As part of our second getDigital podcast: the Back-to-Business series, we spoke to Saheli Mirpuri, founder and director of the award-winning wedding planning company Saheli Events about her journey in as a wedding planner, the marketing strategies she has explored as part of the brand and what has worked vs. what hasn’t. Keep reading for more!
ago after having worked in the events industry, the turning point of starting her own business came after feeling as though she wasn’t growing anymore in the employment world and knew she wanted something different, she that meant not working for someone else.
Like with every new business, you are your own accountant, marketing specialist, HR department and more, all whilst juggling the day-to-day tasks, the success of which Saheli puts down to ‘a lot of lists, spreadsheets and plans’ as well as ‘kind-of winging it’ she jokes, “You have to set yourself certain deadlines, little goals.”
With ‘getDigital: Back to Business’ being a podcast centred around all things business innovation and digital marketing, we asked Saheli how she has explored both traditional, offline marketing, as well as digital marketing…
“Initially, you have no idea what’s going to work,” she explains “you see all sorts of companies trying different things but it really does change depending on who you are, and what your business is. We tried exhibitions, blogs, vlogs, social media marketing, everything you can to get your name out there..”
Saheli goes onto explain that as a wedding planning business, the exhibitions didn’t work for, though the networking side of it was high beneficial, as you quickly realise in the events industry how important word of mouth is. The team at Saheli Events found it didn’t work because, from a wedding planning perspective, the exhibition defeats the point of having a wedding planner who will organise everything for you; if the exhibition is good, you could plan and arrange your whole day whilst you’re there, and when you’re there as a planner it doesn’t really work, but again, met many contacts and suppliers to work with in the future.
When it comes to digital marketing, the team at Cincera has assisted Saheli to produce two video series’. “Initially, I didn’t think about videos until Bhavik mentioned it. I thought being on screen would make me feel really exposed and awkward with everyone judging, but as soon as you’re in front of the camera you feel very comfortable and actually begin to enjoy telling people about what you’re about, people get to know you better. It’s like when you watch TV.”
Saheli tells us that “The first series, ‘Simply Saheli’, was mainly me on screen giving tips and advice to couples via short videos which was great and many of the potential clients, people who watched already knew who I was. Though, I found it difficult to trace whether they came to me through the video, or whether they already knew me? But there was much more feedback and that really helped with establishing the brand, and awareness.”
“Series 2, Sit Back with Saheli, was all inspired by the Indian chatshow Koffee w/ Karan, where we go behind the scenes with suppliers, it’s not just short videos just telling people tips and advice because you can just Google it. We wanted to get suppliers on screen, get everyone’s personality across and show the relationships we have with those people. What we found was that a lot of the clients never actually see those faces so they enjoy seeing who’s running the show, it makes them feel like they’re becoming more familiar with the supplier even before meeting them. This form of marketing has been really helpful, we release an episode every month, we can see viewers are growing, people are excited, they look forward to the next one.”
We love the concept and method behind Sit Back with Saheli and how it show so well how Saheli is connected within the industry and that she’s working with a certain calibre of clients.
Bhavik then asks, “What do you think you have done that’s innovative and has worked?”
“I do want to do a lot more, like Saheli School of Events, hopefully launching at the end of the year to educate people who want to go into events and also those who want to join my team. Otherwise event days feel like marketing in themselves, people get to see you in action and as a result end up booking you to plan their events!”
She continues; “I think it’s so important to network, when I launched the business it was one of the first things I started doing, going to networking events, joining networking events, you learn so much from people around you who have their own businesses, it also saves you going through those struggles, you don’t feel alone which is so common, and not a lot of people understand what you’re going through. It’s like a whole bunch of people you can go to, to get advice from, which help you to feel like it’s normal to feel the way you do when you first start a business.”
With Saheli Events being such an innovative brand which requires a lot of originality when planning weddings, we then asked how she gets creative in her work…
“At the moment we use lots of moodboard and take inspiration from other weddings, but we’re hoping to launching a personality quiz, which we want all couples to answer so that we know all the strange little, facts and quirks of our couples and use them as nuggets to tailor their events to them and make it personal, not just a beautiful Instagram wedding.”
A perfect example of this is the Hot-air-balloon vidai (farewell ceremony) Saheli helped put together for a recent Hindu wedding. She tells us that the groom came up with the idea and they managed to keep it a surprise for over a year, but with the weather being so unpredictable they didn’t know until the day if it was going to fly or not but it did. Saheli tells us that they did the traditional coconut breaking and returning shoes back to the groom rituals in Hindu weddings by the balloon instead of a car, which we think is brilliantly innovative.
With regards to future plans, Saheli is now headed in the direction of destination weddings, the corporate world of events, which we cannot wait to see more of!
To finish off the interview, we asked Saheli five quick-fire questions, having taken inspiration from her show, Sit Back with Saheli;
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
“From my dad, never say no or I don’t know. Always, I’ll you know or I’ll figure it out. And I think it makes everyone around you feel more positive.”
Describe yourself as a teenager in three words.
“Unrealistic, fun and outgoing.
Dark, milk or white chocolate?
If your house was on fire which two things would you grab?
“My phone and my laptop.”
Who’s wedding would you have liked to plan, or would you like to plan?
It would definitely be one of these beautiful Bollywood celebrities, either an Anusha-Virat wedding or a Deepika-Ranveer wedding. But Ranbir and Alia, let’s see!”
“What’s one-piece advice you’d give to someone starting a business?”
“Following up from what I mentioned about feeling very lonely in business, it can be demoralising, you have to be your biggest fan, you have to constantly give yourself that daily motivation, because you know that end goal is there which is why you started this in the first place. 100% believe in yourself. But when I say your biggest fan, be as wild a fan as you need.”
Some great advice and a great chat, we think! Check out Saheli’s latest video series here, and you can find the podcast episode with Saheli here.
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