» Need to Know: The Do’s and Don’ts of Pricing

pricing team

Receiving a question about pricing can be daunting and tricky to navigate. On the bright side, receiving a price inquiry is a definite sign of interest and should be exciting! When a couple makes an inquiry regarding price, you should see it as a buying signal rather than a red flag. If they are reaching out, it means that they’ve vetted you and you’ve made it to the final round, so making an inquiry is simply the next step for them.

Education Expert Alan Berg shared some of his do’s and don’ts of pricing in our July Premium Webinar last week (Premium Members can watch the full recording in their account Education Center). We’ve pulled together a list of his best tips to help equip you for those often-dreaded pricing questions when they hit your inbox.

DO’S

  • Do reply as quickly as possible to an inquiry. If you respond to a potential client within 5 minutes, rather than 30, you are 100x more likely to connect with that lead. Why 5 minutes? That’s fast! By responding in 5 minutes, you can almost ensure that the person is still mentally and physically in the same place rather than having moved on to other things.
  • Do reply on the same platform that they used for their inquiry. The best practice here is to give couples all the possible ways to contact you, let them choose what works best for them, and then promptly reply on that channel.
  • Do acknowledge a question about price, don’t dodge it. If you need more information to give an accurate price, that’s completely fine! Just be upfront and transparent about it. Let them know that you are going to get them an answer, you just need to gather a bit more information about their big day first! Then, make sure to ask questions to start gathering that information to show that you are taking the necessary steps towards getting them that answer.
  • Do provide some pricing information on your website or WeddingWire Storefront. Couples are likely to distort their budget or may have a skewed sense of it (couples tend to underestimate their wedding costs by 40%!). Ideally, your pricing information would be available to them on your website or WeddingWire Storefront before they even reach out. 88% of couples want to see pricing of some sort before getting in contact with a vendor. That means you could be cut from the short list before you even have the chance to talk to them, so don’t hold out.

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» To Discount or Not to Discount? That is the Question

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

A very contentious topic among wedding pros is discounting. Both sides of the debate dig in, deeply, when this question is posed on social media or in forums. To completely understand this subject, the discussion needs to first start with defining discounting versus negotiating. I’ve discussed this at-length in my webinar on pricing so if you haven’t seen that one, you may want to watch that as well.

	To Discount or Not to Discount? That is the QuestionDiscounting versus negotiating

For me, discounting is fine when it has a structure and rules. Everyone who buys the same products or services for equivalent dates will pay the same price; the rules are applied equally to everyone. For instance, if you have three packages and your higher packages, which contain more services, also have the highest discounts, that’s great. If everyone who buys that packages pays the same price, then the rules are being applied equally.

On the other hand, negotiating means that two couples who buy the same products or services may pay different prices. Each customer’s ability to negotiate or not will determine their final price. The challenge with negotiating in today’s digitally connected world is that people can, and will, talk about their discount. If you can’t easily explain to one customer why they paid more than another customer for the same products and services – for instance, an in-season date versus an off-season date – then you’re negotiating, not discounting.

Discounting can be part of a pricing strategy. Negotiating can also be part of a pricing strategy, it’s just less structured. There are times when I’ll negotiate to get the sale, but it’s the exception, not the rule. I recommend to my consulting clients to offer added value over a discount in price, as it helps to keep integrity in their basic pricing structure. If you’re ever thrown in an extra product or service to get the sale, you’ve negotiated. Some companies do it on every sale. If you give the same or similar added value services every time, you’re really discounting, not negotiating. If the proportionate value of the added products or services changes with every customer, you’re negotiating.

Which is right for you?

There’s no one answer that’s right for every business. Personally, I prefer discounting over negotiating, as it’s easier to explain to your employees and your customers. I understand that it may not work for all businesses. In my business, as a speaker, sales trainer and consultant, there is no standard price list. Each event and client involves a different set of circumstances (travel, preparation, residual business, etc.). However, when it comes to my physical products (books, CDs, etc.), discounts make sense. For example, when I have a booth at a trade show or event, I’ll have my books and CDs, and usually offer an event discount. Many times I’ll be asked for an even lower price, and I’ll thank them and say that the listed prices are already discounted. Then I’ll ask if they want to pay with cash or credit. Asking for a discount is a buying signal, so always ask them for the sale when they you ask for a discount.

