When Faye Cornhill discovered that a career in media would involve years spent making no money, she worked for a series of totally unglamorous technology and logistics companies in sales. Along the way, she mastered the art of corporate selling and storytelling.
Now, at The Wedding Business Club, Faye helps her fellow wedding business owners regularly attract and book big ticket wedding clients. She helps people embrace an abundant mindset, raise their rates without losing business, and get answers to all of their toughest questions.
Today, Faye joins the podcast to talk about how storytelling can help you sell in any industry, why you don’t need to have all the answers all the time to offer an amazing membership, and how to escape the scarcity mindset, no matter what your niche is.
- How selling with stories and capturing attention transcends any niche.
- Why Faye was concerned that the membership model wouldn’t work for her – and how she created a membership to solve the problems she had as she launched her own wedding photography business.
- How Faye’s membership site has helped her clients weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Why owning your story and your experience is the most important thing you can do in your business.
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- “The ones who hang on right now are the ones that will succeed big time.” – Faye Cornhill
- “Sometimes the success is sitting in the discomfort of the unknowing.” – Shelli Varela
TranscriptRead The Transcript
Shelli Varela: Faye Cornhill, welcome to the It’s a TRIBE Thing Podcast. Buddy, how are you?
Faye Cornhill: I’m really good. Thank you. Thank you for having me. This is fun.
Shelli Varela: Such a pleasure. I loved hearing your pre-story and I’m definitely excited to share it with our audience because I know that there’s a ton of stuff that they’re going to be able to take out and use and see themselves in your story. So, it’s going to be action-packed, super inspiring for our people. But first of all, if you would be so kind to start with who you are, what you do, and who you serve.
Faye Cornhill: So, yeah, like you said, my name is Faye Cornhill and I run a membership called The Wedding Business Club. And it is a club that helps people who run businesses in the wedding industry to build successful and profitable businesses.
Shelli Varela: Incredible. And so, when we were chatting before we started, I loved hearing your backstory and where you started. So, for those people who right now are hearing about memberships for the first time perhaps or they have one that they’re looking to grow like you did, can you start at the beginning of your story, who you were before you had the membership site or before you even knew about sort of online platforms, digital marketing, and being able to build a life and business of your dreams? Who were you before all of that?
Faye Cornhill: Oh, gosh, that sounds like a long time ago. It’s making me feel old. So, yeah, I studied Media Studies at university and I wanted to work in TV. That was my thing, TV or radio or newspapers. I’ve always really loved this idea of like telling stories. As a child, I was like the kid who tried to make the guests at the Christmas party laugh but I always really loved communicating with people. I love talking to people. I’d rather pick up a phone and send a text. And so, I have my heart set on working in media. I didn’t really know how that would work out for me but it’s safe to say that that bubble like burst when I graduated because I quickly realized that I’d have to work for no money. Whilst I don’t particularly aspire to have a lavish lifestyle, I did have a certain series of things I wanted to achieve in my life. I love to travel and travel is not cheap. And I knew that that wasn’t going to be how I was going to make my fortune. So, I basically gave up on that dream and I went and pursued what my grandma would call a proper job. So, I worked a proper job. So, I worked in corporate sales for 10 years. I worked for a series of totally unglamorous companies, a Japanese tech company, a logistics company. And, yeah, I cut my teeth in the world of corporates, and specifically corporate selling, which, of course, is all about telling story. So, it suited me fine.
Shelli Varela: Let me ask you this, as we’re talking about, you so casually said, “I worked in all different kinds of industries,” and I’m always so interested in chasing the thread of the tapestry all the way back because you were talking about even as a little girl, you had this knack, this skill for not only telling stories but for guiding attention. How do you think selling and selling with stories and guiding people’s attention transcends the niche that you’re in? So, you were talking about a tech company and all different areas that you sort of worked in with respect to corporate sales. How did that skill that you garnered just intuitively and naturally as a little girl transcend to what you ended up doing in all the different areas?
