Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Weddings Are a Racket

When I started performing weddings in 2006 I had no idea that this would become my main gig. That's how it has shaken down, though, and I have been ridiculously fortunate. I get far more requests than I can take, I work with happy people, I get to be useful, and I work in gorgeous settings all around the Hill Country.

Louis Pasteur said, "Chance favors the prepared mind." Going with a variation on that theme, once I decided to shift performing weddings from my sideline work to my bread-and-butter, I got my butt in gear. Over the past three years or so, I've worked with a friend who coaches me on SEO, I've played around with advertising, I've courted reviews (which I used to wince at the notion of, but apparently all the kids are doing it these days). The payoff has been great. And so I have transitioned from hippy business owner-- just figuring things would take care of themselves-- to someone more organized. I now have a bookkeeper (amen!) and some actual infrastructure to keep track of my clients. 

Yesterday, I decided on a next step. I'd been looking at my Google Analytics, and noting that one place I advertise-- The Knot, which is sort of a virtual mega-mall for brides-- was generating very few leads. On the advice of my SEO coach, I called to suspend my account, to see if it would affect my leads. If not, then I'd cancel and save around $1000 per year. If so, then I would resume advertising. 

The phone calls I had to endure were just another reminder of how fucking haywire the world has gone. I had a simple request-- turn off my account-- and, as is so often the case with customer service these days, I was greeted on the frontline by a young pit bull of a rep who was not going to hear me out. Because I am a bait taker, instead of just being silent until I had my request met, I decided to engage (pardon the pun) with her. She wanted to know why. I explained the user interface had changed, that even I could not easily find a way to view my advertisement as potential clients might, and that all the changes they made pretty much sucked. I also told her I'd analyzed stats on my end and they just weren't delivering. 

She went on to chastise me for not participating in their free webinars. Really. Can you even say webinar without giggling madly? So they want me to pay them a pile of money and then take classes on how to use their product which, in essence, should be a simple advertisement? 

I asked about 70 more times for the manager and finally I was put on hold for a good spell and then, no surprise, disconnected. I called again, and finally got a supervisor whose tone wasn't as bad. But she, too, did a full-court press, telling me what I was missing by leaving. Again-- I am so stupid sometimes-- I took the bait and told her how their competition, Wedding Wire, was just way easier to use and yielded me much better results. 

It was like I'd set a jealous, negligent lover into a rage. I got a lecture on all that I'd be missing by leaving. I repeated I was leaving. I was sent a follow-up email listing point for point how badly my life was going to turn out if I walked away. I responded, reiterating that I was done, and that I was better off spending my advertising dollars elsewhere. In this last note, I mentioned that Wedding Wire sends me 90 million leads. 

I'll spare y'all the entire email exchange, but let's pick up with where the supervisor sends me a note back asking me to back up this claim of 90 million leads, shall we? 

HER: Spike,
One thing I forgot to ask.  Can you please explain the 90 million leads from Wedding Wire?  Are those actual brides that are interested in YOUR specific services, or are you receiving a list of brides that are joining WeddingWire?  That seems like a lot…just curious

You're fucking kidding me, right? Let me spell it out for you-- I specifically chose the number 90 million because it is, in fact, a preposterous number. Armed, as I am, with an English degree from the prestigious University of South Florida, I do, from time to time, whip out my poet's license and engage in what is known as hyperbole. If you are unfamiliar, this is a rhetorical device in which the writer or speaker (in this instance me) conveys to the reader or listener (in this case you) a point by using great exaggeration. You can go here to find a ton* of other examples of hyperbole.

Since you're holding my feet to the fire in your demand that I substantiate my claim of 90 million leads, I will take still more time I don't have educating you. The truth is-- and I hope you're sitting down-- that Wedding Wire does not in fact send me 90 million leads. They do send me A LOT of leads. Far, far more than The Knot sends me. Exponentially more. 

I want you to know that yesterday, when I placed the call to your company, I did have it in mind to ask about possibly just suspending my account and seeing if that made a significant difference in my leads. I figured it wouldn't, but keeping my options open to resume advertising a few months down the line seemed like not a bad idea. Now that I have had to deal with Belligerent B____, and have been lectured by you both on the phone and in multiple follow-up emails, you can be certain that I will not be back at the Knot. I would sooner wear a sandwich board with nothing underneath it and parade around those ridiculous "Bridal Extravaganzas" than work with a company that uses client bullying as a technique. 

I recently purchased the url WeddingsAreARacket.com, which I am planning to use to expose people in the business who exist to convince brides that if they don't have fifty million accoutrements (that's French) their wedding will suck and they will live unhappily ever after. Lucky for you I am so busy performing weddings right now that I probably won't get around to starting that website for awhile. But I'd like to thank you and especially B___, for offering me fodder for my first post. I love coming out of the gates strong, and I'm sure the story of my experience with y'all will easily help me toward that end.

I ask now that you cease and desist with your ridiculous emails. I am going outside to play in the sunshine and revel in the fact that I am not in one of your webinars. 

*in this instance, "a ton" is also an example of hyperbole. Clever, right? And since we're swapping education tips-- you on the importance of me continuing to pay money for advertising that doesn't work, and me on the amazing wonders of the English language-- let me teach you one more thing. When I use hyperbole in my definition of hyperbole, this is called being meta. I'm going to let you look that one up on your own. 
p.s. Yes, this note does, in fact, contain some sarcasm, yet another rhetorical device, although in New Jersey it's just how they talk regularly.


Cecily said...


ed carter said...

nice one!!
hey call me and put the apr 27th on the cal for a party at chez ed (thats french for super pals annual house party)



becky said...

hahahah Kate just sent this to me and I am laughing right now. Well done, Spike.

Sofia Nevarez said...

Love it! Good for you. :)

I got pulled into The Knot early on in our engagement and I quickly realized they were not our kind of people (they listed wedding cakes with geeky themes as horrible ideas, wtf??).

Thankfully, I rediscovered Off Beat Bride and that's where I found you. <3