Photo by Anchor & Pine Collective
“My business can service all couples.” This is a bold statement and one that luckily I hear less and less these days. For 95% of us wedding business owners and managers, servicing ALL couples well is a far reach without compromising service.
When thinking about long-term success in a passion-based business, there should be two main goals — your happiness and the couple’s happiness. If both aren’t happy, it’s tough to have long-term success.
You might be thinking that a business in which you AND the couple are both happy sounds like a world filled with sprinkles and unicorns. However, this is an actual viable business model for entrepreneurs/business owners in the wedding industry, and it all revolves around the concept of the ideal client (or in our case, the ideal couple).
In order to work with this model, you must first start by developing a business model that makes you happy and then determine the type of ideal couple you hope to service. If there are enough couples to fit your ideal type and support your business model, the next step is to create targeted marketing and a customer experience plan that will meet or exceed the expectations of those couples.
This model of focusing on the ideal couple allows for:
More targeted marketing with a better return on dollars spent
Less money/time spent on delivering a great and fitting customer experience
And most importantly, you guarantee more future business through the ideal couple cycle
The Ideal Couple Cycle
The goal of your business is not just to attract ideal couples, but to create an “ideal couple cycle” which will fill your business year after year with couples that make you happy and are very satisfied themselves.
The ideal couple cycle is built on the premise that everything within your business is designed, built, written, etc. to attract your ideal couple This means having a marketing message that speaks to them, advertised in places they’re looking, pricing that is in a range they are willing to pay, and a customer experience that meets their expectations.
If all of this is done right, the ideal couple cycle goes as follows: couples are attracted to you by your marketing messaging, your customer experience meets or exceeds their expectations, they leave you great reviews and then refer you to everyone. Those great reviews and referrals lead not only to more couples but to more ideal couples since what they are reading confirms your marketing messaging and your worth/values. These couples are then contacting you as a much warmer lead.
What also powers the ideal couple cycle is that if you are regularly working with your ideal couples, you also end up working with other vendors who serve the same, or relatively the same, types of couples. By rocking it for these couples, while playing well with these other vendors, you will also increase your vendor referrals. This goes a long way toward bringing in more ideal couples.
Messaging and Imagery
To get this ideal couple cycle going and keep it going, your marketing message needs to speak to your ideal couples and needs to appear in the places that your ideal couples are looking. For instance, if you are working the low-cost market, then advertising on Craigslist using words like inexpensive, simple, budget, no frills, etc. might be a perfect fit for your business. If not, advertising there and using those words likely would not be the right fit for your business.
Tips to create messaging that fits your ideal couples:
Look at your reviews. What they mention is important, and how they describe you should then be heavily represented in your messaging. I cannot emphasize this enough – use their words!
Ask other vendors who you have worked with to describe you and your business. Ask them how they would talk about you to a couple they want to send your way. Use their words too.
While you can look at reviews and marketing materials of others who service the same ideal couples for inspiration, do not steal… your messaging needs to be your messaging, and needs to fit what you can and do truly deliver on.
Your pictures are just as much a part of your “messaging” to attract ideal couples and should fit accordingly.
To determine the where, track how your ideal couples find you, and spend more time and money advertising in those places.
By focusing your messaging and your marketing on your ideal couples, you will end up getting more inquiries that fit, which means more inquiries that turn into bookings, and therefore a better return on your marketing investment and efforts.
Now, let’s talk about the less money/time spent on delivering a customer experience. Think of it this way, by trying to service those across all price-points, you either: need multiple sets of processes and are likely using your systems in multiple different ways, which takes more time and effort to set-up and manage on a daily basis; or, you have one set of processes, probably set for a middle ground customer experience, which will make the couples paying you the least very happy but won’t do much for those couples paying the middle to high rate. At best, your business will end up with a range of reviews and maybe a certain number of couples will still come to you, but it is going to be more marketing work to maintain the business over the years and, you probably won’t be as happy.
A few pieces of overall advice:
This cycle can’t get started if you are taking couples that aren’t your ideal couples.
Once the cycle is rolling, you still need to maintain it. Keep up your marketing, reviews, and quality of your customer experience. Also, maintain your vendor relationships.
Always be paying attention to what is happening with your ideal couples. Are their demographics changing? Are changes in thinking or an outside influence causing your pool of ideal couples to shrink? If so, what do you need to change in your business model or messaging to change with it?
I also want to point out that there are all kinds of happy. If your happiness is purely money-based, then you probably would be looking for the largest market segment that you could serve well… it could be the low price + high volume segment, or the exact opposite with the high price + low volume segment. Either one might be fine to focus on. The key is to remember that it is very tough to create and build a business that can serve both markets well. And, by having a business that is focused on serving whichever market you choose and can serve well, you are properly feeding your ideal couple cycle.
Bethel Nathan is a San Diego based wedding officiant, business coach, and industry speaker. Combining her years of corporate and small business experience with a love for marrying awesome couples, Bethel built Ceremonies by Bethel, a successful and award-winning Officiant business. And although still officiating, Bethel now has another love… helping others turn their passions into successful and sustainable businesses. Learn more at www.elevatebybethel.com.