Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Law of Reciprocity

[photo by Victoria Pearson]

I came across this article today and wanted to share it.  I am a BIG believer in "the law of reciprocity" and have seen it at work time and time again my my career. I am not known as a particularly patient person [but I work towards that every day!] but in business I have learned that being willing to make 'deposits' without expecting immediate withdrawals always pays off in the end. Often times, it is not immediately clear what, if anything might come out of an introduction, a new contact, a meeting...and I have have learned, that's okay.  It might be months or even years before an opportunity might present itself - but making repeated 'deposits' with no expectations of anything in return has yielded some pretty amazing results!! 

Read on:

The Law of Reciprocity.

The Law of Reciprocity means to give and take mutually, to return in kind or even in another kind or degree. The law of reciprocity simply means that when someone gives something, you feel an obligation to give back.

Stephen Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, uses the phrase “emotional bank account” to describe the principle of reciprocity and the corresponding credit-withdrawal process in relationships. Using the metaphor of a financial bank account, the emotional bank account describes the trust that accumulates in a relationship.

Like the financial bank account, you must make deposits before you can make withdrawals.

Interviewing prospects using the Law of Reciprocity.

When interviewing a potential referral source or client, ask questions that will educate about the prospect and their needs. One question that I ask all potential referral sources is this: “What is the biggest challenge in your business that you are currently facing”? The goal is not necessarily to fix their problem, but to provide them with support through an article or referring them to someone who can assist them in their area of challenge. Purposefully look for opportunities to provide information that is helpful to others.

Reciprocity is a basis of trust and a basis for legitimate power. The principle is that others will reciprocate in kind based upon the way you treated them. The world gives you what you give to the world.

Reciprocity isn’t always instantaneous, therefore persistence is vital. Even if you’ve found yourself saying, “I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work”, don’t give up. At the appropriate time you will reap a harvest. By understanding and using the power of reciprocity, you can improve your relationships and avoid mistakes that can permanently damage your relationships. In life and work, you get what you give.

A True Story.

I had a builder who insisted on using only me to do the financing for his condominium project. A top producing Realtor wrote a contract for himself on one of the units and wanted to use his lender instead of working with me. This agent had a 20 year history with his current lender and didn’t want to chance it with me doing the mortgage financing. The builder insisted that agent use me as the lender and I can tell you, the Realtor® was none too pleased. I called the Realtor® and introduced myself. I asked him to call his lender to find out what terms he would offer the agent to do his loan and I would match it, not being concerned about how much profit I was making. During the loan process, I got to know, learned to like, and earn the trust of this agent. I also learned what the challenges were that he was facing in his business.

I put him on my distribution list, sent him books that I felt would help him with the challenges in his business without looking for business in return. It took nearly a year and a half when finally, I received a call that he wanted to start working with me. He is now one of my best referral sources.

Final Thought.

Does your belief system align with the Law of Reciprocity? Are you willing to give information, ideas, and refer other professionals without the benefit of receiving? Reciprocity works well in negotiations and relationships. Be the first one to concede and come to the middle. You’ll find that it brings down the other person’s resistance and often miraculously makes them counter with a concession of their own.

Excerpted from an article by Tom Ninness, Vice President/Regional Production Manager for Cherry Creek Mortgage in Denver, CO. Ninness is the creator of the “The 90 Day Journey to Your Sales Success”, a powerful 90 day action plan for the sales professional.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Going Global!

It is official!  Just shy of our 7th anniversary, Engaging Concepts has 'gone global!'  

I am headed to Shanghai and Tokyo at the end of next week to kick off an exciting new client project.

We have been retained to create a wedding strategy for a very well-known, very large luxury hotel brand specifically in their Asia Pacific market.  This initial trip will be to research the wedding market in China & Japan, gather information and insights and begin to formulate recommendations for an overall strategy.

In the coming months - travels will take us to Singapore and additional points within the Asia Pacific region as we build out the project.

I will share much more later - Kathryn is going to keep the office up and running while I take on this trip solo -- but she will join me on some of the subsequent visits!!

Exciting on SO many levels...updates to follow!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Recap::New York Trip!

