» Staying Relevant in the Changing Wedding Landscape

Fierce & Fringe Photography

Change can be hard, yet change is constant–especially in this industry. This means that we need to be able to predict and prepare for anything.  

Speaking honestly, it can get quite hectic. So, let’s break it down a little bit:

  • It’s an industry where our clients are hiring us for a single transaction (whether a product or a service), which means that we are constantly having to look for new clients to keep our businesses going.

  • That one transaction, though, is for a momentous moment in their life, so it’s not insignificant to them nor one they take lightly.

  • This is often the largest amount of money they have spent in one sitting.

  • And yet it’s also a brand-new experience to them, purchasing things they have little to no experience with.

  • At the same time, many of our clients are consistently price shopping and asking for discounts, partially because the dollars involved seem so large and partially because much of what they are hearing in wedding media or from family/friends say that they can (and should).

  • Plus, most of us have quite a bit of competition in our specific categories, due to relatively low barriers to entry, with new competitors entering regularly.

  • Then, add in that our clients almost always fall within a certain age range, no matter how old we get – which means that the spread between your age and their age grows every year.

  • And new trends (in weddings, food, attire, business, technology, etc etc etc…) emerge every year.

So, yes, maybe dynamic to the point of crazy would be a very appropriate way to describe owning and managing a wedding-related business.   

All of this means that we have to be, at the least, responding to change on a consistent basis and at the most, trying to predict change so that we can be ahead of it when it happens. Do you know a wedding pro who was super successful with a fully-booked calendar five years ago but is now struggling?  Although it can be a combination of reasons–like the forever changing landscape of what couples want and look for in wedding professionals, a lack of modernization in business practices or even the assumption that one can coast on prior success and relationships–a failing business could be prevented, or at least mitigated in some way.

No matter what the reason, you know that mandated disclaimer used in the investment world, “past performance is no guarantee of future results” – well, we need to take it to heart as well.

When talking with my coaching clients, here are some things that we talk about when it comes to change management and how to stay relevant:  

First, I like to put types of change into two categories: industry and client (or couples in our case). Industry change includes new technologies, new options that compete with the options you currently offer, and new marketing opportunities. For example, wedding cake bakers now having to contend with a myriad of other dessert options like donuts, nitrogen ice cream, cupcakes, etc.. While changes from the couples’ side include generational differences and priorities, wedding trends they want to emulate, and economics. When trying to predict and respond to change, it’s important to keep both these categories in mind.

Here is how I navigate the industry to stay relevant:

Paying attention to numbers – both inquiries and bookings. Where are the inquiries coming from? What marketing is working? What are your conversion rates at every stage in the process? Who is booking you and who is saying no? By keeping track of your numbers consistently you can start to see issues at earlier stages than if you only do your numbers once a year.

Attending networking events. Although less formal than educational events, networking events are a great place to chat with other wedding pros in your area. Having real relationships locally can help keep you relevant by keeping you front-of-mind with those who might be able to refer you. It gives you the opportunity to meet people who are new to your area/industry… maybe a new venue coordinator who is taking over at one of your favorite venues, or someone new in another category who might be a great fit for your couples. It’s also a great place to learn how other local wedding businesses are doing, what local trends are popping up, and compare notes about what is working for them and any changes they are making in their businesses.  

Forums and online groups. Joining online groups of wedding professionals, from different areas, can give you a better insight into what changes to expect.  Maybe something originating on the West coast in January and February weddings will be making its way into June and July weddings in the Midwest–allowing your change to be proactive vs. reactive.  These groups can also discuss what marketing tools and systems they are using, and the results they are achieving. While I always encourage community over competition no matter where you are, I do understand that sometimes the conversations within a nationwide group can be more honest, as you aren’t seen as each other’s local competition but rather as distant colleagues.

Local news. I know that this feels really old-school to say, yet it can help you stay on top of changes in the local market. It’s always good to know what the local economy is like, if there are new venues opening or if there are any local regulations coming into play that might affect your business.

Attending educational events. It could be a local meeting with a single education expert or a larger meeting with multiple sessions. Either way, educational events are a  great way to learn about new trends, technologies and ways to approach clients. And, don’t forget to visit the exhibit show if there is one. You might find something that allows you to streamline your business or something new and cool that your couples will love.   

Industry blogs, podcasts, etc. If you don’t have many local educational or networking opportunities, reading and listening to these can be a great way to get a picture of what others are doing, and how. Blogs and podcasts are also another great way to hear about trends that are coming or going.  

Reading what our couples are reading.  I know that as wedding professionals, we spend more time on blogs, podcasts, and articles that are meant for us and our side of the industry, however, we must also understand what our couples are reading. There are lots of articles to be found on wedding budgeting, trends, 10 best of something, etc. For example, as a wedding officiant, I should not at all be surprised by the number of friends and family performing ceremonies and by the fact that the number of them is increasing. After all, it is an option that has been written about on every major wedding information site (yes, frustratingly).

And yes, I understand that it’s very hard to be constantly paying attention to all of the above, while still having time to run your business and take great care of your couples. The point is to start small and eventually make these tasks a part of your regular working schedule. Be as prepared as possible and your wedding business can adapt more quickly and confidently.  

To learn more about evaluating and managing change, and to get help through the process, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.   

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.

» Diversifying Your Press to Keep Up

Change is inevitable in the world of Wedding PR, especially these days. In years past, you could enjoy a bountiful press portfolio by focusing on real wedding submissions, keeping an eye on HARO and participating in inspiration shoots.

With the ever-changing media landscape, and the increasingly competitive nature of wedding publicity, it’s essential to diversify your channels in 2019 to ensure your brand’s buzz is sustainable.

First–it’s time to rethink what promotion means to you. Yes, a fabulous real wedding feature is still a great way to go, and there are instances where an inspiration shoot will make sense for your business goals.  But as I’ve covered prior, it’s important to be mindful of media platforms on the rise,  as well as identify new opportunities where you can leverage your expertise, such as speaking. But in this day and age, it’s time to even go beyond that, and look to lesser-known ways to increase brand awareness instead of just sticking to what’s worked in the past.