Faye Cornhill: Such a good question. I think it’s about I said this before like I personally and I do think my people learn from hearing stories like I would much rather learn how to do something if someone told me a story about how it failed for them, and then how they overcame that failure, and it became the success. That would work for me. That would hit the spot. And that’s exactly what I do with my audience. Like the members of my club, they’ve heard it all. What’s an all about all of the things that have gone wrong in my business? And I can explain to them, “Hey, listen, don’t do it the way I did it. Here’s this fun shortcut over here. Come and take this one instead.” And teaching by storytelling I think is hugely important. My audience don’t want to feel like they sat in a classroom. It has to be more than that.
Shelli Varela: Well, I love what you said about using what you have and what you know, in a way, to highlight and to, in a way, almost nurture it to create something brand new. So, for all of those people listening, you went to school for TV and media and while it seems unrelated on the outset, your abilities and your skills to be able to amalgamate all of those things kind of led you to what you’re doing now. You were saying earlier in our pre-chat that you created the site that you wished existed for you before you started. Can you say more about that?
Faye Cornhill: Yeah, absolutely. So, I’ll be honest. I wasn’t sure that a membership model would work for me. I’m sure you hear from so many people. I couldn’t quite see how it would work. Like it ticked all the boxes for me, the concept of it felt right, but I couldn’t quite see how I could translate that to what I was doing and how I was doing it. The truth is when I started my business, there wasn’t much support out there that could really help me hit the road running quickly. And so, before I started teaching and training people in the wedding industry, I ran and still do run a wedding photography business. That’s how I learned my trade. Even at that stage, I was always so keen to offer people the thing that I wanted when I got married. So, I’ve carried that business model from my photography business now into my teaching and education business for people in the wedding industry. So, looking back and saying, “Okay. Well, what were the problems that I was facing when I was at that stage? What did I need?” And that’s exactly what I did with my membership. I said, “Where was I struggling in the early days of running my business? What do those people need?” And that’s what I came up with.
Shelli Varela: That’s such a key point because oftentimes I’ll hear people say, “Well, it would be great to have a membership,” and I’m hearing about all of these people that have these successful memberships in all different kinds of niches. But I’m not an expert. And to your point, you only need to be a handful of steps ahead. And oftentimes, it’s helpful if you have struggled in the very thing that you have come to teach. Because not only are you teaching the topic of like the wedding business, but you’re also teaching people how to save time and save money.
Faye Cornhill: Yeah, absolutely.
Shelli Varela: Yeah. It really does break down to something much simpler, but you don’t necessarily need to be 1,000 steps ahead of somebody. In fact, in some cases, that can make you unrelatable. So, creating things that you need.
Faye Cornhill: Yeah. I think there’s so much more to it than just like having curriculum, isn’t it? Like, it’s amazing if somebody can give you tangible steps like go and do X, Y, Z in your business and this is the result. The thing that’s so important about my membership and it was really something that I got from TRIBE was this unfaltering community, this place where people can just lean in and say, “I don’t feel great.” I don’t need a spreadsheet to sort this out. I just need some like-minded people to listen in when I say I’m having a tough time with it. And I’ll be honest, that has really been the most important thing right now this year because the 2020 situation has affected the wedding industry in ways that we would never have been able to foresee and community is more important than ever before. And sometimes you just need to have a little grumble and then pick yourself up and go right back to the plan. Tell me what I need to do next to my business. So, facilitating a space where people can learn and be motivated and be inspired, be educated, but also just like I need a friendly face is priceless.
Shelli Varela: Well, you bring up an absolutely genius point where as the people who are in your membership sites who are learning from you are human beings who are struggling with all different kinds of things, right? You’re not teaching a robot. You’re teaching somebody who perhaps looks at social media and says, “Well, everybody else has such a perfect life and by comparison, like I’m nothing or I’m not killing it the way other people are.” But to your point, when you pay attention to all of the things that you had to overcome, and then went on to create the membership site that would have served you best, the sort of intangible part of that is what I’m hearing is not only do you have the roadmap of the nuts and bolts of what to do, the practical tactical application, but you also understand the fear or the frustration or the overwhelm that the person who’s running the membership site feels.
