business image is not like a pair of shoes that you can simply shine up with a can of polish. You’re creating your business image every single day, with every single thing you do, both positive and negative. Create more positive experiences for your customers and they’ll have a more positive image of you.

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Appetizer Ideas for Your Cocktail Hour to Make Sure Everyone Tries Everything

We’ve all been to those cocktail parties with the same-old traditional finger food appetizers. You know them by heart: pigs in blankets, chips and dip, a fruit bowl, etcetera, etcetera. There’s nothing wrong with these dishes either—I myself am a huge pig-in-blanket fan and don’t plan on ever turning down one of those little, juicy bad boys—but they leave you bored and mindlessly munching until the main course is ready.
Your party should never have a dull moment, so here are some prepared foods to make sure it doesn’t:


Mini Grilled Cheeses
Ah an ole classic from childhood. Its an easy step-by-step, ready?: Take your regular-sized gilled cheese sandwich and shrink it down to finger-food size. Then, unless you’re a strict traditionalist, throw some bling on those ‘wiches with red chili flakes, mushrooms, basil, and/or arugula. Ta-da! A childhood classic thrown through puberty for your unforgettable reception!

Deviled Egg Sandwiches
Looking for something a bit lighter with fewer calories? Consider these tasty bites that give a more relaxed mood to your cocktail party. A pretty basic how-to: 4 eggs, 2 tbsp. mayo, ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce, ¼ tsp. paprika, chives, 1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar, salt n pepper. Throw some of that between two slices of white bread and fin!

Deli Sandwiches
Here’s another classic. Deli meats with cheese and appropriate accessories provide a reliable fallback plan for potential guests who are looking for good old healthy protein basics. Of course, we’ve already established that we’re not about to have a boring cocktail hour, so keep these interesting by offering options with a multitude of options. Turkey, ham, salami—sure—hot pastrami, corned beef, grilled chicken, YES! American, cheddar—ok—Munster, swiss, provolone, GREAT! Be sure to have sauces and mayos on hand too for an extra perk.

Cups & Bites

Blue Cheese & Steak Bites
A personal favorite of mine—because steak—and it’s relatively quick to prep. Start with tiny, toasted, garlic breads sliced and topped with salty blue cheese and medium to medium-rare pieces of steak. Drizzle with a balsamic reduction and finito!

Stuffed Shells
A little messier but they pack a truckload of taste. You know those shell-shaped pastas? Find the jumbo ones and cook those to al dente. Fill ‘em with prosciutto, asparagus, garlic powder, and cheese (I suggest mozzarella, parmigiana, and ricotta). They’re SO worth some messy fingers after eating!

Cajun Shrimp & Guac Bites
Calling all avocado fans! I’ve never tried this one but I’ll be damned if I don’t go home and cook some tonight. All on a sweet potato cracker: your favorite guacamole recipe with a single large shrimp seasoned with chipotle chili, paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt. I mean, look how good that looks!:

Spinach Dip Bites
This is sure to get the kiddies to eat their vegetables. You’re making a dip out of artichoke hearts, garlic, spinach, peppers, cream cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. Scoop that into a bunch of crescent dough cups. A cute and an easy way to sneak some healthiness into all the cake and cheese eating!


Teriyaki Salmon
To start of our section of finger-foods-you-can’t-really-eat-with-your-fingers, or “Forks” as I like to call it, we have salmon bites that look so good I’m jealous I’m writing about them instead of eating them but it’s fine. You can serve these alongside steamed vegetables to make this appetizer into a mini-meal. One word of caution though, the reviews on these bites are so good, you might want to make sure your guests don’t fill up entirely on them.

Mozzarella, pepperoni, and olive bites
This app will be a nice change from the one above, where it will be much more difficult to fill up on, but will keep your party guests busy and talking. You can change-up the order you stick these on a toothpick, but for simplicity’s sake we’ll stick with olive on top, pepperoni in the middle, and mozzarella cube on the bottom. Easy, budget-conscious, and of course, taste bud-friendly.

Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites
You didn’t really think that we’d go through this entire post without mentioning bacon did you? These wrapped little guys are as easy as they sound too! Step 1: Cook potatoes, step 2: dice potatoes, step 3: season potatoes, step 4: wrap seasoned potatoes with bacon, step 5: spear with a fork or toothpick. Done!


Tomato Soup Shots
To wrap everything up, we’re gonna head back to our early companion, the grilled cheese sandwich. But here’s the twist: the grilled cheese is only a compliment to what is actually the appetizer. Pair the sandwich bites with a quick shot of tomato soup (Just make sure you try to use a soup other than Campbell’s). Another childhood classic all grown up!

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12 Common Words That Are Costing You Sales

The right words can help us make the sale, while the wrong words can blow it for us. The challenge is, often what we think are the right words are actually the wrong words.

Here are twelve words you’re probably using in your sales and marketing efforts which are—in reality—working against you:

1. “Quality”
2. “Service”
3. “Value”
4. “Performance”
5. “Unique”
6. “Leading”
7. “Premier”
8. “Results”
9. “Solutions”
10. “Best”
11. “Innovative”
12. “Excellence”

What’s the problem with these seemingly positive words? They’re clichés!

Everybody uses them, so they have no impact anymore.

Words like “premier,” “excellence” and “performance” sound good, but don’t truly mean anything. And words like “value,” “leading,” and “best” are completely subjective, so they can’t be proven or disproven. (Which is exactly why so many companies use them.)

Worse, companies with lousy quality claim their products are high quality. Companies with horrible service claim to provide great service. And while everybody wants to be “unique,” just saying you are doesn’t make it true.

When you use these words to describe your company, product or service, you sound exactly like everybody else. And that makes you a commodity. If you’re no different than your competition, there’s no reason to choose you.

Don’t rely on clichés. Give me an example of your quality. Tell a story about your service. Describe the specific results some of your customers have achieved. Prove your uniqueness with some kind of verifiable fact.

Here’s something to think about: How can you use the word “only” in your sales and marketing efforts? How can you use a measurable superlative like “largest,” “fastest” or “most?”

It seems like everybody and their brother uses clichés like they’re going out of style, but at the end of the day, if you want your sales to grow by leaps and bounds, you should avoid them like the plague.

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