With that being said, here are three ways to boost your visibility in the wedding space that may not come to mind:

Guest articles on your creative partner’s sites

The fact of the matter is, the majority of wedding professionals are servicing clients within 100 miles of their office. Even when you’re careful to make sure to work with a variety of event professionals, you’re still going to ultimately end up working with like-minded creative partners who share similar experience, values and, in some instances, style.

It stands to reason that prospective couples are looking at your colleagues’ websites, and are absolutely in a position to consider hiring you as well. It’s also a well-known statistic that couples are researching prospective vendors far before reaching out to them. They’re reviewing their portfolio, social media and every aspect of their web site, including their blog.

On the flip side, many wedding pros are challenged by the idea of keeping up with providing timely content on their own blogs. So why not make it a win-win and offer to share insight on your colleagues’ sites? You benefit from the publicity of being on a site that shares a likely similar audience to yours, while they can take the week off from stressing about writing a blog post.

Facebook Live presentations in targeted Facebook groups

Video has quickly proven to be an increasingly successful marketing tool. That being said, it’s also the perfect channel for sharing your expertise to a wider audience.

There’s no better-targeted audience than members of specific Facebook groups, so make it a goal this year to join industry Facebook and get a feel for opportunities to education, such as FB Live events with the audience. I happen to enjoy seeking out large-scale brands and associations that form a group on Facebook–whether because they all use the same tech program, or have been through a particular educational course.

I love the chance to increase brand awareness for my company by sharing PR insight in the FB Live format–it’s more informal, giving you the chance to share a bit of your personality. You typically also have far more engagement than if you were to present on a webinar, or even in person. In either scenario, don’t hesitate to reach out to the respective administrators to see if a collaboration is possible.

“Best of” lists

I am often surprised by wedding professionals that focus on industry related awards, but don’t look beyond that to consider honors outside of the event world. Most regions host small business awards, and you’re sure to come across “top 40 under 40” lists among area groups and media publications. Likewise, alumni groups from colleges and universities regularly pay homage to successful graduates in their respective fields.

While not directly connected to weddings, it’s a great way to leverage third-party credibility, as well as gain the trust of prospective couples. So carve out time this year to seek options relevant to your location, background, expertise and alumni relations.

If there’s one thing we can be sure of it’s this: change is inevitable, especially in this industry and most certainly among wedding media channels. By shifting your perspective, and remaining open-minded to new opportunities, you’ll be sure to weather what lies ahead.

 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

» For the Win – Matching Your Couple’s Expectations to Reality

Oksana Miro Photography

Couples base their expectations on two main categories: the wedding product or service they’re paying for, and the experience they have with you. A ‘win’ for any business is when the reality of your product/service doesn’t just match the couple’s expectations but exceeds it! This means not only delivering a good product but also a good customer experience–the journey the couple takes with you from the time they find you until the time they finish working with you. And that’s what we’re going to focus on here.

So, why does their customer experience really matter? Well, it all comes back to the concept of building an ideal couple cycle that makes your wedding business grow and become more profitable. If you deliver on the experience of working with you, more ideal couples will come your way through recommendations. All this for the win.

How (and why) to set couple’s expectations:

  1. The couple has most likely never done this before. You want to not only control the what, when, and how, but also make sure the couple understands them and agrees to them with you, otherwise they will set their own expectations which might not match reality.

  2. Use your marketing to set expectations. Since most couples have never done this before, their expectations of working with someone in your category are probably set by what they read in articles or hear from those who are already married. While their initial expectation of working with your business, specifically, is set by your marketing, reviews, and word of mouth references. This is why you need to make sure that all of the messaging you control is consistent and saying what you want your ideal couple to expect out of you.

  3. Customize your communication plans. From the time they reach out until the end of their customer experience, the couple’s journey with you is managed by your communications with them. Therefore it’s important that you create a communication plan that is customized to your ideal couple.

    A business that is lower cost but doing higher volume will most likely have, for good reason, a different communication plan than a higher cost, lower volume wedding business in the same category. Different ideal couples with different general expectations. Even your different offerings will need different plans, as you wouldn’t have the same plan for your full-service wedding planning client that you would for your month-of wedding management client.

  4. Start setting expectations early. I recommend discussing the major pieces of their journey during the initial meeting. I also recommend that when telling them about those pieces, tell them a bit about why you do it and the benefit to them. This makes sure that you are on the same page before they book you. For example, as an Officiant, I have two homework assignments that my couples do for me in order to create a custom ceremony. Since that is the only way I do it, they have to be on board with it, or we will not be the right fit and there will be mutual frustrations and disappointments, leading to less-than-ideal customer experience.

    After they book you, I recommend sending a post-booking email that reiterates the major pieces of the journey with more detail. Think of it as a map for first-time visitors, like you would expect walking into a museum for the first time. Help them know what to expect and when! In my case, I start the ceremony creation process four months out, no matter how far out they book me. I always make sure to let them know this and to explain the positive reason I do this. That way they aren’t wondering when we’ll start, and will be ready when I reach out.

  5. Manage expectations throughout the journey. When you are communicating with the couple about a particular piece of the journey, include some information about what is next. By keeping them informed you avoid them setting their own timelines that stray from yours. Getting things done on time, and smoothly, is one of the major reasons they hire a professional.

    Moreover, communicating expectations and next steps reduce the number of “out of the blue” questions or emails and allows you to more easily steer the couple back to the path you want them to follow. Yes, it’s still good (and important) to be flexible and communicate back when they get in touch, but the consistency and quality of the journey come from following the path. Remember: they haven’t done this before, and you are the expert, so help them in the best way possible.

By starting with the above and consistently refining these general ideas based on your business and your ideal couples, you can meet or exceed your ideal couple’s expectations, which will lead to more raving reviews and referrals, and more ideal couples coming your way.

See my webinar “How to Strengthen Your Customer Experience and Generate Future Business” for more tips on how to deliver a top-notch customer experience.


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.

 

» National LGBTQ Wedding Trends for 2019

These days, there are two overarching planning trends influencing today’s LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) couples — one follows a pattern of increasing assimilation into the mainstream market and its trends; the other follows an increasing embrace of broader, less restrictive definitions of gender expression. In order to better serve all couples, it’s important for wedding professionals to be vigilant about these two seemingly contradictory trends and how to identify the needs of each individual couple.  