Faye Cornhill: Yeah, 100%. Like, I always refer to myself as the captain of the ship and our ship is our membership. But no captain has all the answers. No captain is prepared for every weather situation that they will face like I did not know COVID was around the corner and would cancel every single wedding within an inch of its life for the whole of the summer season. I can’t predict that stuff. What I can do is be there to help support and guide and tell people like the ones who hang on right now are the ones that will succeed big time and that’s what most people needed to hear right now, and I’m quite happy to be that person that says, “I don’t have all the answers.” You don’t need to have all the answers to be amazing at running a membership.
Shelli Varela: Well, sometimes the success is sitting in the discomfort of the unknowing, right, riding the wave of that.
Faye Cornhill: Yeah.
Shelli Varela: Would you be willing to speak to whether people who are listening are in the wedding industry or not? You brought up something really important, which is the pivot and the shift. Can you speak to people who are in a situation where they perhaps, like yourself, need to pivot or shift and are just in the sometimes fold on terror of what does this look like? Because it’s not always going exactly as you planned or foresaw it.
Faye Cornhill: Oh, yeah. It’s the word of the year, isn’t it, pivot, apart from COVID? So, here’s where I was at like I was running a very successful wedding photography business. I was traveling the world. I was going to glamorous events with super people. There was pretty stuff everywhere and I loved it. And 90% of me could have stayed in that place but there was this niggle, this 10% of me that kept saying, “There’s something else. There’s something different.” And I was so sure that my journey through running my wedding photography business was taking me to that place. So, as always, I kept thinking, I’m so grateful I’ve done this and I know I’m in the right place. But if I close my eyes to that 10%, I don’t know what would have happened because there would have always been this unfulfilled part of me. And I see so many people doing this where they just close their eyes to opportunity, close their eyes to the option to pivot, to change, to up level, to whatever we want to call it. There was always this niggle.
And I think it was my experience of running my business successfully, my experience of seeing the pitfalls of running that business, there was the longing of like five-year-old Faye who used to enjoy standing up in front of people, making people laugh. There was the media stuff like being in front of the camera, and it all sort of came together. And it would have been so easy to say, “I don’t want to do that next thing because it’s new. It’s challenging. It’s different. Who am I to say that I could go and teach other people how to do this?” But until you just bite the bullet, like you will never know.
Shelli Varela: It’s so funny of the power that lies in the statement, “What if?”
Faye Cornhill: Yeah. I don’t enjoy what-ifs. I used to have so many what-ifs and I think the older I get, I realized the less time I have available on planet Earth, I can’t be doing with what-ifs anymore.
Shelli Varela: It’s interesting though, like, it just depends on what sort of energy you put into the what-if. What if this goes wrong? What if this could be the best thing that ever happened? And what if I missed that opportunity? Like you were just saying like that 10%.
Faye Cornhill: Absolutely. I think I would rather regret taking the leap and doing something than not doing it at all. Like if you go to the theme park as a kid and you chickened out on the roller coaster, but everyone else goes on it. And it’s a bit like that, isn’t it? I don’t want to see everyone else on the roller coaster and me being like bummed out because I didn’t have the nerve to do it. Like I said earlier, even when I joined TRIBE, I was not 100% sure that a membership would be right for me. It didn’t take me long to get to the realization that I was so in the right place and it was so the right thing but I trusted my intuition and it turned out to be perfect.
Shelli Varela: I love that statement if nothing else for this interview. I want everybody to hear that, “I trusted my intuition.” What has a membership offered you that has been a pleasant surprise that you weren’t expecting?