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» Latest Updates to Make Connecting with Clients Easier

We’ve made some exciting updates to your WeddingWire account! To make it easier than ever to share your favorite documents, stay organized, and communicate more quickly, we’ve added a number of WeddingWire Messages enhancements. Plus, Florists and Wedding Planners will notice updated new vendor directory search filters based on pricing information. Learn more about each update below!

Frequently Attached Documents in WeddingWire Messages

Frequently Attached Documents

Do you have a few key documents you typically share with couples who are interested in learning more about your business, such as pricing packages, service details, or a marketing brochure? Now, it’s easier than ever to share these attachments from within your Messages inbox.

How does it work?

The attachments you’ve shared most will be listed as ‘Frequent Attachments’ when you click ‘Attach File’ while you’re composing a message reply.  Simply select one and send it with your message. If you prefer, you can still choose to upload custom attachments from your computer each time, but it’s faster to choose a commonly shared document from this list.

Inbox Search

Inbox Search in WeddingWire Messages

Staying on top of your Messages or finding a specific client’s history can be challenging for busy wedding pros. To help, we’ve added a new search feature to your Messages inbox.

How does it work?

Use the new search box at the top of your Messages inbox within your account to search by key information and instantly find the client details you need. You can search by first name, last name, email address, or even past message content to find what you’re looking for and catch up on your conversation.

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» Why Craigslist is Not Your Competitor

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

Just the other day, I heard yet another wedding pro bring up Craigslist, lamenting how easy it is to get into his industry (in this case, be a DJ). The thing is, he’s at the top end of the price spectrum in his market. Why would he think that people charging a fraction of what he’s charging are his competition? It’s an easy trap to fall into. Theoretically, anyone who does what you do is a competitor. In the real world, though, that simply isn’t true.

Why Craigslist is Not Your CompetitorIs there really a difference?
Technically, Rolls Royce competes with Kia, because their products are both capable of transporting people from point A to point B. Of course, we know that isn’t true. While a Kia buyer might dream about one day owning a Rolls Royce, the opposite isn’t so. People buy Rolls Royce cars for reasons beyond basic transportation needs. The same is true when couples are shopping for their DJ, or photographer, or caterer, or dress, or wedding planner; they need what you do. But do they need and want you to do it?

Marketing thought leader Seth Godin suggests that you don’t need everyone to get what you do. You only need a small portion of the total market to really understand the specific value you bring. You can’t get them all, and you probably don’t want them all. That DJ doesn’t want the couple that only has $500 to spend on their wedding entertainment. Sure, they’re entitled to have a fun wedding, with great music – he’s just not their guy. Maybe someone else is; maybe they’ll use an iPhone. Either way, he didn’t lose that gig. It was never his to get.

What about you?
Are you wasting time, energy, and resources worrying about every other company in your market, professional or not? You simply can’t control those variables. The barrier to entry, for most wedding and event businesses, is very low. Many, if not most, don’t require a license or certification. Other than those that require a substantial physical presence (caterer, venue, dress shop, etc.), the monetary investment is very low as well. You don’t need the most expensive camera to take great photos; you need a great wedding photographer behind that camera.

Experience can’t be bought – it has to be earned. That said, experience is not a guarantee of success. Being in business for 10 years doesn’t guarantee that couple a great outcome from you. Have you done 5 weddings each year of those 10 years? Or, have you done 50 weddings each year? Have you updated your technical skills, as well as your business and customer service skills? There are many moving parts when it comes to providing a successful wedding outcome.

Who is your real competition?
If it’s not everyone who does what you do, then who are your real competitors? To figure this out, you have to understand how your target market shops for your product/service. What are the things that they value the most? Their priorities drive their budget, and fear is a major factor when making a big decision. What are they afraid might happen if they make the wrong decision? If they’re afraid that you can’t or won’t deliver the outcome they want, they’ll pay more to someone else for the peace of mind. Those are the times you scratch your head, wondering why they chose a higher-priced supplier, when you felt you could do everything they wanted.

