You Can Lead a Horse to Water...

All told I've spent around $80 on sales leads.

The Internet abounds with many of these operations that aggregate clients and contact information to sell to vendors. The vendors in turn call, e-mail or write to these potential clients to woo them with promises of beautiful days devoted to celebrating their love and the best flowers, food or photos that they could ever imagine for just the right price.

Most of that $80 has gone right down the drain.

I'm willing to admit that it could be something I'm doing wrong. There may be few that don't want to read a slightly verbose letter about how I'm a great fit for their wedding when I don't even know where it's going to take place let alone what they really want as far as photographs. They could be hitting any number of snags along the way to booking that send them somewhere else.

One problem is that these services are often a black box and it's hard to verify a lead and where it might have come from, you also aren't quite sure of where the person is in the process of wedding planning. So the e-mail or call goes out into the ether and if nothing comes back it's not clear if it's because they were overwhelmed with 100 other vendors contacting them, they didn't like your work, or because they didn't ever exist.

The fact that there are dozens of such sites out there makes it even more difficult spreading customers out thin and creating a confusing jumble of policies and practices.

It's also a disservice to couples, since they can get the feeling of someone else doing all the work for them but only be exposed to the thinnest slice of vendors out there. The proliferation of sites also makes it as tough for couples as it is for vendors, though at least the services are usually free for brides and grooms.

Lately I've had one lead service send me alerts about leads that have already sold out (the couple has already received as many inquiries as they've wanted). All of this has my mind set, no more buying leads and starting later this month I'll be rolling out some advertisements on more credible wedding Web sites where brides are looking.