The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.
Frequently, the first question an engaged couple asks a wedding vendor is: “How much does (your service) cost?”
The question, followed by a brief discussion or debate about what the ‘business down the street’ charges can leave a wedding professional flummoxed. This post will suggest different strategies for explaining value and price, making every effort to stave off a snarky exchange.
Wedding professionals’ frustrations about pricing chatter are rooted in brides and grooms who do not have a thorough understanding or appreciation for the value of your services. This should not be shocking; this condition has become the norm. With the wide range of professionalism, design, style, talent, and experience, it’s no wonder many couples need more guidance.
Setting your pricing structure
The biggest problem I see with most pricing structures is when a business provides a price per hours of service. A wide variety of wedding businesses present pricing within the framework of time in direct service with the client, which can be really detrimental. Time alone does not constitute quality or a good result; as such, linking pricing only to face-to-face service at a wedding and/or reception drastically understates your total service time!
It’s a rare client that actually knows how many hours it takes to prepare custom introductions, track down obscure music, travel to the event, or a host of other event-specific tasks. Hours of work at a wedding and reception are a specific measure of your effort; however, grossly incomplete. The result is more subjective. Hours of performance do not equal the value of your efforts.
To convey this point, it’s not enough to show video clips of successful events or an entire wedding video to a wedding couple and expect an instant understanding. The degree of difficulty and necessity of special talents, developed over time, are hard to factor into price for the inexperienced. Ask yourself: What is the most misunderstood element of your category of business, or your company, specifically? Do you duck the topic or have you developed away to communicate key sales points?
Explaining the scope of your service
Another key factor in price discussions with your clients is scope. Similar to the issue with setting your price by hours of service, couples don’t understand the differences in the level of service you provide in comparison to your competitors. If you don’t explain situational differences in equipment, lighting, skill level, buttercream icing, menu options for special dietary needs, etc., you are just hoping the prospect figures it out.
A list of necessary and important unseen actions, executed by you, can be vast. For example:
- Meeting and phone call conferences with clients – answering questions, solving problems, keeping them informed.
- Planning and presenting your service, with it stands alone or part of the wedding or reception.
- Training and maintaining your staff. Making certain staff members understand the subtleties and nuances deemed important for the client.
- Coordinating with peer wedding professionals to allow the event to flow seamlessly.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. Effective service implementation by meeting or exceeding client expectations includes explaining the total scope of your service.
Address the F.U.D. accordingly
The term F.U.D. refers to fear, uncertainty, and doubt. While one should rarely introduce negative factors into the discussion, it can be helpful if used sparingly and properly. Sometimes prospects will ask ‘what if’ questions, which you can use to help position your business ahead of the competition. For example, consider the following examples to help maximize the perception of your company’s preparedness and expertise:
- “What if you’re running late to the ceremony?” Timeliness is key for our business, so we arrive 30 minutes prior to the start of your event. All our drivers carry a ‘roadside assistance’ card to ensure timely arrivals in the case of a breakdown.
- “What if your equipment fails right before the reception?” We bring backup equipment to all our events, plus additional power cords, tape, and other essentials to keep the party running smoothly.
- “What if our guests have questions or requests?” We pride ourselves in top-notch customer service. All of our staff members are trained to handle questions and manage expectations when issues arise.
Addressing their fears, uncertainty, and doubt in this way can position your company as not just highly talented but ready to face a wide variety of challenges, and provide your client and their guests with a superb wedding experience.
So when it comes to pricing questions, think about the true value of your services, not just the price. The amount of hours you put into your work should not be the only factor in what your clients pay you, but remember that they’re also paying for your expertise, not a laundry list of features. The key to a successful pricing strategy is to position your business as the most knowledgeable, hard-working, and committed option. If you’ve done that, the number becomes less important.