Whew!  Back from a whirlwind 3 days in NYC earlier this week and digging out from being gone from the office!  Was a great trip and jam packed with wonderful and productive industry meetings!

Here are some of the highlights:

The Wedding Salon event was really well done - Tatiana Byron and her team continue to outdo themselves with this event with well over 1,000 high-end brides and planners in attendance.  Media covered it in a big way - from all the local NY affiliates to the New York Times, Access Hollywood and more!  

While there we connected with so many industry friends!  Great to see David Tutera, Sylvia Weinstock, wedding PR guru Eda Kalkay [a new friend!], senior editors of TheKnot Rebecca Crumley and Christa Vagnozzi, Holli and Robert Ehrlich of Wedding Podcast Network, Zev Greenfield of Milk & Honey Productions and meet our 'booth buddies' next door to Cayman - floral designers  Aisling Studios who just wrapped the wedding scene for the "Sex and the City" movie!!

We then enjoyed a FAB dinner at the uber-hot Waverly Inn with Marcy Blum...too bad that the paparazzi did not want to snap our photos when we got out of the cab! We offered though!  Evidently JLo and Marc were spotted there days before we were and it is nightly parade of the 'who's who' - leave it to Marcy to get us in and regale us with stories and introductions all around!  Loved it!

The next day we had another amazing lunch with Sean Low, president of Preston Bailey Designs at Tabla and talked all about engage!08 as well getting updated on all of Preston's latest adventures around the globe!!  From Casablanca to Jakarta - and to Dubai in between!  So excited for PB to share stories with us in June!

Grabbed coffee [and cookies] with Jay Klanfer of Elite Wedding Collection and heard all about his latest ventures.  Always great to see him!!

Then some meetings with our friends at Chowder Inc. - the totally cool ad agency of record for Cayman - always a treat!!

We then headed over to Kleinfeld to meet up with dear, dear friend Randy Fenoli, their fashion director. The tv crew was wrapping up from a day of shooting the second season of "Say Yes to the Dress" which has been a huge hit and helped to keep the brides lining up outside the doors of Kleinfeld to search for their perfect gown!! While many in the bridal retail industry have reported tougher times of late - Kleinfeld continues to go from strength to strength!  We enjoyed catching up with owners Mara Urshel and Ronnie Rothstein - they are just delightful!  A lovely dinner followed in Chelsea with Randy as he shared his take on the latest bridal collections viewed the week before and then we collapsed for the night!!

Wednesday brought my first visit to the charming and brilliant Wedding Library by Claudia Hanlin and Jennifer Zabinski -- Kath has been raving about it to me for years!!!  Claudia got in touch with me while we were up there and we all quickly synced our schedules to sit down face to face to learn more about each other.  As you can imagine - the time flew by and we had much to chat about!! Love, love, love their concept - and am really excited for all of the plans they have for the future - time very well spent!!

So that is it in a nutshell...our very enjoyable, jam-packed few days in NYC. Always a pleasure to connect with old friends and new.  Great to see everyone - looking forward to continued successes and potential partnerships in the future!!!

Signed - a totally exhausted but still exhilarated,


p.s. Couture Map of New York by my FAVORITE calligrapher Stephanie Barba. 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Updates on engage!08

Lots of great updates over on the engage!08 Blog so be sure to check them out. Highlights include the announcement of speaker Harmony Walton of The Bridal Bar in L.A. and an update on the response so far - overwhelming and exciting!!  

The official website and registration procedure has been updated as well. Be sure to stop by and check them both out.

Off to New York:: Wedding Salon and more!

Kathryn and I are headed off to New York for The Wedding Salon event at Gotham Hall on Monday night where clients The Cayman Islands and Royal Plantation are participating.  We will also have a number of meetings while there and connect with some of our favorite industry people!!

If you are planning on attending the event, look for us!  We will share a full report after we return.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Knot Survey: Latest Insights, Stats and Much More!

