As much as we love what we do, we are all in business to make money. For some, it might just be a nice extra income to help pay for vacations; for others, it could be the way they are putting food on the table. Whichever it is for you, booking more Brides is the key to achieving it.
At the same time, this is one of the hardest parts, especially when you are just getting started. I am frequently asked, “Is there a process that one can follow that will work every time?” The answer to that is a big fat NO. However, there are tricks – no, strategies that are extremely helpful to guide a Bride to the conclusion that she needs you. Let me show you what I mean:
1. Have a niche. A niche is a very direct target market. It can be tempting to market to all Brides in hopes you will get more. However, it is much better if you choose a demographic that works well for you. There are planners who consider themselves Lux planners and only work with budgets of $100,000 or more. There are planners who choose to be just Day Of planners only. My target is a Real Bride with a Real Budget – so much so that it is my tagline. My Bride is generally in school or just completed school with a professional degree and her parents are also professional. Middle class to upper middle class. They understand the need for my services and respect the cost. I will do more weddings than the lux planner, but that is ok with me. Take a look at your past Brides and see what niche would be best for you and then market directly to them.
2. Offer a free consultation. This may seem obvious, but it is really important that the Bride get a chance to get to know your personality and you hers. My consultations run 90-120 minutes long (that includes filling out the contract and getting next meeting set up). Be prepared to answer her questions and to give a few referrals. You can choose to feel like you are giving some info away for free, but really what you are doing is starting a relationship & that is critical. Remember, most buying is emotional. You need to strike a chord with your Bride during this consultation. Be as helpful as possible.
3. Send a Vision Worksheet before your meeting. This serves two purposes; 1 – to get them excited for the meeting and get their creative juices going; & 2 – to get them committed to the meeting to lessen no shows. I created the worksheet with simple questions like what type of Bride are you, if they have any vendors booked yet, and what they expect from a wedding planner. You don’t even need to see it, but you can request they bring it with them. I always send mine via email after they set up a consultation with me. It really does help and starts your relationship off professionally.
4. Always use an Upfront Contract. This is a great way to start the meeting so that the Bride knows exactly what to expect and also knows that at the end, if she is not interested she can just say so. Here’s an example:
“Ok Becky, here is how this meeting works. I am going to get some basic information from you and then I am going to ask lots of questions; some you may expect, others you will not know the answers to yet, and some you will never have thought of. That’s OK. There are no wrong answers – only what is best for you. I want you to feel comfortable to ask me any question you have. I will also ask you to leave the thought of “money” out of your mind for right now. I know you are on a budget, but I do not want you to not mention something because you can’t afford it. You might be surprised what we can do! Once I have a good feel of your vision and your needs I will ask you if you have any more questions. If not, then I will ask you if you would like me to proceed with our packages and prices. If you feel we are not a good fit or you have to think about it, please just tell me. You will not hurt my feelings. I want you to be honest with me. If you are ready to book then we will go ahead and take care of the contract. If you need to go home and discuss it with someone, and someone calls for your date, I will tell them to still come in and meet with me; but that I have a Bride already interested in that date. I will then call you and give you 2 days to make your decision. Does that all make sense? Sound fair? Ok, let’s get started!”
This puts EVERYONE at ease by setting parameters at the very beginning. Once I started using this, my booking rate went up to 94%.
5. Don’t hold back during the consultation. This goes back to giving away advice for free. I have so many planners ask if they give too much during the consultation. I don’t think you CAN give too much. This is where the Brides need to know that you know your stuff. If they mention they spoke to the Country Club, say, “Oh, did you talk to Tony? He’s a great guy.” Or if they have an idea, you can make it better. For example, I had a Bride once mention that her fiance was addicted to grape kool-aid. So I mentioned we should surprise him with a grape kool-aid toast. She loved it and it was one of the most memorable moments from the wedding. You need to SHARE. Go into a consultation with the goal of helping them whether or not they book you. Prove to them that you are there to help them create the wedding of their dreams and not just to make money.
6. Genuinely get to know your Bride, Groom & their family. They are TRUSTING you with one of the most important days they will ever experience. They are trusting that you will be a good steward of their money. Get to know them! I try to send a little token to my clients monthly: a calendar customized with their date in January, chocolate at Valentine’s Day, etc… It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it goes such a long way. If your Bride is graduating from school – send her a congratulations card. If the Mom retires, make sure to congratulate her. You get the idea. Some of my past Brides are some of my very best friends and also, now my biggest fans. Relationship marketing is crucial!
7. CONFIDENCE! You need to exude the confidence that you can solve any problem that may come your way. Wedding planners are everything from therapists and weight loss coaches to the financial advisers and guard dogs. We are like a computer screen with 15 different tabs up all at once. We can do anything! Your Bride & Groom need to see that.
Booking Brides can be a scary thing. It helps if you be yourself, stop trying so hard and follow the advice above. Remember that they are looking for someone they can trust with the biggest day of their life to date. That takes getting to know them and allowing them to see you as a professional.
Now go get them!