The wedding industry is made of some of the brightest individuals I have ever met. It pains me when I see under-appreciated talent. How do we change that? How do we teach the customer what to look for when they hire wedding vendors? How do we teach customers to value experience and service at any cost?
One segment of the market that I think is often undervalued is the service offered by wedding planners. I can’t believe most people think they can get away without hiring a planner. Planners bring all of the magic of a wedding together. Few people know how to throw a celebration quite to the scale of a wedding. How do we teach the customer that this is a very important and valuable part of the wedding? How do we teach customers to value wedding professionals?
Here are some ways we need to stand united as an industry:
- Consider your pricing
It’s common to make the rookie mistake of entering this industry with low pricing in order to compete solely based on budget. However, this will not only have a negative impact on the profitability of your business, but also devalues the industry as a whole. By setting your prices below market value, you are telling the customer, “I’m not worth it and everyone else in this industry is charging too much for their services.” It’s important to consider your pricing and think of not only what your product should be valued at, but also how this pricing plays an important role in the market. Read more about pricing for the wedding industry here.
- Experience and novelty both have a place in this market
It seems that most people are either a veteran or a novice in the wedding industry. Veterans have years of experience and performance on which one can rely while novices have new and fresh ideas that are enticing to clientele. How can the two work together? Experienced vendors can do a better job of mentoring new individuals. There is much opportunity in this market to mentor and coach more often. Newer individuals can be proactive and take cues from experienced vendors. There is a lot to be learned. Ask, network, train with people in your segment that you respect and value. If you are a newbie, make yourself more valuable by learning from the expert. On the flip side, if you are a pro, work with others to become experts!
- Get to know the customer and make sure they get to know you too!
This might go without saying, but I’ll say it anyways: get to know the customer. In the wedding business, it’s all about “a match” between vendor and client. If you know who they are – and what their wedding is all about – chances are you’ll find a better fit for them. But, just as important is that they know about you… and what makes your business a match for them. Share with them, as they share with you.
- Refer individuals that you value but that are truly a match
It’s easy to refer someone to a friend. But, it’s better to refer someone to a valuable individual that is a match with the couple’s personality and needs. Before referring anyone, I always ask the the couple what they are looking for in a florist, photographer, or wedding planner. A person who makes good referrals is like someone who is a good matchmaker. Be a good matchmaker!
- Be accountable
There is no college degree or certification that is mandatory to be part of the wedding industry. That is what makes this business a truly blended and beautiful assortment of talented and creative individuals. But, this does not discount the fact that you need to be accountable to your profession. Be professional and accountable for your business decisions. By raising the bar of your business, you elevate the industry as a whole.
- Teach the customer what they should look for in hiring their vendors
I’ve seen some industry blogs that give their clients guidelines on questions to ask their wedding vendors. This is awesome! It’s important for engaged couples to ask the right questions. These are some questions that are valuable for engaged couples (psst… you might want to post these somewhere… people should be asking these questions of their vendors!):
- Why did you start your business?
- How long have you been in business and how do you stand apart from the competition?
- What sort of guarantees to you offer?
- What is the most valuable part of your service or product?
- Why should I hire you?
In a nutshell… in order for your product or service to be valued, the industry as a whole needs to raise the bar on it’s offering. This begins with you. Do what you can to elevate the wedding industry and your business will be valued for what it is worth.