» Top Problems to Watch for in Networking Groups

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

A client of mine recently joined a local wedding association (on my recommendation) and boy did that leave us something to talk about.

Over the past five years, I have seen a rapid decline in local associations. The association my client tried out has always been a good fit for me, but when he showed up he had a very different experience. I have withheld the name of the association, so I want those of you involved in associations to take a long hard look and see if something similar is happening with your group.

Top Problems to Watch for in Networking GroupsHere are the top three problems I’ve noted with many networking groups:

  • There are too many cliques and friend groups
  • They don’t always practice what they preach
  • They have too many wedding professionals in one or two categories

Too many cliques

My client is a master networker as he has led groups previously as well as has 25 years experience in going to meetings like this one. When he walked in, he was not greeted by other members and he felt like an outsider. This is one of the biggest problems I hear about with any networking groups in the wedding industry and beyond. This is actually a big problem because people are uncomfortable in these situations and gravitate to those they know. This gravitation towards cliques makes it harder for new members to feel welcomed.

Whether you are new to your networking group or are an existing member, take this part of my client’s story to heart. Remember what it was like the last time you showed up somewhere and didn’t know anyone. Wouldn’t you have appreciated if someone made an effort to make you feel welcome? Having a group of friends in a networking group is great, but remember to look beyond your own clique and reach out to other members whenever you can.

Not practicing what they preach

At this particular association meeting there was a professional panel, and every panelist agreed that being responsive is key to establishing connections in the industry. They suggested that 24 hours was more than enough time to respond. My client wanted to connect outside of the meeting after meeting them face to face, so he wrote a very professional follow up email with these folks to start building a relationship. As of this writing, 3 of the 4 panelists have yet to respond.

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» Why You Should Stop Hating Sales

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

Nothing happens until something is sold.” – Thomas J. Watson

In over 25 years of being a salesman, sales manager and sales trainer, I run into people almost daily who say that they hate selling. While it’s fair to feel uncomfortable about being too pushy, the sales process often receives a lot more hate than it should. It’s time to stop hating sales.

Why You Should Stop Hating SalesSelling is a crucial element of business whether you like it or not. While you may offer the best, most perfect product or service in your category, today’s couples need to be sold. In the weddings and events industry, we especially need to be able to sell the couple on what we offer.

Many wedding businesses think that because couples need what they sell, all they have to do is hang out a sign and the business will come. You see this when people research the number of weddings a year in a given area, and assume they should easily be able to book their fair share of them simply by opening up their business. The wedding industry is not the movie Field of Dreams; if you build it, they won’t necessarily come.

Your competition is likely working harder, so you need to work harder. Your competition, most of the time, is not some evil entity down the street going head-to-head with you in back-to-back meetings. Your competition could have more employees, a bigger advertising budget or twenty more years experience than your business, but your competition could also include a novice business offering the same services for half your price. Worse still – some of your competitors could even be friends or relatives of the engaged couple. Brides and grooms today have a lot of options!

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» Why You Should Avoid Groupon Weddings

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

If you’ve never used Groupon to find daily deals in your area, you’re in the minority. The deal-of-the-day website features discounted products or services in your area which you can buy for a limited period of time. These types of deals are often successful because they raise awareness about a business and bring in a rush of new customers.

Several years back I actually praised Groupon for their effective use of email marketing – since the deals on Groupon change daily, they send daily emails to alert users to new local offers. These emails are also based on behavior, which means Groupon can send emails with more relevant offers to users. It’s a great email marketing strategy that yields high open and click through rates.

Through the past few years, Groupon has grown to include other offerings like Groupon Getaways to help travelers book cheaper travel deals. However, the giant misstep I see with Groupon is that it has recently started the Groupon Wedding Shop, which offers wedding products and services at dramatic discounts.

There are three main reasons why I think Groupon Weddings are a bad approach for your wedding business to consider:

Why You Should Avoid Groupon WeddingsThe wedding industry is a specialty industry. A wedding professional’s experience, training and personality come into play in their business as well as the results for the client. What we offer is typically unique to us as providers. You can offer what you sell for twice the price of a competitor, but your business’ quality could be totally worth the difference. The products and services we provide cannot be lumped into one price or discounted rate – there are too many other factors involved.

The only differentiating factor on Groupon is price. This thought process is a true disservice to couples searching for wedding professionals. Focusing on price will talk many couples out of the professionals who can truly be a perfect match for their wedding. In weddings, there are no “do-overs.” Lower-quality vendors with little experience can easily ruin one of the most important days in a couple’s lives. Your business should be able to justify your higher price to potential clients rather than offer discounted rates to compete with other local Pros.

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» How to Stay Motivated After the Busy Season

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

Zig Ziglar famously said, “Motivation doesn’t last, but neither does bathing. It is required daily.”

I have seen many people who need a boost after the busy season, so this week I thought I would write about the positive signs being seen in the market. Working with others in different markets throughout the country, I have a broad view and things are looking up – conditionally.

How to Stay Motivated After the Busy SeasonWhen I say conditionally, I mean that the conditions apply to those working their businesses. One motivated wedding professional can outshine an unmotivated wedding professional who may offer a lower price, a better product or more. The motivation of the individual has much to do with the success of the business.