The Knot Unveils Annual Real Weddings Survey Results

Largest-of-Its-Kind Survey of 20,000+ Recently Wed Couples Reveals Unparalleled Insight into the Bridal Consumer, from Spending Patterns to Style Preferences

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Knot Inc. (NASDAQ: KNOT), the owners of The Knot Wedding Network (which includes the Internets most-trafficked wedding websites and communities and,) conducted a massive survey in 2007 to capture detailed feedback on wedding spending, style preferences, event characteristics, and other key information related to the bridal demographic.

The survey, administered by Harris Interactive, is the second annual Real Weddings Survey conducted by The Knot Inc. It polled nearly 22,000 individualsof mixed ethnicities, income, and education levelsacross 50 US states, making it the largest survey of its kind ever.


  • $27,882 is the average wedding budget in the US (not including the honeymoon). Including the honeymoon, the average wedding budget in the US is $32,660.
  • The bulk of the average wedding budget is dedicated to the reception venue ($12,722, or 45%); followed by the reception band ($4,105 on average, or 15%); and photographer ($2,651 on average, or 9.5% of the total average wedding budget).
  • In 2007 vs. 2006, couples spent 35% more on their wedding cake (average $692 vs. $514), 17% more on their reception venue (average $12,722 vs. $10,857), and 18% more on their reception band ($4,105 vs. $3,465).
  • The brides parents (44%) and the bride and groom (43%) are paying for the majority of weddings.
  • The average cost of a wedding gown is $1,317 (NYC brides spent the most at $2,206).
  • The average cost of a wedding photographer is $2,651 (Long Island brides spend the most on photography at $4,550).


  • The average wedding guest list is 153 people, nearly the same as 2006. (Wisconsin brides have the largest weddings, averaging 189 invitees).
  • Brides are not prolonging their engagements; the average wedding-planning period is 11 months. New York brides are engaged the longest (13.1 months), while Las Vegas brides have the shortest engagements (9.1 months).
  • Weddings are getting less formal: Weddings are split in terms of formality: 66% were characterized as semi-formal as compared to 45% in 2006 and 20% are characterized as formal/black tie, down from 42% in 2006.
  • The average bridal party in 2007 was comprised of 4 bridesmaids and 4 groomsmen.
  • The groom is significantly involved in planning: 36% of grooms were very involved and 57% of grooms were somewhat involved
  • Reception venues of choice in 2007 were reception halls (29%), hotel (19%), club (yacht, country, etc.) (16%), restaurants (9%), historic mansions (7%), with the remaining 20% going to parks and gardens, museums and cultural centers, private homes, loft and raw spaces, and other reception venues.
  • The most important reception venue features were: a great space for dancing (81%), a picturesque backdrop for photos (65%), an outdoor area for cocktails (52%), a breathtaking view (39%), and a waterside location (25%).


  • Destination weddings are more popular: With a destination wedding characterized as 200 or more miles away from where the bride and groom live (including non US locations) and at least 80% of guests requiring overnight accommodations approximately 1 in 10 couples have a destination wedding (8-10%).
  • Approximately 25% of destination weddings occur outside the US.
  • 20% of couples are traveling at least 200 miles from where they reside to get married.


  • Couples spent 8% more on their photographers in 2007 vs. 2006 ($2,651 vs. $2,466).
  • A mix of traditional and photojournalistic photography is what most (71%) couples desire, while 18% chose to place emphasis on candid photos.
  • There was a 61% increase in use of digital-only photography at weddings.


Top reception band and music style choices in 2007 were rock-and-roll/Motown (37%) and big band/swing/jazz (21%).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Announcing: engage!08

At long last!  We are thrilled to announce engage!08. The official 'emma-powered' email blast has been sent and we are already overwhelmed at the response!! Hard to believe that we have already signed up participants from coast -to-coast and 3 different countries in just the first few hours.  Wow.

engage!08 is set for Tuesday, June 3rd in Celebration, FL and is designed to be a high-impact wedding business symposium for the luxury wedding professional.  

An intimate event featuring none other than Preston Bailey, Marcy Blum, Susan MoynihanLiene Stevens, Christine Boulton and of course - me! With special guest, Simon T. Bailey, author of the best selling book "Release Your Brilliance!"

For ALL the details, be sure to:
More to follow - but we are really looking forward to meeting many of you for an 'engaging day' of inspiration, idea sharing, networking and more! 

