This post was written by Brian Lawrence, one of the industry’s foremost authorities on marketing in the wedding industry. Brian has consulted with many wedding professionals and wholesale suppliers at www.brianlawrence.com. Brian also owns Local Traffic Builder, a nationally-known web design, marketing and social media firm serving the wedding and event industry. He is the author of “The Wedding Expert’s Guide to Sales and Marketing” and “The Invitation Business Report” and has helped thousands of industry professionals with his marketing insights through personal consultation, books, seminars, blogs and articles, and speaking engagements at leading industry conferences.
For most businesses, networking stops at the exchange of business cards – but not in the wedding industry. Building relationships is imperative for most wedding and events professionals to thrive in their market. The mutual intention for both parties is to refer customers on a regular basis. Sometimes wedding professionals even offer a financial reward or incentive each time a referral is made to increase the exchange of recommendations.
The next generation of commitment and collaboration is when Pros share access to a client. Shared access through a preferred vendor list is most common for venues and caterers. As an early rung on the planning ladder, venues and caterers are in the best position to recommend couples to other Pros. They have a strong sphere of influence in the process because they often represent the biggest financial commitment. Sometimes venues will also share the names of prospects who did not book; naturally those referrals are not as strong for the receiving vendor.
If referrals alone aren’t enough to support your wedding business, a best practice to try is cross-marketing with other vendors. Cross-marketing means that one Pro ties in an offer from another Pro for the purpose of using it as an incentive to sell their own service. Cross-marketing is mutually beneficial, since both professionals are rewarded if the couple ends up booking.
The Pro originally contacted by the couple presents something of value to make their offering seem stronger, when it’s at no cost to them. The recommended Pro has a chance to gain the business of the original Pro’s client while the actual couple receives the additional value.
When determining if this strategy will work for you, you’ll need to decide what to give away. The ideal cross-marketing plan would be to offer something that has a small impact on the profit you make on the booking but substantial enough for it to be a meaningful incentive to purchase. Such offers include discount certificates, gift certificates or a free product or service. Examples below:
- Stationery/Invitations – Discount or 25 free invitations
- Florists – Free throwaway bouquet
- Limousines – Free transportation at the end of the reception to their wedding night destination
- DJs – Free handouts
- Photographers – Free engagement photo
- Videographers – Free extra edited copies for parents
Successful cross-marketing strategies fortify the relationships you have with the Pros you recommend, while also generating additional sales for both parties. Let me know how it works out for you in the comments!