For my first experience, I had the pleasure of working with a startup in Durham, North Carolina called World Class Wedding Venues. World Class Wedding Venues is an online marketing platform for venues and vendors related to the wedding industry.
I connected to the founder after we had a conversation at a Wedding Exposition that I attended with a Fuqua Graduate student that I had met in my consumer psychology class. I was helping her as a research assistant collecting information for a study focused on figuring out how people prepare for significant experiences and events in their lives. After having a conversation with the founder about her company, we exchanged numbers and set up a meeting because I offered to help with their social media and marketing strategies as well as explore if starting an ambassador program would be beneficial to the company.
I was hired in a part-time position to help with marketing strategy and offer consultation about their social media and company branding. I ended up providing recommendations that resulted in a revamp of their Instagram, I created a Pinterest, provided suggestions for content and strategy on all social media platforms that the company ended up implementing, as well as provided re-branding recommendations that resulted in a new logo and revamped the website. I also introduced Trello as a tool for the internal organization so everyone could have a clear path of communication and know what everyone in the company is working on at all times.
Much of the work I did help the company, but I also had some failures and learning experiences. I looked into starting a campus ambassador program because of my personal experience with building brand awareness. I had been an ambassador and seen many ambassadors on my campus, so I thought it could be a successful strategy. What I quickly found out was that the program that I set up was active, but it catered to the wrong audience. I did not have a network of college students who were getting married and needed the product. I learned that you might come up with an idea, but it is essential to make sure it fits in the correct context. That program was a failure, but I learned from my mistake and did research and proposed a different plan.
While studying abroad for my semester in Madrid, I continued to work part-time for World Class Wedding venues. My job was to take promotional materials to different wedding vendors, send emails, and form new partnerships. I visited sites and boutiques and introduced them to World Class Wedding Venues. While abroad I was able to secure connections with 13 new venues on our website. It was a great experience as well as great Spanish practice. I then proposed a new idea to help World Class Wedding Venues. Since I was leaving Madrid in December, no one would be there to continue the work. I suggested implementing international brand ambassador program. My team allowed me to pursue the idea and asked me to start searching for someone to hire. I interviewed three different people who all worked in the wedding industry or the event planning industry in some way. It was a different experience being on the other side of the interview process…definitely less nerve-wracking. I learned how to ask the right questions, and eventually, I found a woman who had the experience, the network, the skills, and the right attitude for the position. We ended up hiring her to be the brand ambassador representative in Spain, and the program continued for other countries. Although my first program didn’t work, I had to fail fast, not let it bother me, and see if I could implement my idea in a different context. Luckily, it worked!
The most important lessons I learned from this experience were:
Communication is vital internally between team members. Secure communication and consistent updates help everyone stay informed and work better together.
You may have great ideas, but that may not be what is best for the company at the time. If your thoughts are ignored or not implemented, it is essential not to get defeated. Understand the context and understand the time and place.
If you don’t know how to do something, ask.
If you fail, fail fast.
You can learn and grow from every experience.
Ultimately, I learned a great deal about the wedding industry. I started with no experience but had to familiarize myself with the unknown quickly. Learning about an entire industry in a short amount of time is a skill that can apply to any company that I join in the future. I learned how to market, pitch, sell, and create and execute strategies. One of the most satisfying feelings is when you finally have mastered your pitch to the point that you know it by heart. Lastly, I was thankful for the opportunity to learn about an international market and how to adjust marketing, marketing materials, the product, the pitch to the values of the country.