Broadly speaking, with 80% of today’s wedding market represented by Millennials, LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ (aka ‘straight’) couples are looking to add personalized touches that play well on social media and serve their authentic expression. Thus, we’ll be seeing more similarity than difference in wedding planning trends between the two groups.

At the same time, wedding professionals must understand that younger couples are embracing the term “queer” as a more inclusive term for their gender identities, expression, and sexual orientation. Though more couples may be challenging traditional concepts of gender expression (and the traditional roles of “bride” and “groom”), this doesn’t mean that their weddings will be unrecognizable.

The key element for wedding professionals to understand is that while cultural assimilation is underway, LGBTQ couples still want to build wedding rituals that are reflective of their own identities, and the range of expression will be more broad than what we expected from a “bride and groom” 50 – or even 15! – years ago.

 

Mainstream representation

When I talk about “mainstream representation,” I’m referring to planning trends that are inclusive not only of traditional weddings, but also of seasonal and evolving trends for a broad swath of today’s couples. These are the wedding trends you’ll hear about in national trend reports, and these are the weddings you’ll see on the largest wedding blogs and platforms and in national magazines. The representation is increasingly inclusive of additional religious, ethnic and cultural wedding customs, and also will include same-sex couples and mixed-race and non-white couples. The unifying feature is generally the wedding wallet, as most of these featured couples are able to afford highly stylized weddings, photographers, and videographers.

Since marriage equality recognition has settled in over the past 4 years, LGBTQ couples have assimilated and adapted to the general wedding trends that suit their taste, style, and budget rather than their legal needs and familial support. Many same-sex weddings appearing in mainstream media sources, for example, look increasingly like their opposite-sex counterparts; the primary difference is whether there are two brides, two grooms or one bride and one groom getting married.

Accompanying increased assimilation, straight (non-LGBTQ) couples are demonstrating their curiosity and excitement about new wedding customs introduced in same-sex weddings. Many of these new rituals have evolved from the very practical purpose of adapting rituals for one man and one woman to be better suited for two women or two men. Today, however, younger couples across the board are planning their wedding rituals and receptions, choosing to adopt rituals that are less restrictive of gender roles and more accepting of an equal expression of love and commitment.

For all couples from mainstream sources who approach you looking for services, it’s incredibly important that you ask open-ended questions to understand not only what they are looking for, but how they see themselves and to which planning trends they are responding. The majority of the market is represented by engaged couples who seek personalized service, and want to be understood and supported in developing a meaningful tradition that is reflective of their love and commitment. It’s important to understand what a bride and groom might want and/or need; what two grooms might want and/or need; or what two brides might want and/or need. In sum, cultural shifts are impacting everyone.

 

Progressive representation

Though most couples (LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ) may be seeking personalization and a wedding worthy of a wedding feature in WeddingWire’s “Real Wedding” inspiration pages, there are also LGBTQ couples who still embody some of the needs and objectives of the early wedding pioneers. They are brides and grooms and bridegrooms who may use their own labels and be struggling to get their needs met because the mainstream market isn’t serving them. For these couples, rather than focusing on how to serve two brides or two grooms, the larger question is one of intentional service to support the couples who have a much more expansive (often non-binary) representation of their gender expression or sexual orientation.

Genderqueer and other non-binary couples, according to “LGBTQ Weddings in 2018: A Study of Same-Sex and Queer Identified Couples,” share a “strong fear of rejection” based on their sexual orientation or gender expression. Sixty-one percent (61%) of transgender and non-binary identified couples and 44% of same-sex couples remain wary. Significantly, 100% of married trans/non-binary identified couples (p. 38) are concerned about “religious freedom” laws that allow service providers to refuse to serve LGBTQ couples (compared to 88% of married same-sex male couples and 96% of married same-sex female couples).

Thus, when you, as a wedding professional, have the opportunity to serve a queer-identified couple, it is important to expect a deeper line of questioning and a higher expectation of understanding about the politics surrounding same-sex marriage, the queer community, and gender identity and expression. Know that historically marginalized couples may be slower to trust the process, having been mistreated, misgendered or misunderstood previously in their planning process.

 

Goodbye to service refusal

Though there are still questions on service refusal to be settled in the courts and by lawmakers, the wedding industry – as a whole – has chosen to be inclusive and welcoming of same-sex couples. In 2017, a majority of wedding professionals (67%) said they believe that wedding-related businesses should be required to serve same-sex couples; a minority of vendors (32%) supported service refusal. Notably, a number of those who support the right of a business owner to refuse service also said that they think same-sex couples should be served.

Though couples do still express concerns about rejection and discrimination, the market has evolved to offer more powerful examples of unconditional acceptance according to the rule of law (eg, WeddingWire’s non-discrimination policy) than rejection. And, even with a few road bumps along the way, I see this trend continuing to spread from coast to coast throughout 2019.

 

Kathryn Hamm

 

This post was written by Kathryn Hamm WeddingWire Education Expert, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

» 3 Signs You Need a Change

Photo by Vanessa Joy

We all get burnt out every once in a while. Sometimes the rut passes, but occasionally these ruts are trying to tell us something about the bigger picture. And a little fatigue can turn into a downward spiral if you’re not careful.

If this sounds all too familiar, keep reading for the three signs that might indicate these ruts are trying to tell you something.

Sign 1

You’re not getting any new work

This can be an indicator of a number of things, but could be because 1 – you’re not marketing your business well or 2 – your clients aren’t happy.

I admit marketing in the wedding industry can be tricky and ever-changing. There are a myriad of ways to market your business, and what works for your competitors might not work for you. Finding a marketing plan that works for you does involve some trial and error, and sometimes being in a rut is the perfect time to try something new.

If you think the problem is that your clients aren’t happy and aren’t referring you new work, check your WeddingWire reviews. They can be a great barometer to help you understand if you’re meeting your clients’ expectations. Also, don’t forget to take the time to respond to the clients that took the time to write you a review. Couples love to see that you care!

Sign 2

You don’t have work-life balance

I imagine that you didn’t decide to be a part of the wedding world to work non-stop, miss out on your kid’s soccer games and never spend time with your spouse. During wedding season I know as well as you do that things can get hectic. However, if you’re finding yourself constantly drowning in work and not getting to do the things that you want to do, it’s definitely time for a wake-up call.

