I’ve had a few conversations lately with wedding pros who are looking for couples who are spending more than their current customers. That’s a perfectly fine goal, that is if you’re willing to do what’s necessary to attract those customers. You can’t expect to do what you’re now doing and those higher-paying customers will miraculously appear. You have to approach this as if you were a new business because if you’re not servicing that segment of the market now, you are a new business to those other couples.
As I’ve said many times, there are essentially 4 steps to getting more sales:
1) Get their Attention
2) Get the inquiry
3) Have a conversation
4) Make the sale
How are you going to be found?
What are you going to do differently to get the attention of a new audience? What changes are you going to make to your advertising, marketing, website and most importantly, your network? I’ve spoken to quite a few wedding pros recently who have invested significant amounts in attending conferences targeting the luxury wedding segment. I recently spoke at Bridelux, in London, for the second time. Many of the attendees are there as much for the networking as they are for the education (no offense to me [Symbol]). People refer people they know, like and trust, and they’ll know, like and trust you more if they’ve spent time with you, in person, not just on weddings. They may not currently be spending time with you on weddings if you’re not currently serving that segment of the market.
Here’s my card, please refer me
You can’t just go to businesses that are serving markets that you’re not and hand out business cards and expect them to refer you. You need to earn those referrals, no matter how good your work. To earn those referrals, you need to first do the technical work to master the hard skills to be able to deliver at that level. Then you need to do the work on the soft skills: networking, volunteering, getting known by those you want to work with, by being a resource to them.
How can I help you?
As many of you know, I’m a proud member of the National Speakers Association- NSA – (where I earned my CSP – Certified Speaking Professional – designation). The unofficial motto of the NSA is “How can I help you?” a phrase that very well describes most of the people I know in the organization. Give first, then receive. How can you make yourself valuable to the people with whom you wish to work and network? Are you contributing value to their social media? Not just liking posts, but actually adding more valuable information to help show your expertise, in a way that supports that page, not trying to overshadow it. Are you volunteering at networking meetings, joining the boards, traveling to conferences?
Are you being generous?
Cavett Robert, founder of the NSA famously said that “we’re not trying to get a bigger piece of the pie, we’re trying to make a bigger pie!” If the people with whom you’re trying to network see you as a competitor and threat, they’ll not be very open to inviting you to their circle. If you show that you’re offering to help them, they’ll be more open. One of the benefits of traveling to conferences is that you’re likely networking with people with whom you won’t compete. They’ll be a lot more open to sharing ideas and tips if they don’t see you as a competitor.
What investment are you making?
You’ve probably heard that you should dress for success, so and if you want a job, act as if you already have it. I believe that you should invest in your company first if you want others to invest in you. How are you training and investing for the new market? Maybe you can volunteer to help some of your new contacts with weddings in their market (assuming that they’re not in your area). It will give you valuable on the job training and it helps your contact with an extra set of hands and eyes, and who couldn’t use a little extra free help?
On the job training with your current customers
Another idea is to offer some of your current customers’ additional services for little or no additional cost. Explain that you’re trying out some new ideas and they’ll be some of the first ones to benefit, and since you haven’t done it before, you’re giving them a break. Of course, make sure that those ideas are a good fit for them, as they deserve the outcome they want and that comes before you learning new ideas on their wedding. You can also try out some new ideas by volunteering to bring them to industry events, networking events, etc.
What’s the right market segment for your business?
Of course, all of this comes after deciding which market segment is right for you. One of my clients bought a venue that was charging a very low rental fee. Now that his fee is 6 to 7 times what is used to be, he’s bringing in a new clientele. He needed to, because the investments he made in the venue simply couldn’t be paid back at the old rates. But, he made the investment in the venue first, then he raised the rates. He’s in a rural area, so he’s not trying to attract a luxury client, there’s simply not enough of them in his area to support that.
Let’s talk about profit
Being realistic about which market segment you want, and what it will take to get there, is a key to your success. When I’m doing consulting and sales training, I always try to get my clients to look at profitability, not just top-line sales. It’s easy to sell more… lower your prices. What’s harder is to find the sweet spot of pricing, where the top line goes up, while the bottom line improves even more. Learning to maximize that balance is key. You may not need to look to a different market segment, you may simply need to look at your pricing and inventory. While some wedding pros have a physical inventory (limos, venues, tuxedos, etc.), every wedding pro has an inventory of time and dates. Whether you can do only one wedding per day or many, there’s still a limit on how many you can do, or how many customers you can effectively service (i.e. dress shops, travel pros, invitations, etc.). If you can’t raise all of your prices, maybe you can raise some of them. Maybe you can raise prices or minimums on the most popular dates (a WeddingWire report showed that approximately 22 dates make up half of all weddings in the US), while leaving your other prices alone, or even lowering them. Maybe you keep your base pricing the same while increasing your upsells. After all, once they’ve already booked you, they’ll be a little less price-sensitive to those additions. Every dollar you increase pricing without giving them anything more is an additional profit for your business. Similarly, every dollar you discount, without taking anything back, is profit you gave away.
What’s right for you?
So, as we close out this wedding season and approach the end of another year, it’s time for you to reflect on whether you’re fishing in the right pond, but maybe just need some better bait (better advertising, social media, marketing, networking), or need to find a new lake. Neither is inherently better for everyone. It’s what’s best for you to achieve your goals that matter. Just do your homework so you know what investments you need to make, before going after a new market segment. Your words alone won’t get you there. First, do the work!
© 2019 AlanBerg.com & Wedding Business Solutions LLC
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Need help deciding if you’re in the right market segment, if your pricing and packages are right, or how to move into a new segment? Here are a few businesses I’ve helped with their goals:
“Thank you so much for your insight into my brand, and how to elevate it!”
Rachel Mandel, Mandelette Photography, Chicago, IL
“I thought it was great that Alan gave real-world examples in order to help us understand a point.”
Christie McFarland, Bar-B-Cutie, Brentwood, TN
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