Monday, April 14, 2008

From MediaWeek:: "Here Comes the Bride"

Lots and Lots of wedding business stories in the media lately!  A sure relation to the recession-proof wedding industry and therefore highly desirable target for any business!! Here is a piece from today's issue of MEDIAWEEK with some interesting observations/insights from WE-TV:

Here Comes The Bride: WE courts buyers with data on spend-happy viewers

Anthony Crupi >>
APRIL 14, 2008 - 

For many women in the 18-49 demo, weddings are pretty much the Oscars and the lunar landing all wrapped up in taffeta and tulle, representing the ne plus ultra of romance and oversized cake. As it prepares to walk down the upfront aisle, WE TV is readying a new research pitch that will give clients fresh insight into the values held by its core viewers and how those beliefs influence their buying habits.

According to findings in a new study conducted on behalf of the network by Frank N. Magid Associates, 49 percent of WE viewers can be characterized as "I Do-ers," a segment that includes women who respond positively to the trappings of matrimony, have an interest in wedding-themed shows and report that they are in the midst of a major lifestyle transition. 

The latter condition refers specifically to what WE defines as "accumulation stages," distinct periods that tend to coincide with increased consumer spending. When a woman gets married, has a baby or buys a home, such milestones are very often commemorated with big-ticket purchases.

As the so-called I Do-ers are avid consumers and more likely to watch WE's bridal-related programming (the network has sprinkled wedding fare throughout its prime-time schedule like so much flung rice), this segment is particularly attractive to WE's advertisers.

"Weddings are a 'life passion' for women, and they respond to them in the same way that men associate with sports," said Kim Martin, executive vp and general manager of WE. "And it's not limited to a participatory interest either. Only 5 percent of women 18-54 get married every year, so the appeal goes beyond just women who are in the middle of the process."

In order to sate the wedding-hungry horde, WE is expanding its bridal lineup with a fifth season of Bridezillas and a third order of Platinum Weddings. (Both series return June 1.) Also on the calendar is Amazing Wedding Cakes, a new six-part series debuting in September.

According to Scott Collins, senior vp, ad sales at WE, I Do-ers are particularly interested in nonendemic categories, a finding that could help broaden the network's client base. 

"I Do-ers are buying gaming systems and MP3 players, which flies in the face of the notion that women aren't interested in gadgets," Collins said. "And while beauty and cosmetics are obviously a good fit for the brand, we're also talking to KFC."

"What I tell the media companies is… show me something that further dimensionalizes your viewers," said Lyle Schwartz, managing partner of research and marketplace analysis, Mediaedge:cia. "This is a great example of the kind of insight we're always looking for."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rueters: Weddings Weather Economic Woe

New York weddings weather economic woe

By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investment bank bailouts, home foreclosures and job losses have spread economic gloom through America but in New York, at least, there's one industry still weathering the storm -- high-end weddings. Cake makers, florists, wedding planners and dress-makers at a wedding show this month said brides were still determined to enjoy their big day with almost no expense spared.

While some couples were cutting back on non-essentials, for example having only two bridesmaids instead of four, most vendors at the New York magazine Weddings Showcase in Manhattan said they were yet to see a serious dip in business. "So far I would say compared to last year, this year people seem to be spending just as much," said Amy Salvini-Swanson, co-owner of Greenwich Letterpress, which offers invitations at anywhere from $600 to $1,200 for 100. Her co-owner, Beth Salvini, added: "People still get married during recessions. It's a safe bet, people still need invitations."

Read entire Article Here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

FAB new Site and Blog: Details Details

Check out the GORGEOUS new website and Blog from the CA-based wedding and event planning firm Details Details!  They have also updated their Blog and it is amazing as well. Sets the bar very high for other wedding planning and design professionals...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

From Kiplinger: Is The Wedding Industry Recession Proof

Wedding Businesses to Profit from a Rush to the Altar

The sluggish economy isn't about to deter scores of lovebirds from tying the knot this year -- and spending to do it in style.

Friday, April 4, 2008

NY Times: "A Bouquet and a Space Heater"

Amid my 'March Madness' I somehow missed this interesting New York Times article on the trend towards wedding bookings spreading throughout the year instead of being so focused on the more 'traditional' seasons of spring, summer and fall.  