Faye Cornhill: It’s brought so many more people into my life. Whichever niche people are in, you always feel, I mean, this is a generalization but if you have your scarcity mindset on, it’s so easy to say, “Oh, but my industry is too small. It’s too niche. There’s not enough people.” I said all the same things. I still have days where I’m like, “Oh, it’s kind of a small industry,” but it never is like there’s always endless people who aspirationally want to do what you are doing and be a part of your crowd. Even if they haven’t stuck their head above the parapet yet and gone, “Hey, I want to join in with the fun you’re having,” there are people everywhere, literally waiting for an opportunity. And before my membership, I was working with people one-to-one. I was running a group program. But those two things were not right for everybody. I didn’t have something that was lower ticket, affordable for all of the new people that were coming into our industry. The version of me, you know, all those years ago, there wasn’t that thing. So, I couldn’t help everybody that came into my world. And it just allowed me to do that. So, it was a bit like opening the floodgates, basically. All those people that have been hanging around and DMing me and like sending me questions like, “One day I’m going to work with you Faye,” suddenly I gave people the opportunity to do it, and the right people were in. So, that was the biggest thing for me.
Shelli Varela: That’s brilliant. And I really appreciate that you notice that there is a level for everybody and for people to get to the upper levels or the ability to work in a group program with you or one-on-one with you so that they can have their version of what you do. Everybody has to start somewhere and just the intelligence and the insight to say like, “Let me offer something for those people as well,” so that can be their first step on the climb up the mountain.
Faye Cornhill: Yeah. Talking about money and the financials of running your business, I realized that it was like a two-way thing. I was not providing everybody that needed a piece of the pie with the goods in exchange for the low ticket item, like I was leaving money on the table. But also, there were lots of frustrated people who wanted to be part of the action who couldn’t be for whatever reason, and this allowed me to change that model. And I have to say, I love it. It suits me down to the crowns because when I’ve got 300 faces looking back at me and I’m doing my thing and just really in my zone, it’s my happy place.
Shelli Varela: Well, I mean, for those people who will one day work with you in a more one-to-one capacity, you’re almost helping, empowering, and nurturing those people to be able to start on the journey to get to the point where perhaps they could work with you if they choose to or if you’re still even doing that.
Faye Cornhill: Yeah. And I do still work with people on a one-to-one basis and I love that. I absolutely do but I’m also aware that there are so many people that are like me when I was back at day one and it feels like you’re just scrambling to get on the ladder. And just like one idea or one concept or one thing that I teach the members of my club could be the one thing that just, boom, catapults them to the next stage and it’s that that I love. You know, when you get the message that says, “You know, I did that throwaway comment that you said last week in our live session,” or, “You know what, I did something with that. I took away, I actioned it, and it’s had this impact on my business,” and I’m like, “Oh, well, that’s quite cool.”
Shelli Varela: Well, it’s when you look at all of the experiences you’ve had in your life and even the ones that unknowingly many of us will throw away. That’s not a thing. So, a little girl who likes to be the center of attention and tell stories and to highlight where the attention goes and something and combines that with all of the experience that you’ve had in the meantime. If we were all to pay attention in the same manner that you did, imagine the success we could have. With that said, last question, what is your favorite piece of feedback that you’ve received from one of your members?
Faye Cornhill: I think it’s actually about being comfortable in your own skin. Even though it’s the wedding industry, we’re so heavily online. Same as many memberships and many industries, we’re online, we’re on Instagram, on Facebook, we go live. Our face is seen by our potential clients. I hid behind not wanting to do that for a long time. Even though I had this desire to be in the media, I was so scared of judgment from other people and I think one of the most powerful things I can teach people is that your clients book you for you, and that’s all of you. So, it’s the best thing you can do for your business is just really own your story, your experience, be true to yourself because when you do that, it opens up a whole different world because it just feels so much more authentic that way.
Shelli Varela: Doors were walls once existed. I love it.
Faye Cornhill: Amen.
Shelli Varela: You are incredible and we so appreciate you and your time. If people are looking for you online, where’s the best place they can find you?
Faye Cornhill: So, the best place they can find me is on Instagram and I’m just @FayeCornhill. Faye with an E. I always have to say that.
Shelli Varela: Awesome. Thank you so much, Faye. We appreciate you and thanks for sharing your stories. They’ve been incredible.
Faye Cornhill: Thank you.
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