The wedding industry is an interesting one in that many business owners came from vastly different fields. I personally know many wedding vendors who previously worked in law, finance, real estate, education, and more. That career diversity, combined with the fact that there aren't a ton of business-focused resources specifically created for the wedding industry (hence my starting WeddingIQ), means that many wedding pros rely on more general business advice - advice which may not be particularly applicable to what we do.
One of the biggest differences between wedding services/products and the services/products in other industries is how we go about effectively selling them. By nature, everything wedding-related is a luxury expense (some more so than others), and the event that's being celebrated is uniquely emotional and incredibly important to our clients, their families and their friends. As such, a lot of traditional "sales" advice just doesn't work.
I've found a few things to be true about successfully selling wedding services:
- You need to follow current best practices for attracting the age group of couples getting married. This varies based on your market and your brand, but for most wedding pros, it'll be mid-late 20s to mid-late 30s. So, for example, if millennials hate talking on the phone - and it sure seems like they do, as do I, a decidedly older-than-millennial person - then it doesn't matter if phone conversations are what you prefer. You'll have significantly better luck stepping up your website and email game.
- You need to spend the majority of your time cultivating clients who will book from you, rather than trying to convince those who likely won't. Most business owners are probably familiar with the Pareto principle, which also applies here. If you're currently spending 80% of your selling time trying to persuade people who aren't qualified to buy, interested in your business, and connected with you and your brand, that's 80% of your time that's wasted. Imagine if, instead, you focused that same amount of time on bringing in the right people and doing other things to make money?
- You need to give your prospective clients the right balance of aesthetic appeal, credibility, and pre-qualifying information so that they can decide whether to investigate your services further. What constitutes the "right" balance? Well, that too will depend on your brand, and your target clientele; different segments of people require different things in order to be motivated to buy. As part of identifying your dream clients, you need to have a clear understanding of what matters most to them when it comes to major purchasing decisions, and provide information that serves their needs, front-and-center in your marketing.
That last point is the main purpose of my post today. See, old-school sales advice (which is still being promoted even today, even to wedding business owners) dictates that businesses should keep certain information under wraps for as long as possible. I've had professional acquaintances, and even some of my business coaching clients, tell me they don't want to put their pricing information on their website, because they're afraid they'll never get an inquiry again. They feel that, if they can't get a prospective into a consultation, or at least on a phone call, they'll never have the opportunity to explain to them all the value that comes with their product or service, and all the reasons the person should hire them.
To which I say: very true.
Very true, IF you don't include all of that value, all of those reasons, right there on the very same website with your pricing. If all your website has is your business name, the type of product/service you provide, and a price, then hell yes, your inquiries are going to drop off. But not because you included your pricing. Rather, because you didn't also provide the information that your prospective clients really need.
Your clients need:
....to feel confident that you understand their vision and are able to execute it per their wishes.
....to feel comfortable with your experience, reputation and trustworthiness.
....to feel connected to your brand and to your personality as the business owner.
Again, the specific information is going to depend on your business. Very wealthy clients planning a very high-end or design-focused events may need extra imagery. Clients who put careful consideration into their purchases may need more positive reviews, testimonials or confirmation from other vendors they trust that you are legit. Clients who prioritize their relationship with their vendors may need to get a real sense of who you are and what it's like working with you.
Regardless, when you're supplying the kind of information that fulfills these three specific needs, three things happen: (1) your pricing suddenly becomes way less intimidating; (2) the consultations you do book are much more likely to end with a signed contract; and (3) anyone who still isn't ready to commit to at least meeting you is definitely not your client and not worth the persuasion efforts.
See? More is more.
I really believe that, in this day and age, one-on-one consultations are a luxury, and it makes zero business sense to count on having the opportunity to speak personally with every client. Also something that makes zero business sense? Wasting your time with tire-kickers who blow up your contact form, email, and (yes) phone with that endless question of "how much?" Why would you not want to invest that same amount of time marketing your business, building relationships, and working toward your goals?
Give your website visitors the basic information they need to pre-qualify themselves (based on budget) and to pre-qualify you (based on their own expectations), and I promise you that more of those prospective clients will turn into actual, booked clients. And, in turn, you'll find yourself feeling less resentful and more productive. Who doesn't want that?