I pulled out some interesting excerpts below but you can read the whole piece here.

A Bouquet and a Space Heater

by Kathryn Shattuck for the New York Times

>>"TRYING to analyze the seasonal trends in weddings is a little like trying to gauge how rapidly the polar ice caps are melting. But as temperatures rise, wedding vendors and couples are beginning to look toward that once-frosty patch between November and March with all the optimism once saved for spring."

>>Bookings from November to March at the Foundry have nearly tripled since 2005, said Allison Du Val, the site’s managing director. “People seem to be more willing to wing it,” she said of the winter-month increase. “Some people enjoy the winter, and a lot of people want to avoid a really sticky August.”

>>The Abigail Kirsch Group operates several New York-area party spaces, including one at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, two at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan and one at Stage 6 at the Steiner Studios in Brooklyn. Of the group, only the Botanical Garden saw a rise in winter bookings this year, said Dawn Cimoch, the group’s corporate marketing manager. But
all have tripled winter bookings for 2009, she said, adding that she thinks that is because of the confidence inspired by this winter’s temperate turn.

>>There’s less price elasticity on the Manhattan side of the East River, said
Marcy Blum, a wedding and party planner. She quoted studies showing that ceremonies cost more or less the same, regardless of the season.

“Tenting an entire space can be prohibitively expensive,” she said. “With the warmer weather, you can just put up a canopy or a marquee or something less all-encompassing and space heaters, and people will be perfectly comfortable.”

>>Off-peak does translate into savings at Oheka Castle in Huntington, N.Y. Winter
weddings in this palatial Long Island estate, which was once owned by the financier Otto Hermann Kahn, have been booking more quickly the last two years — and not because people able to spend $80,000 (average for the site) up to several hundred thousand dollars on a wedding necessarily need to save $15,000 or $20,000.

The weather has been a lot more cooperative,” said Kelly Melius, president and director of sales and marketing for the estate. Even with snow on the ground and fireplaces roaring, the estate’s outdoor spaces are increasingly being opened up in the winter, she said, recalling a spring-like day in December 2006 when a couple decided to move their vows and reception outside.

“I almost hate to say it,” Ms. Melius said, sighing. “The weather may be bad for the environment, but it’s very good for business.”

I am curious - has anyone else noticed this trend in markets outside of NYC???

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Client Focus: Sandals Unveils New Preston Bailey Collections

I blogged about my trip to Jamaica at the end of January with Preston Bailey to shoot his two new collections and conduct on-site training for client Sandals Resorts. I am thrilled to [finally!] be able to showcase a few of the images [taken on location by *hot* photography talent Scarlett Lillian] of the collections.

Keep in mind that this ground-breaking partnership, launched in 2005, was the first time that a celebrity wedding designer like Preston had designed wedding decor that was affordable to any bride and groom.  Starting at only $1,700 these collections have been wildly successful and helped  'raised the bar' on the entire Sandals Resorts WeddingMoon experience.

The two new collections are all designed with fresh flowers and the highest quality linens and accessories.  Of course - they are made complete with wedding cakes designed by the one and only Sylvia Weinstock!!

Introducing the "Sea Mist" collection and the "Caribbean Sunset" collection by Preston Bailey for Sandals and Beaches Resort.

Client Focus: Cayman Islands Campaign

Pleased to showcase the just launched campaign for long-time Engaging Concepts client The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism on both The Knot and WeddingChannel!  This is a custom-designed sitelet that showcases the various destination wedding styles available on each the 3 islands.  It features a highly interactive map along with galleries of various hot spots to marry on each island.  

Brides can also enter to win a honeymoon  [or romantic getaway!] at the gorgeous Westin Casuarina Grand Cayman with airfare provided by Cayman Airways!  

Special thanks to the team at Cayman advertising agency CHOWDER for working on this with us to pull together all of the behind the scenes logistics and of course the design team at The Knot who truly captured the spirit of destination weddings in The Cayman Islands!  We look forward to successful results from this initiative on behalf of our client.