You should be running your business, not letting your business run you.

If this is you, it’s time to get some help. Like literal help – an intern or employee. I know for some that might be an expense you don’t feel ready to take on. Even if you can’t afford it now, you can start planning how you will afford it in the near future. Figure out what outsourcing something will cost per job and then raise your prices by that much.

Can’t figure out what to outsource? You should outsource things that fall into one of five categories:

  1. What you hate doing

  2. What you’re not good at

  3. What slows you down

  4. Anything that you personally don’t need to do

  5. What you can pay minimum/fair wage for

Sign 3

You don’t love what you do

This one is a biggie because it can be pretty damaging to the quality of your work as well as your life. You should never, ever hate what you do in life. It’s 2019 and the world is full of opportunities outside of the regular 9-5 job.

That being said, you may feel like you never want to see another wedding again because you’re overworked, or you’ve had a few too many difficult clients. It could be any number of things, but if that feeling has been lingering for quite some time, then you need to figure out why you hate it. Identify what you specifically hate to do and use that to start a list of things that you need to change. Then, take that list and read back to the number one thing I told you to outsource. Start doing more of what you love!

If you’ve found some parts of your business you’d like to change, don’t forget about them and click away. Take time to think about what you’ll change and then find someone that you can be accountable to really do it. Sharing your plans aloud makes them more real and will motivate you to follow through. Turn burnout into a positive and 2019 will be yours!

Vanessa Joy has been an influential photographer in the wedding community for a decade. Starting her photographic journey in 1998, she has since earned 5 college degrees, and has spoken at almost every major convention and platform in the industry such as CreativeLIVE, Wedding MBA, WPPI, ShutterFest, Imaging USA, WeddingWire World, and Mobile Beat. Recognized for her talent and more so her business sense, her clients love working with her and industry peers love to learn from her generous, informative and open-book style of teaching. Check out more of her resources at www.BreatheYourPassion.com

» WeddingWire World San Francisco 2019

The biggest ‘thank you’ goes out to everyone who joined us this year for WeddingWire World San Francisco!

On February 5, we were elated to bring WeddingWire to the Bay Area to host our first ever World San Francisco. The event, held at the City View at Metreon, boasted a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Between nine highly educational presentations and a fabulous networking night, the event was a huge success. We had a remarkable time with everyone, and are excited to share some of our favorite moments!

Educational sessions

The day was filled with a fantastic lineup of presentations (and selfies) by Sonny Ganguly, Alan Berg, Rob Ferre, Vanessa Joy, Kathryn Hamm, Jeffra Trumpower, Bethel Nathan, and Meghan Ely. These presentations gave guests an opportunity to dig deeper into marketing, sales, pricing, trends, and social media.

*To access a free worksheet to put Bethel Nathan’s tips into practice, text WORLD to 345345!

1:1 meetings with Customer Success Managers and complimentary headshots

Our Customer Success team was delighted to have the opportunity to sync up with their favorite wedding professionals. They held 1:1 meetings to give personalized tips on how to maximize listing value and boost storefront performance. We also encouraged attendees to swing by the headshot room to get a professional photo taken!

Cocktail reception

After a full day of education, guests wound down at a two-hour cocktail reception. They mingled with other attendees, enjoyed savory appetizers and delicious drinks, and took selfies in front of incredible live flower walls. Our guests relaxed over wine in our lounge areas, which were decked out in gorgeous hues of champagne, coral, and emerald. We loved seeing wedding professionals in the Bay Area have the opportunity to connect!

Take a peek at the Facebook album for some of our favorite moments, follow @WeddingWireEDU, and be sure to check out #WeDoWorld on Instagram and Twitter for more event highlights!

A special thank you to our partners who made the day an absolute success!

» Building Your Brand: Going Beyond the Logo

Angela V. Photography

What is a brand? If I ask 10 wedding pros, I’ll get 10 different answers. Some people think it’s their logo, or their colors, the way their store or office looks, or the way they dress. All of those are part of your branding, but they’re not your brand. Large companies have identifiable logos and colors. One look at the Nike swoosh, the Chevrolet bow tie, the Target bullseye, or the Coca Cola symbol and we immediately know whose company it is. Small companies, like ours, don’t have the kind of marketing budgets to make our brands as ubiquitous.

Another definition

I was looking around online for definitions of ‘brand’ and came across this on the Forbes.com website: “Put simply, your “brand” is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name.” While I agree with this definition, it also makes it hard for small businesses where prospects are changing every year. Many wedding pros get repeat business, but since people don’t need your service themselves, month after month, year after year, you’re relying on someone who’s connected with a former client to know about you, when they need your services. Therefore, just hearing your name isn’t likely to get enough prospects to connect with your brand, the way they do with major, national and international brands.

Another opinion

Marketing expert Seth Godin said in his latest book “This is Marketing”: “A brand is a shortcut for the customer’s expectations. What promise did they think you’re making? What do they expect when they buy from you, meet with you or hire you? That promise is your brand.” That’s another great way to describe a brand, but where do they get those expectations? Where do they find out the promise you’re making? It’s in your marketing, your advertising, your website and the way you communicate with them. Of course, they learn about most of those things before you get a chance to have a conversation with them. That’s why it’s important to make sure your marketing, advertising, social media, and website do the heavy lifting.

It’s already been said

The great news is that the best place to find that promise and to raise their expectations is already available to you… right here on WeddingWire. That’s right, the reviews of your past customers is where your future customers are looking to see what you can do for them. They’re reading the reviews to see what they should expect, not only in the end product of hiring you, but also in the customer experience of doing business with you. Are you responsive to their inquiries and messages? It will be clear in your reviews. Are you a pleasure to do business with and caring to their needs? It will be clear in your reviews. Did you deliver, or over-deliver on your promised services/products? It will be clear in your reviews. And did they notice your attention to detail? It will be clear in your reviews.

Create speed bumps

I was reviewing a wedding pro’s new website the other day and I saw that she had reviews on her site, but they were too long, and too far down the page. You can’t assume that people will scroll all the way down your pages. And don’t assume that just because you put a review there, anyone will take the time to read it. The longer it is, the less likely someone will invest in reading the whole thing. You need short, sound-bites, and you need to be disruptive and put them where your site visitors and people reading your marketing materials are already looking. I told my client to think of these sound-bite reviews and testimonials as speed bumps.

