One of the best parts of the wedding industry is that it’s recession-resistant. Of course, the other side of that is that you need to get a new audience every year. The holidays bring many things, including the beginning of engagement season. Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day are some of the busiest days for new engagements. If that’s not a holiday gift, I don’t know what is!
The gift that keeps on giving
One of the most important things to do when receiving a gift is to say, Thank You. And, that’s how I like to begin my response to every inquiry. Thank you. How do you begin your replies? Many wedding pros use: “Congratulations on your engagement.” While that’s certainly a nice sentiment, one of my clients secret-shopped their competitors and 85% started their email replies with a version of that phrase. That in itself isn’t bad, but I want you to create a different experience, from the first chance you get.
Don’t get spooked by the Ghost
One of the biggest frustrations I hear from wedding pros is that you reply, and then don’t hear back. In other words, you get ghosted. I’ve written articles about this, presented on this, and even written a whole book about it, and yet many of you are still experiencing the ghost. There are some easy things you can do to tweak the way you reply, in order to get more response, and better results.
So, here are 5 ways you and your team can convert more of the new inquiries you’ll be getting this engagement season, and all year:
- Respond quickly, using the same method that they used to inquire – a WeddingWire survey said that nearly 50% of couples said they chose the first wedding pro to reply to their inquiry. Another survey showed that almost half expressed frustration when you don’t reciprocate their chosen method of communication. If you try to move them to a different form of communication, too soon, that’s a possible reason you’ll get ghosted.
- Keep your first reply short – it’s a sad fact, but our attention spans have gotten shorter. We don’t read, we scan, so sending too long of a first reply is asking for some people to not even read your message. Also, they’re at work, as we know that many of them are when they’re inquiring, and you’re replying. So, sending a message that takes up more than one screen on their phone is another reason for them to delay reading it, if they decide to at all.
- Don’t attach anything – from the secret shopping we do, I know that this is going to pain many of you. The most common reply we see is a copied-pasted message, slightly personalized, with an attached PDF brochure and/or price list. Five years ago, that was a method that worked better than it does now. More and more of us are reading our emails on our phones, and while a PDF technically opens on a phone, the experience is not great. Also, the implication is that the information they need is in that document, so just by sending it you’re delaying their response. And lastly, PDFs can’t make the sale for you. You have to do that.
- Remember to ask one, low-commitment question, at the end – two phrases I use, a lot, in my sales training, consulting and speaking are “reduce the friction” and “no dead ends.” Always have a next action, and make it as clear, and easy, as possible. Ambiguous next steps lead to ambiguous results. Clear next steps lead to clearer results. If you’re ending your messages with “Feel free to…”, “Let me know…” or “I look forward to…” you’re creating a dead end. What you want to do is ask one, low-commitment question, at the end, in its own paragraph. That way, when they scan your message, they’ll see the question, and will be more likely to answer it.
A low-commitment question is one that doesn’t require a lot of thought, doesn’t need them to consult with anyone else, and they can answer it now, on their phone, at work (when the boss isn’t watching). Asking about their venue location, guest count, whether they’re having both their ceremony and reception at the same venue, confirming their date, are all low-commitment questions. Asking for a phone call, virtual or in-person meeting, or asking their budget, are all high-commitment questions. I want you to not only be the first one to reply, I want you to be the first one to get a reply!
- Don’t give up – Another phrase you should live by is: “If you don’t ask, the answer is always, No!” I believe this so much that I had it printed on special cards to give my customers to put in their offices. Most wedding pros give up after one or two attempts, which is way too soon. And even with that, the time between the first and second attempts is too long, often a week, or weeks. What that means is that those who try more times have a better shot, just because most others have given up. Those of you who’ve heard me speak about this, or who have read: “Why Don’t They Call Me?” know that I advocate trying 5 times before giving up, with only a day or days in-between. Many people have reported back to me how trying more times, more ways, has increased their conversion. Some have even said that their 6th attempt has gotten replies from couples apologizing for not replying. Life/school/work had just gotten in the way. How many times, and ways are you trying before giving up?
The key is to develop your own voice, since people buy from people, not companies. You don’t want to sound like every other company, or salesperson. That said, there are some basics, like these 5 tips that can get you better conversion from your inquiries, whether through your own website or sites like The Knot, WeddingWire and others around the country and around the world.
They started this!
Keep in mind that this is not cold-calling. The person, or people who are reaching out to you have already done a lot of research. They’ve looked online at some combination of websites, reviews, photos, videos and possibly even got personal recommendations or, hopefully, saw you at another wedding or event. They’re beginning the process, so you don’t really need to sell them, you just need to help them buy the results of your efforts. Don’t sell ‘what’ you do, because someone else sells it cheaper. Sell ‘why’ couples like them hire you, and the results they can expect.
Bonus Tip – Get professional help
I know I said this was 5 ways, but I’m realistic and I know that some of you would just prefer to have me help you personally, as long as the economics make sense. The good news is that my days are filled with helping wedding pros, just like you, get and convert more leads. Whether it’s through private sales training, a small-group Mastermind Day (with a few other industry friends) or speaking for your company, association or group, I can show you how you, too, can get and convert more leads.
Think your company is too small?
Think again! Many of the businesses that bring me for training are very small, with 3 to 5 people. Others gather together some industry friends and share the cost and experience with a Mastermind Day. Some read my books or have me do a virtual consultation or website review.
© 2019 AlanBerg.com & Wedding Business Solutions LLC
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What can you expect?
Listen to these companies who’ve already had me do training for them:
“Our team left that day with strategies that they can immediately implement.” – Steve Sanchez, The JDK Group, Camp Hill, PA
“Your sales training is really working! I am closing more brides more quickly because I am communicating through email instead of phone calls or in person meetings.” – Rachel Mandel, Mandelette Photography, Chicago, IL
“We left recharged and with some great tips on how to be more efficient and drive better results. It was well worth the time and expense.” – Melody O’Shea, Beets Hospitality, Livermore, CA
Want to find out about having me help with a day of sales training, arranging a Mastermind Day with some of your industry friends, or having a 2-hour phone/web consultation? Contact me via email, text, use the short form on this page, or call 732.422.6362, international enquiries +1 732 422 6362