After 20 years in the wedding and hospitality industry, I have invested in and paid for all sorts of advertising and marketing, from print and digital to sponsorships and "volunteerships"--and more.
Some were necessary "learning curves" that I will never duplicate again, some were the "necessary evils" to get my name in front of influential individuals and contacts, but all were an opportunity to learn more about where I should invest my time and money going forward.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned in my professional life was what I learned from my job as assistant public relations and events coordinator for Nordstrom, the big retailer. The lesson I learned there about the art of engagement was only enhanced by the foundation I'd already had by the way I was raised. It is mastering the art of diplomacy, considering oneself an ambassador to all, and to never burn any bridges.
The most important lesson of all was "to be present and pay attention." This lesson/art is based on "old-fashioned" values that transcend technology, but at the same time can use technology to jump-start authentic connection (and branding) like never before.
When you pay attention, you are paying attention to the human element. You reach out. You connect. And in a world that is increasingly disconnected, not paying attention, easily distracted, stressed-out and in desperate need of the human element, paying attention to the human story and journey of colleagues and clients is essential. Engagement with them on that level and making business personal is fundamental marketing and brand-building at its best.
With automated apps and services you can “pay” to engage for you on social media, but I think the true champions in business still make an effort to personally read what their industry colleagues and clients are doing and provide a legitimate, real response of some kind as often as they can. There is no doubt it takes work and time. But that is what makes someone who really cares and pays attention stand out.
People truly never forget how you made them feel, for better or for worse. In a world that is so disconnected, being someone who is connected builds trust. Trust builds relationships. Relationships build business.
Kerry Lee Doehr is CEO/founder and CEO of event planning business Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings and Events, as well as Engaging Inspiration, a business dedicated to marketing, events and training for the special event and hospitality professional. She is committed to progress in the industry that goes beyond trend and design, saying, "Who we are and how we handle ourselves ethically is more of a barometer to business longevity and branding than all the money in the world spent on advertising."