We don’t stop our cars when we approach a speed bump, but we do slow down, and that’s what we want our site visitors to do. That’s what we want when they’re reading our brochures, price lists, menus, and business cards. Don’t cluster all of your reviews in one place. Spread them out on every page. Start with the pages they view the most (your analytics can show you that), and then work your way to the other pages. Your analytics will likely show you, as it does for all of my clients, that a dedicated Testimonials, Reviews or Kudos page is one of the lesser viewed pages on your site. That makes sense since your site visitors have likely read reviews before getting to your site (a likely reason they came in the first place). It also makes sense that they wouldn’t want to view a page that they know you only filled with the best of the best things that have been said about you. That’s why we need to put them on the pages that they want to see (and the ones your analytics shows you they’re already visiting). Oh, and don’t put dates on them unless you plan on changing them regularly. Do add attribution (maybe first names, their city/state or their venue name and city/state) to help incrementally with SEO.

Be strategic

Choose which sound-bites to put based upon what’s being said at that point, on that page. For example, if you put them on your Packages or Pricing page, choose ones that talk about what a great “value” you are, or how it was “worth more than I paid.” If it’s on a page about your food (for caterers, venues, cake bakers, etc.) then use ones that talk about how delicious the food was, or how their guests can’t stop raving about the food, or how it was the best food they’ve ever had at a wedding. If you’re a band or DJ, use ones that talk about the dancing or the fun they and their guests had. If you’re a bridal shop, use testimonials that talk about the experience of buying their dress, in addition to ones that talk about how great it fit.

Use reviews in your conversations

Another place that I use reviews, and so should you, is in the email/messaging/text conversations that we have with our customers and prospects. When someone asks if you can do a particular service, don’t just say “Yes”, punctuate that with a sound bite testimonial. For example, if you’re a wedding planner and they ask if you can help them with finding a venue, answer them: “Yes, of course, that’s one of our favorite ways to help you. We helped Jenny and Steve find their venue and they wrote (insert quote from Jenny and Steve about helping find their venue).”

The big three

I have literally hundreds of reviews of my speaking, website reviews, and sales trainings, yet I keep asking for new ones from my current clients and audiences. Why? Because, in my opinion, the three things that matter when it comes to reviews are: 1) the number of reviews 2) the average score/rating and 3) the recency – they care more about what you did last month, than how long you’ve been doing it. I’ll add that, for me, it’s also that the next thing someone says, or writes could be the best thing I’ve ever received. Just when you think you’ve gotten the best review ever, someone else writes something new or says it in a different way, that is even better than what you already have.

I recommend updating the sound-bite reviews on your website and marketing only when you get something better. And for a side-note, updating the reviews on your website is a good way to add fresh text to your site, something the search engines prefer. So, use the WeddingWire Review Collector, or ask directly, so you get the new branding messaging you need.

WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP 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.

 

» 2019 Press Material Prep: What to Add, Toss and Update in the New Year

With sights set on 2019, now is the time to update your press materials to ensure you are wedding PR-ready. Times are changing, so this year –– what’s best to add, update or toss altogether?

What to add: info one-sheet

If speaking or more podcast interviews are a part of your plans in 2019, consider creating a one-sheet PDF to distribute when pitching. Typically branded in your company colors and featuring a headshot, the one sheet can include, but is not limited to:

  • A brief bio

  • Top topics

  • If speaking, topic descriptions

  • Association affiliations/memberships

  • Awards

  • Recent speaking (if applicable)

  • Links to social media and web site

While those to whom you’re pitching will ultimately need more information, this is a great start to give people a snapshot of your expertise.

What to add: dedicated media page

If you find yourself with a steadier increase in press, and you’re becoming easier to find on Google, now is the time to consider adding a page to your site completely dedicated to the media. This move gives journalists the chance to grab everything they need without needing to ask. It shows that you can anticipate their needs, and that you are easy to work with.

So what to include? Consider the following:

  • Recent press

  • Recent releases

  • Company history

  • Team profiles

  • Logo and headshot ready for download

  • Press contact (be it a publicist OR a dedicated email)

What to update: your press goals

The world of media is always shifting, just as your own goals transform throughout the year. Checking in with your progress and readjusting your goals as needed can set you up for future success. “I like to review goals after each campaign spring and then again once each quarter,” shares Christie Osborne of Mountainside Media. “Looking ahead, you want to see if you can replicate and optimize your successes and walk away from things that don’t work. Many small business owners forget that when they say yes to something that delivers average results, they’re often saying no to things that can deliver exceptional results.”

What to update: your press page

The general rule of thumb is that you want to have a minimum of (3) strong press features (be it online, in print, a podcast interview, etc) before setting up a dedicated press page on your site. Most wedding pros already have this in place, but the question remains– do you have it up-to-date? Ideally, your very top features should take the lead at the top of your press page, mixed in with your most recent press to show that you and your brand continue to remain relevant.

What to update: headshots

Headshots are a must-have for professional purposes — it gives others a look at the face behind the brand. More often than not, however, I see wedding pros saving the investment to coincide with business changes– be it a new website, rebrand or expansion of services. While this is absolutely a worthwhile reason to do so, keep in mind your publicity strategy and what role your headshot plays in it.

This is especially the case when you find yourself constantly coming up short with the necessary image for a speaking engagement, award submission or guest article column. If you don’t have a high-resolution headshot at the ready in horizontal and vertical, it’s going to be necessary to make time to get them done in the new year.

When working out the details, consider who you market to, those most likely to see your headshot and the style most likely to resonate with that audience.

You also need to be mindful of future usage, above and beyond press. Back in the day, headshots just lived on your website to give prospects an idea of who you are. Nowadays, they are used in a variety of different manners, be it for social media posts, print materials, or for pitching to media outlets and speaking engagements.

What to update: your event gallery

When media outlets are researching potential sources for a story, they want to see that your work is current and in line with your expertise. Are you, for example, one of the top destination wedding planners for LGBTQ couples? Then make sure your online gallery demonstrates this. Weddings date themselves quickly so it’s essential to do this quarterly.

