» Why Do Couples Ask About Price First?

 

This article was written by Alan Berg, a WeddingWire Education Guru. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is a member of the National Speakers Association, an author, and founder of The Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to the educating and consulting of highly motivated individuals and businesses. Learn more at http://alanberg.com/.

As I travel around the country, and the world, this is one of the questions I get asked most often: Why do couples almost always ask about price first?” There are so many important things that our prospects need to know, yet so many seem to ask about price before getting to the other details. Why is that? We all know that price is not the most important factor, but couples will still ask about price first.

I contend that they ask “how much” because they don’t know what else to ask. If they did, then they would ask the more important questions first. So often they don’t even tell you the date of the wedding, or the location, yet they ask you how much it costs. It’s not that they’re price shoppers, or that they can’t afford your services (everyone needs to know how much it costs at some point and no one wants to overpay)—they simply don’t know where else to start the conversation!

We All Ask “How Much…?”

We’re all guilty of it at times when we’re the customer. When I needed window tinting on some windows in my house to protect my piano from sun-UV ray damage, I emailed 3 companies and asked them “how much?” and it wasn’t that I couldn’t afford it, or that I was price shopping (at least not at that point). It was simply that I didn’t know what else to ask. Once I met with an expert, and therefore got my education on the process, I could then ask better questions.

Many, if not most, inquiries come in through email these days and “how much does it cost?” is often the first, if not the only question. So, how do you handle that? What are some ways to deflect the question?

Say: Thanks!

The first thing you should always do is thank them for their inquiry. They’ve just put you on the menu. I like to point out to my audiences and clients that in this economy, it is very common to be think “price first” when selecting their top Pros. Think about how many other companies there are that probably didn’t even get on their top list for your area of expertise. Be sure to acknowledge that it is a privilege to get a chance to communicate with them, and that your business is being considered.

Next, it is important to start a conversation with the engaged couple. Whether it’s in email, on the phone, a live chat, at a bridal show, or in your office— you’re having a conversation, so keep it conversational. Don’t write an email like a formal business letter, or as if your high school English teacher is looking over your shoulder. Write it as if you were speaking it to them. Use your “voice” because that’s the voice she’s going to hear when she actually speaks to you. It makes your business come to life, and gives a sense of who you are. Be professional, but friendly!

Get More Information

Next, acknowledge that you’re going to tell them how much it costs… as soon as you get some more information about their big day. Then, continue the conversation by asking a couple of questions at a time. Don’t bombard her with everything, all at once. You wouldn’t do that on the phone or in person, so don’t do that in email.

Should you try to get her on the phone? Yes, a phone conversation is great, but she’s probably at work and can’t call you now. Should you try to get the appointment? Of course, in person meetings are ideal at establishing a connection. But if she wants to continue the conversation via email, be prepared to do it, and be better prepared than your competitors!

Email Tips

Top email tips I recommend when communicating with engaged couples:

  • Mirror their tone – casual or formal
  • Mirror their energy – upbeat or reserved
  • Mirror how much they writes – if they send you 3 sentences, don’t send her 5 paragraphs
  • Don’t send attachments she didn’t ask for – do you open unsolicited attachments?
  • Don’t answer questions she hasn’t asked – it’s a basic rule of selling
  • Be careful with what you write, nothing in email is private – enough said!

Remember that it’s a conversation, so keep it conversational and let your personality come through. Keep in mind that they put you on the menu, so be genuinely thankful that they’ve given you a chance. Lastly, put yourself in their shoes. What would you want if you were the customer? If you do that, it’s hard to go wrong.

39 thoughts on “Why Do Couples Ask About Price First?

  1. Alan, what a great topic! As a recent bride and wedding planner myself, I understand why couples focus on “how much” and don’t judge them for it. I engage them in conversation and I like your tip about mirroring the tone and not sending attachments in email inquiry responses. I’ll implement your advice and will see what happens! Thanks for writing such a helpful post.

  2. Excellant tips, I just finished a bridal show today and your tips are invaluable and on point.

  3. Alan – As a wedding officiant, I am certainly a fan of yours. Working with you has made a profound difference in my newly-launched website. The counsel and recommendations you provide have added immediate and measurable value to my wedding ministry.

    In this post, you make great points that initial questions about cost often are not only a question about cost but represent much more. I had chosen to address the cost question directly on my website based on a repeated question that couples have asked: “What are the costs and next steps?” So, I developed a page titled: “Cost and Next Steps.”

    I find this pre-qualifies couples who come to me. And I discuss through my website the value that I provide (and as you wisely suggested) directly through the testimonials of those I’ve been honored to marry. As you told me, “your brand is what your customers are saying about you.”

    As always, thanks for your sage advice.

    Rev. Bill Freeman
    Progressive Catholic & Interfaith Weddings
    Arlington, VA
    Winner: WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards 2013

  4. Great topic from an admirable expert in the industry, but I’m afraid I have to disagree. With the Internet at our fingertips, consumers are already well aware of what types of services they are looking for. I believe that the reason they ask about a price first, is to see if they are truly going to be getting the bang for their buck, or if they’re paying for someone’s reputation. If someone has already decided to hire a planner versus a DIY wedding, then they already know what they are getting into. It doesn’t help that there are many reality shows showcasing planners creating weddings from what seems like nothing and setting ridiculous expectations for real life Coordinator’s.