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» Pricing Strategy: Is It Time to Consider a Change?

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

Frequently, the first question an engaged couple asks a wedding vendor is: “How much does (your service) cost?”

Pricing Strategy: Is It Time to Consider a Change?The question, followed by a brief discussion or debate about what the ‘business down the street’ charges can leave a wedding professional flummoxed. This post will suggest different strategies for explaining value and price, making every effort to stave off a snarky exchange.

Wedding professionals’ frustrations about pricing chatter are rooted in brides and grooms who do not have a thorough understanding or appreciation for the value of your services. This should not be shocking; this condition has become the norm. With the wide range of professionalism, design, style, talent, and experience, it’s no wonder many couples need more guidance.

Setting your pricing structure

The biggest problem I see with most pricing structures is when a business provides a price per hours of service. A wide variety of wedding businesses present pricing within the framework of time in direct service with the client, which can be really detrimental. Time alone does not constitute quality or a good result; as such, linking pricing only to face-to-face service at a wedding and/or reception drastically understates your total service time!

It’s a rare client that actually knows how many hours it takes to prepare custom introductions, track down obscure music, travel to the event, or a host of other event-specific tasks.  Hours of work at a wedding and reception are a specific measure of your effort; however, grossly incomplete. The result is more subjective. Hours of performance do not equal the value of your efforts.

To convey this point, it’s not enough to show video clips of successful events or an entire wedding video to a wedding couple and expect an instant understanding. The degree of difficulty and necessity of special talents, developed over time, are hard to factor into price for the inexperienced. Ask yourself: What is the most misunderstood element of your category of business, or your company, specifically? Do you duck the topic or have you developed away to communicate key sales points?

Explaining the scope of your service

Another key factor in price discussions with your clients is scope. Similar to the issue with setting your price by hours of service, couples don’t understand the differences in the level of service you provide in comparison to your competitors. If you don’t explain situational differences in equipment, lighting, skill level, buttercream icing, menu options for special dietary needs, etc., you are just hoping the prospect figures it out.

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» 3 Ways Displaying Pricing Information Generates More Leads

WedInsights

Statistics from WedInsights Volume 6Couples spend a lot of time researching the perfect wedding vendors and one of the main things they look for before reaching out is the potential price tag – and no, it’s not because they’re price shopping.

44% of wedding professionals say their prices vary per customer, which is why they prefer to have a dialogue or meeting to collect more details before providing a price point. Although couples understand there may be a variance in price, they express frustration when they cannot get a general baseline and are more likely to continue a conversation with a vendor who willingly provides this information as a starting point.

Below we share some of the insights from Volume 6 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series to find out how displaying pricing information can help your wedding business connect with more qualified couples online.

Stand out as a possible choice

Due to the importance of pricing information, many couples bypass vendors who don’t display pricing information and focus on those that give a price indication up front. In fact, 88% of couples want to see pricing before reaching out to contact a vendor. Couples simply don’t want to waste their time or get excited about a product or service only to discover it’s outside of their budget. Give prospective clients the information they need to send a lead by adding initial pricing information to your website and additional online listings.

Establish trust at the point of inquiry

Couples hate nothing more than to ask “how much” and in return get forced into having a conversation or sales pitch in order to get an answer. As much as we know that wedding professionals prefer to have a conversation to get all the details and provide an accurate price, couples just want to get a baseline. Don’t be afraid to answer the question and then ask to set up time to chat. And remember – despite budgeting and planning, 74% of couples come in over budget. Only 10% of couples report coming in right on budget and 16% under budget, indicating that couples are willing to be flexible, but they need to feel comfortable with your business before they can make adjustments.

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» Does Your Wedding Business Take Credit Cards?

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

“Do you take credit cards?” seems to be an unnecessary question, but it’s still a common one on forums and social groups. With the cost of transactions ranging from just over 1% to as high as 4% (or more with additional fees) it’s certainly a subject worth talking about. It’s a cost of doing business, but can you (or should you) try to mitigate that cost?