What to update: your bio

If you’ve enjoyed any accolades in the last year– be it new press, new leadership positions, speaking engagements or awards, now is the time to make sure your bio is polished and updated for the new year. Have it at the ready as a Word Doc and Google Doc, so it can easily be shared.

What to toss: old press releases

Press releases are a rarity these days– they can be incredibly impactful but only under the most strategic of situations. With that, consider keeping just the ones from the last year and archiving the rest. These can live on your press page, or the aforementioned dedicated media page.

What to toss: media kits

Very rarely does a printed media kit make sense in today’s digital age. Unless your press contacts still crave paper, you’re going to want all media materials at the ready digitally– be it your bio, company background or team profiles.

What to toss: your old SEO habits

Search engine optimization is essential for increased brand awareness and reach, not just for prospects but for media as well. “If you are pitching to the press, you can bet an editor is going to check you out online before a big feature or opportunity,” explains Sara Dunn of Sara Dunn SEO. “In 2019, I hope wedding pros stop using spammy blog post titles that force in a keyword. Google is always refining its results with one goal in mind: to provide a great experience for the searcher. Rather than focus on SEO tricks in 2019, focus on making sure your website is awesome to visit. Get some backlinks – without other websites linking to yours, Google isn’t going to view your site as trustworthy. Pitching to the press is a great opportunity to build more links to your website, so it’s worth the time for the publicity and the SEO value for your business.”

 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

» Do You Do Weddings or Have a Wedding Business?

Karina Santos Photography

As many of you know, the wedding industry is a recession-resistant industry, and in most categories, the barrier to entry is fairly low — which allowed many of us to get in without much investment in the first place. Of course, that also allows many newcomers to get in, every year. Just as many newbies are getting in, many others are dropping out. And hopefully, dropping out because they’re retiring after a long, successful career. Unfortunately, many others get out because they can’t make it work financially.

Many years ago, I was contacted by someone at Yale University who was doing a research project on the wedding industry. He wanted to find out why so many people get into the industry when the economics don’t always seem to make sense. My sense is that because the barrier to entry is so low, not enough people approach their new venture as a business. Indeed, for many people it starts as a hobby or sideline. An all too common story is of the hobbyist who gets asked to help out a friend or relative, or themselves at their own wedding and is then offered money to work for someone else. Sound familiar?

So, do you do weddings, or do you have a wedding business?

There’s nothing wrong with someone getting into our industry that way. It’s happened countless times, and it will continue to happen that way. However, that scenario doesn’t exactly prepare one to have a wedding business. The skills needed to take photos, play music, arrange flowers or do calligraphy are not the only ones needed to succeed as a business. Understanding a balance sheet, profit and loss statement, accounts payables and the various taxes that need to be addressed are also critical to succeeding as a wedding business.

When did you become a professional?

I like asking wedding pros when they felt they became professionals. Many years ago, one wedding pro told me: “When I was asked for my insurance certificate!” That’s certainly a wakeup call for many hobbyists. I once referred a friend, who was beginning to DJ events (he had been a drummer in bands), to my son’s fraternity for their annual formal dinner. It was at a very nice Hilton hotel and of course, their budget was limited. He was willing to work with their budget, that is until the hotel requested his liability insurance certificate. I suggested that he take the gig, as it would pay for the year of liability insurance, and then he wouldn’t have that issue for another year. Instead, he declined the gig! So, instead of doing the gig, maybe breaking even, but having a year of liability insurance, he ended up with no gig, no money and no insurance. That’s not a business way of thinking.

So, when do you consider that you became a professional? Was it when you were paid to do a wedding or event? Was it when you did your taxes and had to report the income from your business? Was it when you were asked for your insurance certificate? I did an online search for the definition of a professional and got this: “(of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.” Since I know that many of you either started doing weddings as a sideline (pastime), or maybe are still doing weddings in addition to another job, I don’t think this is completely applicable.

How much time does it take to do a wedding?

Another great thing about weddings is that nearly 68% of them are on Saturday evenings while 25% of them happen on Friday or Sunday. If you have a Monday-Friday job, it’s certainly possible to do the Saturday weddings. Of course, there’s a lot more to a wedding than what happens that day. There’s a lot of preparation and admin that happens before, and in some cases (photo, video) after. Just as people don’t see the hours I spend preparing for a speech, whether I’ve given it before, or not, they don’t see the time you invest in making their wedding great. Are you getting paid for that time? Do you charge by the hour for the wedding day, not taking into account the hours you spend before, at and after their event?

I can do that better!

Many others started their wedding businesses after working for someone else in the industry. Unless it’s a capital-intensive category, like a venue or dress shop, that low barrier to entry makes it seem easy to make the leap. I like to remind people who are ready to make that leap that when it’s your business, you pay for everything. The toilet paper doesn’t just appear in the bathroom, you have to pay for it. The lights don’t stay on, unless you pay the bill. And the ads don’t get run, unless you place and pay for them. Doing weddings while you have another paycheck, is a lot easier than doing them as your sole source of support. Some of you have felt that pain. Some of you are still feeling that pain.

Chin up!

This should not be a discouraging message. Many of you have successful, profitable wedding businesses. And those successful, profitable wedding businesses requires investments in time and money. When you’re part-time, you can try to do everything on the cheap. Free listings, free apps, etc. I’ve always felt that if you want others to invest in you, you have to make the investment first. I don’t want my customers perceiving that I’m doing everything on the cheap. If I want them to pay my prices, I have to show them that I’m leading by example. Better graphic design. Better website. Better messaging and branding. Better continued education. And then back that up with a better product that gets them better results.

Which came first?

Notice that I put the better product last on that grouping. You don’t get to deliver the better product and results until you make the sale. You don’t get to make the sale until you get the inquiry. You don’t get the inquiry unless you’ve done the marketing. How are they going to find you? How are you going to break through the clutter and noise? Those are the things that differentiate hobbyists from businesses.

So, as we begin the new year, I challenge you to think about how are you planning to invest in your wedding business in 2019. Have you bought your ticket to a conference, like WeddingWire World? Are you a member of a local association or networking group… and will you show up to those meetings? Are you investing in advertising on sites like WeddingWire to increase your exposure? How are you going to improve your business skills, so you get to perform your technical skills at more weddings? I’ll leave you to ponder these and answer them for yourselves. I look forward to hearing your stories of success.

