One for the wedding businesses – in a world where networking has come to mean Twitter and facebook, here’s an excellent reminder that real relationships with other wedding suppliers are worth their weight in gold. Stephanie is from the US but her advice is relevant to any wedding business, no matter where you’re based.
2 Cheap Marketing Strategies That Built Our 6 Figure Wedding Business
By guest blogger Stephanie Padovani
As a small business with ZERO start up capital; we needed to get business as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Fortunately, we stumbled on two super cheap but highly effective marketing strategies that jump started our baby business.
Steph & Jeff Get a Break
Back in 2000 when we started our business, Jeff and I were working 12 hours shifts for a Fortune 500 company who shall remain nameless. (Hint: Think Big Blue.)
Our illustrious goal: make an extra $500 a month.
We didn’t have any experience as DJs, but thankfully, we did have my husband’s big mouth. 🙂
Thanks to Jeff’s habit of talking to everyone about everything we’re up to, one of our co-workers made a suggestion. “Call up DJ Joe. He’s so cool that he did both my weddings!”
With trembling hands, I called DJ Joe, explained that we would like to get into the business, and asked for his advice.
Joe spent 45 minutes on the phone with me. “Why don’t you come over,” he said. “I’ll try to talk you out of it. But at the end, if you still want to be a DJ, I’ll show you the ropes.”
Long story short, we met with Joe and hit it off. He let us shadow him on the job (with me scribbling furious notes) and taught us everything he knew about being a wedding DJ…for free.
After we’d worked six weddings with him, Joe announced, “You’re ready to do it on your own. I’m going to start sending you referrals.”
The next day, the phone started ringing. Our business was born.
The Power Lunch
Our relationship with DJ is single-handedly responsible for literally thousands of dollars of revenue for our business.
But was that awesome connection just a freak accident?
No. It’s the result of a technique we call, “The Power Lunch.”
Partnerships inside the wedding business are the most powerful marketing you can get. The Power Lunch is something you can do, too.
Of course, not every connection you make will be as profitable as the one we had with DJ Joe. But I guarantee that you WILL get a benefit.
Here’s the Power Lunch recipe:
1. Identify 5 respected wedding professionals in your local area who work with the kind of clients you’d like to attract. Try for people who are not direct competitors (though they can be powerful allies, it’s a little trickier to pull off) and target businesses your clients visit just before they start hunting for your service.
2. Contact these individuals by phone–not email–and ask them to lunch. If you have a mutual friend, be sure to use their name.
3. At your meeting, pay for their lunch and specifically ask for their help and advice. Let them talk. If possible, share resources, ideas and strategies with them.
4. After your lunch, follow up with them. Send them a thank you gift or postcard (see strategy #2 below) or send them an article related to a topic you discussed. Keep the relationship going.
That’s it! A little of your time and some pocket cash can yield a huge return on investment.
Why does it work?
1) People like to talk about themselves, especially when it comes to sharing something they know.
2) When you use the phrase, “I need your help,” it kicks in something psychologically engrained in us humans that makes us want to help out.
3) When you pay for their lunch, this creates an unconscious psychological pressure in them to do something nice for you in return…such as sending you a referral.
Not everyone you contact for a meeting will respond. In fact, expect only 1 or 2 of those 5 people you contact to actually set a lunch date with you.
But you don’t need all five; you just need the right person. Someone like our DJ godfather who loves to help others and enjoys being a “mentor.”
This person is already well-established in the business and your relationship with them will keep sending you referrals for as long as you maintain it.
The Unforgettable Postcard
The second strategy that really helped us make a splash as newbie wedding professionals is equally simple and cheap. We call this the “Unforgettable Postcard.”
We had a photographer friend take an attractive photo of the two of us (for free) in the nearby Vanderbilt Gardens. We had this photo printed onto a postcard that included our business name and logo on the back.
At every wedding we worked or networking event we attended, I collected the business card of every professional we spoke with, the maitre’d, photographer, florist, etc. I’d jot down some notes about the conversation we had on their card, if possible.
The next week, I’d send them a hand-written postcard with a personal note.
It was great working with you at the hotel last weekend. Thanks for sharing that story about the drunk bride. I’m still cracking up!
Hope to see you again soon,
Stephanie & Jeff”
Sending that simple postcard resulted in more referrals and more networking relationships over the years than I can possibly count.
Why does this work?
It includes two unforgettable elements:
1. An attractive photo of you.
2. A personal note relating to your conversation.
When you print your photo on a postcard people hang on to it for about 10x longer than an ordinary card because it feels “wrong” to throw out someone’s picture. In many cases, they’ll tack your postcard on their refrigerator and leave it there for months, getting a friendly reminder of you each time they grab a glass of orange juice.
When you take the time to add a personal note about your conversation, it makes people feel special. It’s also proof that you were actually listening and it makes you likeable.
People want to work with people they like, and it follows naturally that they will send you business.
The key is to keep doing it.
Sending one postcard doesn’t make it happen; it’s the repeated connections and postcards that turn into referrals and MONEY.
Cheap and Free Marketing
Small wedding businesses like ours need powerful cheap or free marketing strategies like these in our bag of marketing tricks.
Instead of spending money on expensive bridal advertising that might not work, focus on building strategic relationships with simple, personal strategies like these.
An ad only works as long as you pay for it. Spending the time on building a relationship with the right person can pay dividends for years.
What cheap and free marketing strategies are working for your wedding business? I’d love to read your comment!
Want more? Stephanie Padovani shares oodles of wedding business marketing tips like these at BookMoreBrides.com. You can also check out her Hudson Valley weddings site for New York brides at BestHudsonValleyWeddingEver.com.