Common types of credit cardsI think it’s as much a mindset as a real cost. In my article, You can’t save your way to prosperity, I talked about cost-saving strategies and how most are misguided. There’s a limit to how much you can save. You have to have electricity, gas for your truck, supplies, payroll and taxes. No matter how hard you try, you can’t reduce your costs to zero. Are the efforts worth the savings?

Let’s do the math

Recently I was consulting with a wedding professional and he was lamenting how it costs him 4% when he receives funds through his website. If he does $100,000 in collections, that’s costing him $4,000 per year in credit card fees. If he does $200,000 in collections through credit/debit cards, it costs him $8,000 per year. The only way to reduce that to zero is to stop accepting credit cards. These days that’s also likely to limit your sales as some people only want to pay with their credit or debit card. You also get the funds now, as opposed to waiting for a check or cash, as you can accept the cards remotely, but cash would be in person and checks are becoming a much rarer form of commerce for today’s generation of wedding couples.

I asked my client how many of his customers he might have lost if he didn’t take credit cards, and while it’s hard to say, it’s likely he would have lost a few. The most he can save is $4,000 or $8,000, depending upon his collections. It’s very likely that the lost sales would have cost him more than the credit card fees are costing.

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» 4 Ways to Approach Your Pricing Strategy

Pro to Pro Insights

Brian Lawrence, Sell the BrideThis 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.

Deciding how to price your servicesPricing strategy: A source of frustration for many wedding professionals. Some see it as an art, others see it as a science; but it’s a vital part of the wedding industry for all of us.

Deciding how much to charge for your products or services is no easy feat, and there are a lot of factors involved: your offerings, local competition, regional wedding costs, and more. It’s a lot to worry about, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Below are four approaches that will help your wedding business hone your pricing strategy!

1.  Check out the competition

Identify your local competitors and see what’s working well for them. What packages do they offer? What range of prices are they working with? Do they list their pricing on their website or online listings? While you shouldn’t copy your competitors, find out what makes your business stand apart from theirs and capitalize on that differentiation. If your competitor only offers two pricing packages, trying offering a third tier. If they don’t list their pricing on their website, try listing yours to give potential clients a better idea of what to expect.

2.  Consider your business goals

When evaluating what makes your wedding business stand out from the competition, think about where you can strengthen your source of revenue. The best pricing strategy makes the most of your innate business strengths.  What makes your business special and drives customers to you? Are you following the pricing strategy that emphasizes your business as the better or more high-quality choice, or are you merely attempting to undercut your competitors? Many wedding professionals only consider externally-influenced pricing strategies that do not actually reflect the quality of their business, which is not as successful in the long term.

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» The Paradox of Choice: When More Isn’t Better

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

In my 2014 webinar on pricing, I talk about having better packages and pricing information. I suggest having three packages, where the middle package is the one that you want/expect most customers to buy. I want to delve a little deeper into why this may work for you.

Decision makingIn his book The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less, psychologist Barry Schwartz suggests that “eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers.” Today’s couples have grown up in a world of seemingly limitless choices. But more choices aren’t always better. More choices don’t make choosing easier; in fact, too many choices makes choosing harder. When presented with so many choices, how do you choose?

Give them better choices
It’s your job as the expert in your field to help guide your customers to the right choice. Giving them a very long list of options is only going to delay them from making a choice. It’s also making selling harder for you. It’s simply harder to sell and harder to buy when there are more choices. If you often have customers say “You’ve given us so much to think about we need to go home and process it,” you may be overwhelming them with choices. In addition to presenting them with choices, it’s also your job to eliminate the options that won’t work for the customer and remove them from their view, literally and figuratively.

Imagine you only have one thing to sell – then it’s simply a yes or no decision. Add another choice and it’s either Option A or Option B. But when you add a third choice something magical happens: Option B becomes the easier choice. Adding more choices muddies the middle, and the clear/easy choice isn’t as apparent.