 

WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP 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.

 

» Booking Season Makeover – Make Your Business More Attractive in 2019

Havana Photography 

How many times have you heard, “oh, since it isn’t the wedding season, you must not be working too hard”? However, we know that our reality is something quite different.

With 40% of engagements taking place between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, it is peak booking season for most of us! It is also a time when we feel that we can more easily carve out chunks of time – more than the minute or two that might feel feasible in the midst of your crazy season – to work on our business, not just in our business.  

Lots of New Year resolutions seem to focus on personal makeover items. Yet, this applies to our businesses too – and trust me when I say that every business needs at least a little bit of a makeover each year, be it with changes big or small.  

So no matter how good this past year was for you, and no matter how good your bookings are looking for next year, you want to keep your business relevant and up-to-date. As you set aside time to give your business a makeover, below are things that I always encourage my coaching clients to think about:    

1) Take time off – Wait, what? Didn’t I just say that now is the time to work on our businesses? Yes, but taking some time off is working on your business since for so many of us we are one entity. It is very easy to burn out doing what we do, and if we burn out we are less useful to our couples and our businesses. Put an out-of-office email responder and get out for a few days to recharge, because your business’ health is as good as yours!

2) Evaluate the year – Can you easily answer the question of how well you did this year? Now, can you easily answer the question of how well you did this year… with supporting numbers and not just a gut feel? Knowing your numbers not only helps you determine how well you did this year, but it also gives you a good idea of how next year is likely to shape up while giving you quantitive support for making decisions to improve your business. Numbers that I recommend knowing – in addition to your gross revenue and net profit – are:

  • Number of inquiries and their source
  • Number of bookings and their source (yes, your bookings are different from your inquiries!)
  • Income and expenses by category/type
  • Average cost and average profit per wedding  

I also recommend looking at data from the different groups of clients you serve. In my case, I look at weddings vs. elopements, the number of LGBTQ, military or destination couples to analyze how far out I was booked for each to find my own average and busiest booking times.

3) Some strategic thinking – Once you know your numbers, you can start to make some important strategic decisions based on data. Think about, for instance, how many weddings you want/need, how much each of them will cost you to execute, and how you most effectively go about getting them. Doing this will allow you to focus your important resources, both time and money, to their best effect. After all, do you often get in your car and just start driving, hoping to get where you want to go, or, do you plan your route first?  

Our businesses should be the same way — we can’t determine our route without having some real idea of what will get us there. Knowing the numbers allows me to start making decisions about where to put my marketing dollars, which referral relationships I should focus more time on, and if there are certain areas of my business to either cut out or put more into.

4) Reviews – Knowing how very powerful reviews are (you can read my earlier article about that here) when doing a business refresh, you should think about reviews as well.

  • Follow-up with couples who haven’t yet left you a review, because the more current your reviews are, the better. I’m using WeddingWire’s Couples’ Choice Awards® as a great excuse to get back in touch to ask for reviews, since reviews from couples up to a year ago help me qualify to win!
  • Review your reviews part 1: Are there positive and/or descriptive keywords, phrases, sentiments, etc. that keep appearing and can be used to update marketing materials?
  • Review your reviews part 2: If there are criticisms that appear in more than 1 or 2 reviews or something you thought was important but is never being mentioned, you might want to take some time working on business processes and your customer experience.

5) Marketing – How much you do in this area just depends on how deep your makeover is going to be. At the least, I recommend doing the following two tasks:

  • Review and refresh marketing text and pictures: Remember, the pictures and messaging should represent what you want to do and speak to your ideal couples. And when doing this, make sure you not only update your website and the website listings you created, but also any other places you may be listed, such as your WeddingWire Storefront.
  • Use your numbers to evaluate what marketing tools are working for you and which ones aren’t: For those that are, would more resources there make them even more successful for you, like upgrading a listing or adding on an additional wedding show?

For those that aren’t, are there changes you can make to improve your return or would those marketing dollars be better used somewhere else?  Please don’t forget to factor in your time. “Free” tools don’t mean that your time isn’t going into them – as many of us have learned over the years with social media – so make it all work properly for you and your business.

6) Customer experience – And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about one of my favorite business areas, the customer experience. Business makeover time is the perfect time to make changes to your business processes, including your communication tools and messaging–hether it be updating the text in your templated emails or adding questionnaires to your process.I’m going through a lot of this now myself, using this year’s learning experiences to further improve my couples’ experience with me.    

Don’t feel overwhelmed with all of the things that you could do in your business makeover. I expect that, based on the age, condition and pain points of your business, you can probably pick at least a few to work on over the next couple of months. Event doing a mini-makeover will help you create a wedding business that is more attractive, smoother running, more profitable and more enjoyable. And that’s definitely worth the time and attention!

 

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.

» Will You Ever Retire?

Photo by Vanessa Joy Photography

I was recently questioned for using the term “minimum wage” in one of my videos on YouTube. The commenter assumed I meant that people should be paid under what he deemed as “living-wage”. It wasn’t my intent, but it did get me thinking. How many wedding professionals, business owners even, aren’t paying themselves a decent living wage?

It’s easy to think we’re making a ton of money in the wedding world because we take in a lot of money. But when was the last time you evaluated your costs? Better yet, when was the last time you looked at how much time your business commands of you?

The easiest way to determine how much you should charge is to add up your cost of sales (the amount of money it takes to actually do the job – typically staff and product costs) plus the cost of business (marketing, insurance, overhead, etc) and multiply that 3-5x. Then, as you grow in experience and skill, your pricing should grow to accommodate that plus inflation. To see a breakdown of that pricing method, download this pricing video.

Now, you may come to that profit number per job or per year and think, “I’m doing pretty good.” But now I want you to take that number and divide it by how many hours you work to get it. Are you making a living wage or just minimum wage?

A living wage should mean that you can save for retirement, and I believe that’s where a lot of us fall short. Let’s face it, weddings are a tough business. They’re stressful, long hours, physically strenuous and on weekends where you’re sadly away from friends and family. Are you prepared to retire one day? Or are you hoping to have a second career?