As self-starters (most of us are owner/operators or in a leadership position), we are required to be self-motivated. At the end of the day, would I write myself up or would I praise myself for the work that I accomplished? I am careful not to set a standard of perfection as I would be disappointed day after day.

The key to motivation in top performers is maintaining the right attitude. If there are customers out there and your competition has somehow gotten a hold of them, your competition did something right that can be duplicated. The key to “realistic thinking” is that you need to truly understand that the business is out there. The challenge then becomes finding that business.

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» Becoming a Wedding Expert

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

In the eyes of an engaged couple it’s best to be seen as “the” expert in what you provide. People like to do business with experts, not novices, so it’s important for your wedding business to be seen as the foremost authority in the wedding industry.

Becoming a Wedding ExpertThere are specific steps you can take to becoming this resource to your couples that will help further your businesses growth. There will be some homework assignments that will be given, so get a pen a paper!

Evaluate your audience

The first thing I want you to do is to find the 10 most popular services that most couples book. There are 10 services that 90% of all couples will book – I know what these services are, but I ask you to do the work to find out, so you will own that information. Knowing what these services are is important for two reasons:

  1. If you know the ten services, you can then become versed in what the couple is looking for in these services. In this role you can be their expert advisor.
  2. You will be able to figure out what makes sense from a networking point of view. There are some services which are naturally at the forefront of the planning and will be first in the couple’s agenda and others which come later. If you are a later service, you can start to build relationships with the services that come before your service. You must first know what order you fall in the chain of events before you can start this networking strategy.

Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes

After you find out what the ten primary services are, I want you to become versed in those services. Do research as if you are a bride or groom by doing web searches on the various topics associated with wedding planning. By doing these searches, you will be privy to the same information that consumers see in their searches. For example, if you were trying to research buying wedding flowers, you can search “buying wedding flowers in [your local area].” Read the articles you find on the subject, then write your own report on “How to _______” (hire a florist, find the flowers you want, etc.). You will find that you quickly become well versed in the subject that you write about.

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» Branding in the Wedding Industry

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

Many wedding professionals are interested in creating an effective brand strategy that goes beyond a name, symbol or design to differentiate their business from the rest in the cluttered wedding industry. This sort of advanced marketing strategy can be tough to implement in such a fragmented industry, but it doesn’t have to be! In this post, I share the basics that will help you be successful in creating a distinct brand for your wedding business.

Branding in the Wedding IndustryStart with the goal in mind

Remember: the number one job you have as a wedding professional is lead generation.  Without leads, your business goes nowhere. To get leads, you need your business to be where couples are spending their time. In the mind of a couple, you need to be more than just “seen,” you need to effectively get them to convert or move to the next step. The most effective advertising that wedding professionals can put out is a multi-pronged approach spanning several different channels.

Most couples are not looking in a singular medium when they start their search for wedding professionals. They typically start on the internet, whether on a planning website like WeddingWire or through online search. I highly suggest that you spend 50% of your energy and budget on internet related marketing, then use the rest of your time going to bridal shows, buying ad placement in wedding magazines or collaborating with other wedding professionals. As you think about the various places your brand will be visible, it’s important to you look at three specific elements of your campaigns: the logos, the slogans and the colors.

Creating a logo

Your logo needs to be professionally done. With all the online resources available, there is no reason why you should not and cannot get a professionally made logo that makes you look like the professional business you are! Homemade logos (and any other marketing materials for that matter) make you look much less professional.

Creating a slogan

Using the same slogan or tagline also helps to trigger awareness. It’s not their job to sort out and pay attention to our advertising; engaged couples will simply pick out the Wedding Pros that they are attracted to based upon the advertisements they see. When you maintain consistency throughout advertising, couples are more likely to remember your business. Just remember: your tagline needs to be specific to you – using some vague slogan like “Providing the best for your special day” doesn’t make for effective branding.

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» How to Prepare for Your Face to Face Meeting

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

As a wedding professional, you may find yourself asking, “How do I better qualify my appointments?” We all understand that if we come prepared to the appointment, it means we have a higher probability of being able to close the sale (assuming that the couple is ready to buy). These tips will help you do your best to set-up the face to face meeting so that you’ll be able to better close the sale.

There are a few crucial elements to a proper appointment. These two key tips make a big difference:

  1. All or most decision makers/influencers will be there
  2. They understand what will happen at the appointment (primarily how much time the appointment should take)

How to Prepare for Your Face to Face MeetingHow to prepare for the appointment

The first part of preparing for the appointment is all about who is attending and getting the key decision makers involved. Many wedding professionals ask “who else will be joining the couple at the appointment?” The problem with this question is it leaves a wide gap for the couple to sneak through by simply saying something like, “Oh I will be there by myself” indicating other decision makers may not be there, and therefore that they may not be ready to buy. After that response, you have no room to move. If you ask them a follow up question related to who is coming then you are acting “salesy” which will put the couple on the defense.

The best way to get the decision makers/influencers is to ask the following question:

“Who will help you in making this decision?”

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