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» Make Pricing Information Available on Your WeddingWire Storefront

Florists, Videographers, Bands, DJs, Wedding Planners, Ceremony Musicians/Bands, Officiants, Beauty & Health professionals or Lighting & Decor businesses may notice new pricing-related questions within the FAQ section of your WeddingWire account.

Make Pricing Information Available on Your WeddingWire StorefrontThe answers to these basic pricing questions will display on your Storefront and provide important information to engaged couples evaluating your business. Many wedding professionals already provide general pricing information on their business website to set better expectations with consumers, ultimately allowing them to pre-qualify their inquiries and focus on prospective clients who are serious about booking their business.

As you add your pricing information, be sure to check out Alan Berg’s tips for handling pricing questions with potential clients, including:

  • Shift the conversation to focus on your service quality. Couples who ask about price don’t necessarily think price is more important than quality. They’re buying something they’ve never bought before, so use pricing questions as a starting point for a deeper conversation.
  • Make it clear that you’re on their side. Explain that you don’t want them to pay any more than they have to in order to get everything they want. Sharing general pricing information ahead of time means that couples will have a better expectation of your cost and will be more ready to start discussing how they can customize their plan.

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» Add Pricing Information to Your WeddingWire Storefront

If you’re a Ceremony and Reception Venue, Rehearsal Dinner Venue, Caterer or Photographer you may have noticed new pricing-related questions within the FAQ section of your WeddingWire account.

Add Pricing Information to Your WeddingWire StorefrontThe answers to these basic pricing questions will display on your Storefront and provide important information to engaged couples evaluating your business. We’ve implemented this addition after our researched showed that 88% of WeddingWire couples want to see pricing information before they reach out to a vendor. After months of collecting feedback from industry professionals and vendors across all service categories, we are excited to start sharing this important information on WeddingWire.

Many wedding professionals already provide general pricing information on their business website to set better expectations with consumers, ultimately allowing them pre-qualify their inquiries and focus on prospective clients who are serious about booking their vendors.

Pricing questions are customized for each service category and currently apply only to venues, rehearsal dinner venues, caterers and photographers; however, we will gradually introduce custom FAQ and pricing updates for all categories over the coming months.

Be sure to check out Alan Berg’s tips for handling pricing questions with potential clients, including:

  • Tell the client why you charge what you charge, not just what you charge. We offer you the ability to upload a PDF in addition to answering generally pricing questions. This will help your business better qualify what you offer and share different packages available.
  • Leverage online reviews to let past clients do the selling for you. We already took care of this one for you! Since the information will show on your Storefront where couples are also able to easily view your past client reviews.

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» The Opportunity Cost of Not Asking for the Upsell

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

Are you getting the most profit from each wedding or event? I gave a presentation recently on closing sales and how none of us should sell a client something they neither want nor need. That doesn’t mean we don’t sell them things they didn’t come in for. Most couples don’t know how to shop for what you do, so they don’t always know what’s available.

The Opportunity Cost of Not Asking for the UpsellDiscover the interest

Part of your job in the sales process is to ask good questions to find out if your client is interested in hearing more about some of the things you do, but they haven’t asked you about. That’s called the discovery phase. If they’re not interested, move on. If they are then show them how those things can enhance their event, and then see if they’re interested in adding them. In other words, go for the close.

What if they don’t buy them today?

For most wedding and event professionals there is a gap between when you make the sale and the event date. Therefore there’s plenty of time to revisit some of the upsell opportunities with your client. But do you? Is the sale done and complete the first time, or do you call, email or bring up the other items during subsequent meetings? If not, why not?

What’s the opportunity cost?

If you’re not asking for the upsell with your client (I’m talking about upsell items that will legitimately benefit them), both you and the client lose. They lose the chance to enhance their wedding or event (and of course they can decline them) and you lose the revenue. The revenue you lose is called the “opportunity cost,” or more appropriately the “opportunity lost.” Over the course of a year this can add up to a lot of revenue. Just imagine an extra $50, $100, $200 or more, in profit from each event. What would that mean to you?

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