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Michele Velazquez is the owner of The Heart Bandits, a Marriage Proposal Planning Company. She specializes in creating one-of-a-kind proposals for clients around the world. Named one of “America’s Most Romantic Companies” by Business News Weekly, her proposals have been featured in the New York Times, NBC, ABC, Brides Magazine, and more. For more information and samples of their work, please see www.theheartbandits.com
MO: How did you come up with the idea for The Heart Bandits? What marketing strategies did you use in the early days to promote such a unique concept?
Michele: I actually didn’t like the way my now husband proposed to me. When I talked to him about my feelings, he admitted that there weren’t any resources out there to help men who were proposing. That is when the light bulb went off. We used two main marketing strategies to get the word out there that our services existed. The first was Internet Marketing where we focused on creating blog posts with relevant content that would help with SEO. The second strategy was traditional marketing. I knocked on doors, emailed people like Oprah and the NY Times, and didn’t stop until I found my business on NBC News, NY Times, and Huffington Post.
MO: Why do you think that how a person proposes is so important and how do you help them create a story that will become part of their family history?
Michele: The way a person proposes is important for multiple reasons. A woman starts dreaming of her proposal from the time she is a little girl and she wants it to be special. For a man, the day he proposes is the day he decides to spend his life with someone so it is a very special day for him too. Now that doesn’t mean that the proposal has to be over the top, it just has to be special and that is where we come in. We interview the client and we listen to his love story. With our experience, we are able to pick out bits and pieces of his love story and create a special proposal concept with him. We have been doing this a while now and we know what details to listen for.
MO: Can you talk about why you’re so excited to officially launch your All Inclusive Proposal Packages?
Michele: The reason I am so excited to launch our All Inclusive Proposal Packages is because with the introduction of these packages, we can now help even more men propose marriage. When we create custom ideas for clients and we are involved in every aspect of the Proposal Planning, it takes a lot of time and the client has to pay for that time. With our All Inclusive Packages, we are able to offer more affordable options and therefore reach a broader audience. I have always wanted to be able to help all men propose marriage, no matter what their income, due to my humble background.
MO: Can you provide three tips to our readers who may be considering a proposal in the near future? What are some ways that they can take it to the next level?
Michele: Sure! If someone really wants to create a dream proposal, he should follow these 3 tips. #1) Do not use generic or cliché proposal ideas you find on the Internet. All of those proposal ideas were created for someone else’s girlfriend and your girlfriend is going to know that you didn’t create something just for her. #2) Have a budget for the proposal. For some reason, men always save all of their money for the ring but they don’t save any money for the proposal. I always tell my clients, you can upgrade a diamond, but you can never change a memory. #3) Have a plan. It isn’t good enough just to have a great proposal idea, you also need a plan. There are too many things that could go wrong and ruin your proposal so you need to think of all of those possibilities and prepare for them ahead of time.
MO: What exactly does a personal Romance Concierge do?
Michele: A Romance Concierge plans romantic dates, makes dinner and hotel reservations, stages romantic scenarios, buys romantic gifts, and more. These services are great for the busy executive who is always travelling on business but still wants to give his marriage the attention it deserves. We have a lot of CEO’s and Lawyers as clients who will call us from the airport saying they are coming home tonight and they want us to make dinner reservations at the most romantic restaurant in their city. We have an invitation and roses delivered to his wife, a limo sent to pick her up, and we have a fine bottle of champagne waiting for the couple. While he is gone, we go to their house and sprinkle rose petals everywhere and light candles or anything else the client wants.
MO: What’s the most unusual proposal that you’ve ever helped organize? Which one has been the most memorable or meaningful for you to be part of?
Michele: One of the most unique proposals that we have coordinated was for a guy who wanted to create a proposal inspired by “mini-dates” he saw on the TV show “How I Met Your Mother.” The setup was that the girl would have 2 minute dates at each station on a private rooftop we rented. They sat at a café table and were served sushi for 2 minutes. They were taken to the next station where they watched the movie “Taken” for 2 minutes. They went back to the café that had turned into a dessert bar and they ate cheesecake for 2 minutes. Suddenly, music started and the guy and some professional dancers did a dance routine and he proposed.
The most memorable was for a girl who had always dreamed of being a professional ballerina but she had an injury that forced her to give up that dream. She thought she was going to dinner but instead she was dropped off near a beautiful gazebo. As she got close to the gazebo she saw a ballerina dancing by herself which looked like a music box. There was a string duo playing her favorite Josh Groban song. She sat down and just then, little child ballerinas danced their way over and handed her pink ribbons with love notes from the guy. He proposed and it was so romantic.
I also love anytime we help a soldier propose as I am a Veteran.
MO: What inspired you to re-launch your logo and website? How do you hope that the changes that you have made will improve the user experience?
Michele: The reason we re-designed our website was because we are selling love and romance, yet with a white background and no color, it just seemed a little cold. We want our webpage to feel warm and really help show the user what we are all about. Our logo was just font based before and we figured if we are selling marriage proposals, our logo should really reflect that. Now our logo is an engagement ring and our site is filled with color. On our new homepage the user gets an explanation of our services, access to our recent blog post, and our latest videos and photos for proposal inspiration.
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