    I personally always get that infamous first question regarding price. However, I address this topic in my blog “The Rendez-vow”, which you can find on my website at http://www.cherishevents.co ^(http://problog.weddingwire.com/goto/http://www.cherishevents.co) sothat my prospective clients know exactly how to address this topic and what information will be needed for the first inquiry. Hope it helps!!!

  5. How much is always a tricky question. We handle this with our starting prices mentioned on our website http://www.povazanphotography.com ^(http://problog.weddingwire.com/goto/http://www.povazanphotography.com). If the client is interested to know what is included then we recommend him to check our blog – http://www.vancouver-wedding-photographer.ca ^(http://problog.weddingwire.com/goto/http://www.vancouver-wedding-photographer.ca) and there he can see the description what our packages offer. We do not usually send out bulleted price lists and rather invite our clients to discuss their wedding plans in person during our free wedding consultation. ONce they meet us and they feel we are a good match for them we can easy discuss our top wedding collections with luxury albums and other extras with them without loosing them. Every clients is different but HOW MUCH topic is always hot!

  6. They ask about the price right off the bat, because 99% of wedding planning services don’t list their prices on their websites LOL

  7. Terrific advice, especially about mirroring the number of paragraphs they send.

  8. That is the most common question we get asked at our venue. We answer it by saying that there are simply too many variables to give a solid price and that each wedding is unique. We then attempt to schedule a visit to go over all the variables and issue a no cost estimate.

    Great blog topic!

  9. Great advice! I just received an email yesterday from a mom asking about my “wedding day coordination”. (I don’t call it “day of” because of the stigma that we don’t do anything until the actual day).

    My approach is to, as the writer said, mirror the conversation. I do, however, list several items that are included in my services in order to help justify the cost I am quoting so I don’t scare them off entirely. It is my experience that people simply do not know what things cost when planning an event and therefore, think the cost should be minimal. Or, they have a very unreasonable expectation of cost.

    Once they have a better understanding of what I offer, I can justify price. Not everyone will schedule an appointment, but by offering a free, no obligation consultation, they are more inclined to listen to my ideas and thoughts and hire my firm. Hope this helps.

  10. Great article Alan! I completely agree with everything you said. Most of it I have fortunately already implemented. For example, I always start my reply to every single inquiry with, “Thank you for contacting me and considering Poetic Cinema.” If they used a ton of exclamation points in their inquiry, I use a few more of them myself. If they use smilies, I use some too. I love it!

    I do need to make more phone calls. When I call them, I can get a better feel for their personality, and vise-versa. I definitely need to work on that.

    I would love to add a couple of things… 1) Respond quickly, and 2) Use proper grammar.

    I am amazed at how many of their replies to my reply are started with, “Thanks for the quick reply!” I cannot imagine how many vendors out there take too long to reply, and I’m even more flabbergasted that bride’s have come to accept slow replies as being acceptable. Always reply within 24 hours, and preferably within just a couple of hours.

    I’m also amazed at the amount of improper grammar used by professionals. Its really knot that hard too use proper grammer :)

    Anyhow, great article. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Very well said, thanks for the info.

  12. How do you follow up with, “Do you go less, because we’re on a budget?” This is in the first conversation before even meeting with me. It’s so insulting. It’s happening a lot lately.

  13. Very well written and clear.
    A great help. Something I knew already but I frequently tend to forget.. simply because i try to handle to answer quickly… I will print this post and read it as a mantra every morning.
    My site has improved a lot since I am reading and attanding weddingwireedu sessions. Thanks
    Francesca

  14. Your advice was right on point! I specifically like the comment about responding with to emails. In speaking at trade association meetings and conferences for our industry many vendors take the initial two sentence inquire as an opportunity to engage in a full blown sales presentation. You simple want to start the conversation. My response is always to ask if we can have a 5 to 10 minute conversation about your wedding. This takes away the pressure of it being a sales pitch and the commitment of time is non-threatening. Another good tactic is reverse the question when it is simple about price “What is your budget?” 99% of the time they will respond back which then allow me to start an education dialog. What I have found is that they have no idea of pricing and they are simple throwing numbers out to get someone to talk with them.

    I just completed a bridal show this weekend in Boston (one of my most successful ones each year) and of the inquires I received (75+) in which we had an active dialog only one person walked up and the first question was “What is your price?” I have faith that brides are beginning to read and understand that price is not the driving factor rather service-quality and professionalism. In talking with other vendors we all agreed that are preception is the bride is pricing shopping and we build up that defense mentality too quickly,

    We as vendors need to drive the conversation and this is one of the best articles I have read in a while that provides concrete ideas in achieving sales success.