Saving for retirement is no easy task. It’s one that takes a lot of diligence over a long period of time. Dave Ramsey would suggest that we save 15% of our income for retirement every year. That seems like a huge number when you’re currently saving 0%. But you want to know what’s an even bigger number? The amount of money you need to have saved in order to retire.

Chris Hogan says that “Retirement isn’t an age, it’s a number.” If you want to see what your number is, go take his Retirement IQ quiz. Shocked? I sure was!

The best part of all of this? You have control, my friend! You own your own business so you can immediately make adjustments to start cutting spending and increasing income so you can start down the retirement track — even if you just started in the wedding business.

I didn’t write this article to give you three easy steps to retirement. I wrote it to light a fire under you because no one talks about this. Maybe it’s because we truly love what we do so much that we can’t picture ever not doing it. I get that and I’m actually with you on it. But, that doesn’t mean one day you won’t want to travel more, work a little less and spend most of your time with the people you love vs the people that pay you.

I’ve found my answers to business and personal finances in the two books. Entreleadership and The Total Money Makeover, both by Dave Ramsey. And I want to give them to you. I’ve got nothing to gain from this. Dave Ramsey is not sponsoring me. I just want to see my fellow wedding professionals have a plan and succeed at it.

The week this article posts I’m holding an Instagram Contest. Just head over to www.Instagram.com/vanessajoy, follow me and comment on one of my pictures telling me why you want to retire one day. Make it funny, make it serious, whatever you’d like. 7 days after this article posts I’ll pick the winner and send you both of those books so you can get started on living your dream after your dream.

See you there!

Vanessa Joy has been an influential photographer in the wedding community for a decade. Starting her photographic journey in 1998, she has since earned 5 college degrees, and has spoken at almost every major convention and platform in the industry such as CreativeLIVE, Wedding MBA, WPPI, ShutterFest, Imaging USA, WeddingWire World, and Mobile Beat. Recognized for her talent and more so her business sense, her clients love working with her and industry peers love to learn from her generous, informative and open-book style of teaching. Check out more of her resources at www.BreatheYourPassion.com

 

» Should You Focus On Volume Or Profit?

Photography by StopGoLove Film+Photo

In my conversations with wedding pros, around the world, the topic of how many weddings/events a business should do each year is a recurrent one and there’s certainly no one answer that’s right for every business. So many factors will affect both your ability and desire to do more weddings/events. If you’re just starting out, and maybe still holding down a full-time job outside the industry, there’s certainly a limit to how many weddings you can effectively do. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re well-established, maybe even looking towards retirement, you too may be looking to do a smaller number of weddings/events.

Growth strategy

But what about the businesses who are on the growth curve? There are different ways to grow your business. One is to grow the volume and another is to grow your average sale. Given the choice between those two, I would choose to grow your average sale first, so you earn more from each wedding/event. Then, if you choose to increase your volume, you’ll earn that much more. Before you decide to do more weddings/events, think about why you want to do more. If it’s to impress your industry friends, or as one wedding pro told me, to be seen as a major player in his market/category, make sure you’re also increasing profit. I’ve often said in my consulting that I don’t want to feed your ego, if we’re not also feeding your family.

Keep your eye on the profit

Regardless of which way you go, keep an eye on your profitability. Growing your top line is easy if you’re giving it away. Growing your bottom line is the better long-term strategy. Take a close look at your costs, the time it takes you to complete an event, and your pricing. Costs are relatively easy to find. You should know what the products, ingredients and raw materials cost for each event. Be sure to include everything you use, whether it comes off your warehouse shelf, or your kitchen shelf.

Time is something that seems to be harder for wedding pros to quantify. You invest time with each wedding/event from the moment you get an inquiry. How much time do you invest replying to their emails, calls and in meetings? It’s not just the time on the day of their wedding, it’s also all of the time before and after. For some, particularly videographers, there’s more time spent after the wedding than before or during. How much are you getting paid for your time? Would you take a job that paid that hourly wage?

The 40-hour wedding

While I was having dinner with a wedding DJ friend, he received a new inquiry that asked “How much do you charge for a 5-hour wedding?” We can’t blame the couple for the question, it’s the wedding pros who are selling their services that way that create that environment. If wedding pros only value the time they spend at the actual event, and not the time they invest before, and after, then we can’t expect couples to value that other time, either.

When I asked my friend how much time he actually invests in each wedding, he said it was somewhere between 30 and 40 hours. Given that he does a grand entrance, cuts and edits different music for bridal party introductions, displays photos, does a lighting plan and more, that’s a reasonable estimate. If he were to price his services, by the hour, for only 5 hours, his effective hourly rate is actually 1/6 of that. I suggested that he reply by saying “Thanks for reaching out. I’d love to make your wedding amazing, pack your dance floor, and have your friends and family saying it was the best they’ve ever experienced. I don’t have a 5-hour package, but I’d love to tell you about the 35 hours that I’m going to invest in making your wedding great.” – and then ask one low-commitment question.

What’s the value?

So, how should you price your product and services? I recently presented at WeddingWire World in Dallas and asked that very question. Given that many wedding businesses are service businesses (and yes, we can certainly say that ALL are service businesses, even those with tangible products), it’s really about your time, your creativity, designs, and ideas. How do you put a price on those? Do you price based upon what others charge? Do you take your expenses and then mark them up? Or, do you set your prices based upon the value that you are bringing to both your couples and to you and your family. You see, you set the price, your customers determine the value. Regardless of the price you set, if you need to discount to get the sale, then the actual value is the price the customer paid, not the original price.

Giving away profit

Remember that every dollar you discount is profit you gave away. Conversely, every dollar you raise your prices is additional profit you earn… provided the customers are paying the new, higher price. So, the next time you are asked for a discount, ask yourself how much of your profit you want to give away. Your customers are entitled to ask for a discount. When we’re the customer, we have that right as well. You, the business, have a right to say yes, or no. Just ensure that you’re profiting, regardless of your discounting policy. And, if you’d like to see how you can profit, from day 1 in your business, I recommend reading “Profit First” by Mike Michalowicz. It’ll change the way you view profit, for the better.

 

WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP 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.