by: Kyle Bergner
We had such a fantastic experience this year at WeddingWire World 2016! WeddingIQ was re-launched less than a year ago at WeddingWire World 2015 and we're so excited to have come so far in such a short period of time. Not only were Jennifer and I both featured speakers this year but our booth in the Marketplace allowed us to share our blog's vision with attendees. We met some amazing business owners from all across the country and listened to great advice from fellow wedding vendors and celebrities in our industry. Here are a few highlights from the week. Stay tuned for a more in depth exploration our presentations coming soon!
Okay, that title is a little misleading, since we're already on-site for WeddingWire World 2016. But you get where we were going with it!
We're so excited to once again be part of this industry-leading conference, bringing wedding business owners the best of technology, marketing tools, customer service strategies, and more, as well as unparalleled networking opportunities. This year's event is a full 2.5 days and is packed with amazing content, newly organized into several "tracks" to help wedding pros identify and attend the sessions most relevant to their businesses.
WeddingIQ will be hosting a booth in the Marketplace today (Tuesday) from 12pm-5pm, and on Wednesday from 9am-5pm. We'd love for you to stop by, say hello, and see what we're all about. We may just have a little WeddingIQ swag available for you, too!
On Wednesday, WeddingIQ's founder, Jennifer Reitmeyer, will be speaking during Breakout Session 4, with a presentation entitled "Branding & Boundaries: Attracting Your Dream Clients & Managing the Nightmares." Jen's session last year was so jam-packed that people were sitting in the aisles and standing in the back, so you don't want to miss out! Her presentation begins at 11:25am sharp, so be sure to get there in plenty of time!
Then on Thursday, WeddingIQ's co-editor, Kyle Bergner, will be joining Jen as the co-presenter for "Blog Like It's Your Business!" Learn all kinds of tools and tricks to make business blogging a breeze, so you get all the benefits. This presentation takes place during Session 4, starting at 12:15pm.
Of course, we'll be sharing all kinds of takeaways, tips, and behind-the-scenes looks at WeddingWire World via social media LIVE throughout the entire conference, so be sure to connect with us at the following accounts!
Kyle Bergner Photography:
We can't wait to meet and interact with you at WeddingWire World 2016! We'll be back on Friday with new blog content for you!
When working with clients, setting expectations is of utmost importance. Not only does it prevent any boundaries from being crossed, but it is also a way to determine if you’re meeting (or exceeding) standards. While some may feel pressure from expectations, the truth of the matter is that no one can be happy without them – you’ll get stretched too far and clients will not be satisfied if you can’t meet unrealistic expectations.
Once the ink has dried on the contract, it’s important to put all expectations out in front so everybody is aware of their responsibilities. Focus on things like your business hours (and how flexible you are), best forms of communications and response time, level of involvement from all parties involved, and policies regarding weekend communication.
Remember – client relationships are a two-way street, so open communication is key. I’ve found that sending out a monthly schedule in the beginning of the month works well as it keeps us on the same page while serving as a good reminder for them to stay on task.
Now, we all know that things can get a little complicated when there are a lot of family members involved beyond the couple. Sometimes, there are just too many cooks in the kitchen! You’ll want to identify the key decision-maker from the get-go, as it will make it easier to communicate if you know who’s really calling the shots. While some couples may insist they make all decisions, others may rely on those who are paying or they may just want to hear a lot of opinions.
While happy to listen to questions and concerns of the family, it’s important for you to keep the couple as your priority. It is, of course, their wedding day. Let the family discuss opinions early on – sometimes, people just want to be heard and will be happy that their thoughts were considered. Do your best to stay impartial, while also being an advocate for the couple. While a great-aunt may love the idea of an over-the-top ballroom gala, if the couple wants a laidback barn wedding, they deserve to have their dream.
When talking with clients and their families, don’t ever assume or promise anything in the heat of the moment. Open your ears and put on your listening cap, but defer your thoughts until you can really get an idea of how to approach the situation. When you give yourself to think things through, it’ll be much more logical and rational which is better for the couple in the long run.
At the end of the day, you must always remember to take care of yourself and your company. Use your wise discretion to determine when an argument is not worth the battle and just let the client win, even if that means losing them. Clients are responsible for telling you what needs to happen and your job is to make it happen, but only within reason.
Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.
As wedding professionals, haven't we all been burned by wasting time on meeting the wrong clients? Perhaps they weren't serious about potentially buying from us, or they were woefully unprepared, or we weren't going to be able to serve their needs regardless of how well we did in the meeting. Whatever the reason, none of us has time to spare on client meetings that aren't going anywhere.
So, in today's fun Friday Five post, here are 5 things to know prior to agreeing to meet with a client:
1. Are you available for their wedding? This seems like a no-brainer, but after almost 19 years in this industry, I can tell you: engaged couples get their own wedding date wrong all the time. Double-checking their day/date can mean the difference between sitting through an entire sales consultation with a client you can't help, or closing the sale then and there.
2. Can the client afford you? I touched on this in my post earlier this week, but there is no good reason to waste time trying to convince a client to buy from you when it's literally impossible. In some cases, a couple's budget has some wiggle room - but when they absolutely don't have the money to spend, or they value your service category so little that they'll never part with the amount you charge, there's no reason to invest your valuable time in a meeting. (You'd think clients would also want to avoid wasting their own time; however, experience has shown me that some couples like to 'test drive" expensive vendors just for the fun of it. Curiosity, I guess. But you don't need to indulge it.)
3. Is the wedding one that you actually want to work? Now, this may not be something you can determine prior to meeting in person with the couple, but at the very least you should have a basic idea of whether the client's event fits with your brand and whether the venue is one where you enjoy working. We all get to pick and choose the weddings we want to do - this is one of the perks of being a business owner - and there's no sense in spending time trying to close a sale that doesn't actually appeal to you.
4. Do you have the basic information you need to conduct the smoothest meeting possible? Helpful hint: if you don't know how to pronounce a client's name, consider asking them via email before the meeting actually takes place - you can even make a lighthearted joke about it to break the ice, if you want. Being able to greet them properly by name eliminates the potential awkwardness of realizing far down the road that you don't even know how to say it. Also, it's great to know how many people will be attending your meeting (so that you don't, for example, grab a table for two at Starbucks only to have six people show up). Finally, make sure you're familiar with their venue, even if you need to look it up online prior to the meeting, and make a note of who referred the couple to you. This is all handy information to have when you're trying to make a great impression.
5. Is the meeting confirmed? Nothing can completely prevent no-shows; however, taking a moment the day before to confirm your meeting - with the specific time and the location with address (again, if you're someone who conducts meetings in a Starbucks, some shopping centers will have more than one!) - will significantly reduce the chances of being stood up.
We hope all our readers have a great weekend - we'll be back Monday with more fresh content on the topic of wedding sales!
February is here, and we're excited to be rolling out a new content theme for all our posts this month: making sales! Throughout the coming weeks, you'll find all kinds of posts related to meeting with prospective clients, dealing with their questions and objections, and getting them to sign with your business. Our goal is for every wedding pro to make the most of all those holiday season engagements, and to fill their events calendar with clients who are dying to work with you!
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:
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?
Meet the editors
Jennifer is the owner of Authentic Boss, Firebrand Messaging and MyDeejay and is a public speaker, business coach and WeddingWire Education Expert. Her snarkiness and humor mask a true passion for all things business.
Kyle is the primary photographer and owner of Kyle Bergner Photography. Her down-to-earth approach to life and business is always balanced with a healthy dose of humor.
Will "Inspiration" Be Our Industry's Downfall?
Why We've Said "No" to Wedding Venues' Marketing Brochures
Haters Gon' Hate: The Wedding Industry is Vilified Again (Yawn)
Why Competition Isn't a Bad Thing
Putting Your Marketing Where Your Mouth Is: How Inclusive is Your Business, Really?
Just Gimme the Photos!
How to Protect Your Website From Thieves
Styled Shoots: Creative Marketing or Waste of Time?
Why "Wedding Confidential" Should Make You Proud, Not Mad
Throwing Professionalism to the Wind: Worst Sales Tactic Ever (and Here's Why)
Are You Feeding the Budget Beast?
It's Not the Economy, It's You
Why Gender Neutrality Matters