  15. Rev.Sydney , Eternity Wedding Ceremonies ^(http://problog.weddingwire.com/goto/http://EternityWeddingCeremonies.vpweb.com) on

    Alan, great blog: thank you for sharing your ideas! I’m already implementing many of your suggestions, but the leading one, that they ask “How much?” right out the starting gate because they don’t know what else to say/ask, never occurred to me, LOL! But in retrospect, it makes perfect sense, and certainly resonates with my experience. Your idea(s) will make a difference in my understanding and response to these queries from bridal couples ~ thanks again!

    I’d like to add one more tip to the bucket, which I think is important: FOLLOW UP FOLLOW UP FOLLOW UP!!! I can’t tell you how many ceremonies I’ve secured simply because I paid repeated attention to couples seeking services, who for a number of different reasons, weeks after their initial inquiry and my response, had not yet selected their Minister/Officiant to “get ‘er done” . Some have expressed appreciation of my follow-up, saying that I was the only one who took the time to do that…. and it influenced their decision to go with my services.

    With Gratitude,
    Rev.Sydney Charnley
    Eternity Wedding Ceremonies
    (Based in Charlotte, NC)

  16. Rev. Benjy Simmons, Simple Wedding Day, LLC ^(http://problog.weddingwire.com/goto/http://www.myrtlebeachsimpleweddingday.com) on

    I appreciate the very helpful and informative article. I usually go on instinct and try my best to engage the couple expressing excitement about their special day. If a bride and groom take the time to inquire about my services, I count it a privilege to have the opportunity to offer help and assistance with whatever questions they have even if it involves ‘How everything will cost’.

    Sincerely, Rev. Benjy Simmons

    Simple Wedding Day, LLC
    Myrtle Beach, SC

  17. Great suggestions-
    A- respond within 24 hours.
    B- use your voice
    C- keep it short and sweet
    D- follow up
    E- I include attachments of a few great images that are not my site.
    F- even if the date is booked, still reply with energy and a hint of sadness that you are not available. Every moment is a marketing moment

  18. This was a very helpful blog! I certainly will be reblogging this on my website for the photographers that benefit from reading my informational posts. Though I am implementing some of your tips already I am excited to jump on the other ideas and see where they lead me!

    Rev. Sydney, I like your tip about following up too. I always follow up with clients. As a self-employed wedding photographer I have made it my job to create a bond with my clients and a long-lasting relationship even past their wedding date. There are plenty of wedding “companies” out there that can’t and won’t give the personal relationship I will so I find, for my business model, that easily secures the clients that are looking for just that.

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  20. Very true and valuable tips! Thanks!

  21. When asked what the price is I tell my brides that every wedding and bride is unique and offer them a free phone consultation to give them a custom quote. This allows me to get them on the phone and try to schedule a trial If I do get them on the phone I follow up with a thankful email that list the quote I gave them on the phone.

    Thanks for the article Alan your the reason why my website looks so good!

    Shay Richardson
    Shades of Beauty Artistry

  22. Whenever a couple contacts me about their
    wedding or event, I always ask first ‘What is the
    date & location of your wedding?’
    The Location gives me an idea of how to price it,
    if it’s at one of the prestigious wineries here,
    I will start a bit higher…if it’s at the local
    little Church down the street, I automatically know
    they’re not going to pay $500 for my services,
    so I’ll quote a price much lower,
    also asking for the date & location tells me right
    away if I’m going to have to add travel fees or
    extra fees for gas to get there etc…
    So before I answer their price question I always
    ask these questions first & they never seem to mind
    answering those first…& if they do I can always say
    “I need to know the date first to see if I am available
    then’…no one can argue with that logic!!

  23. Hi Alan:
    Thank you for posting this important information. It was so helpful to now know that replying to e-mails are best handled in the tone received. I guess I have always chosen to be more formal because of the nature of my services. I will be much more conscious of that as I move forward into this already amazing 2013 & I wish You & everyone in this industry Abundant Blessings!! In great gratitude… ~Rev Jacqueline Weiks http://www.ncminister.com ^(http://problog.weddingwire.com/goto/http://www.ncminister.com) Serving western NC & upstate SC since 1994.

  24. Thanks for this information. It was so timely

  25. Thank you for your very valuable sales & marketing advice to brides. I especially like the email tips since I tend to give out way too much information in my emails!

  26. The opportunity for the couple to ask first “how much?” shouldn’t occur. Congratulations!! and Thank you for considering our facility LEADS the conversation. Continuing to LEAD the conversation with relevant information, asking the couples questions, expressing an interest in their “story” all assist in the presentation of your product giving you the opportunity at the right time to address cost.

  27. Always helpful reminders!

  28. Thanks, everyone.

    Misha, if they ask you to lower your price because they’re on a budget the answer should be, No. Their budget is not a reason to devalue your services. I’d love to offer Mercedes $25K for an S-Class, but they’re not going to take it, nor should they. You can offer them a lower-priced alternative, but don’t lower the value of your services by discounting. It’s a no-win situation for you.

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  31. Such a great post Alan, I linked to this post from my blog.

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