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Wedding business networking – Live!

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

Stephanie Padovani“When my husband Jeff and I started our wedding entertainment business, we had little more than an idea and a dream of breaking out of the corporate world.

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.

“Jim,

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.

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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11 COMMENTS
  • Stephanie Staub
    9 years ago

    Hi Stephanie!

    thank you for this very useful and friendly post!! This is great and very helpful!

    xx

    Stephanie

  • Thanks, Stephanie!

    After reading my piece, Claire made an excellent point I hadn’t considered. In a world where “networking” seems to mean Facebook and Twitter, she said it was refreshing to get back to the basics of connecting in person.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m a HUGE fan of internet marketing and social media. Online marketing allows you to scale your marketing activities and reach more people than would ever be possible with in person meetings alone.

    But nothing is as powerful as meeting face to face. And when you’re a wedding professional on a budget, it’s a cheap and easy way to get results immediately.

  • Bogdan
    9 years ago

    Face to face is always better. I find internet networking a bit… shall we say… non-comittal? People on the net act sometime like no one’s watching. Besides, would you recommend some guy you met on the “net” to your clients or rather someone you worked with and you trust implicitly?
    Just my two cents…
    Best regards,
    Bogdan

  • TJ McDowell
    9 years ago

    I’m guessing you’ve read the book Guerilla Marketing because you guys are guerilla marketing geniuses! If you guys weren’t in New York, I’d hook you up with some referrals here in the midwest =) You’ve actually hit upon what I saw in one website as the magical words of PR – take them to lunch. Many successful PR firms have used that secret to build great businesses for themselves.

  • Catherine Silvas
    9 years ago

    Thank you for sharing, I believe that meeting someone face to face validates a person. You send emails, make calls but who is the person really? To meet over lunch in a relax business setting, followed by a picture postcard is priceless. I agree no one wants to throw away a picture it’s more in the details, more genuine than a typical postcard.
    I also loved your comments on talking to people you meet getting business cards and taking notes about the conversation you had with them. People like to be remember it sets you apart from others they meet. I am a people person I talk to everyone, talking to people is one thing but making them feel important is another. I got my first WP Contract by talking to my bank teller, whom I didn’t know. I have been in sales for 26 years, and I always trained my employees not to be a Cherry Picker. Soon as you try to analyze people based on if you think they are not interested because of ? That could have been the client that could have opened more doors for you. I just be myself warm and sincere, I feel they might not need a WP now, but there always next month, next year, or they may know someone who might? I plant the seed it may grow or not, who know it may surprise me someday when I least expect it!

  • Meeta
    8 years ago

    Your comments were very helpful and I will surely try and follow them. I used to drop in a postcard to my friends and why not try it with your prospective vendors and clients.

    I loved the part about remembering what people you met spoke about so that it makes them feel special. That is so true. They always like that added attention. Even if this does not generate business, at least it will be a start for keeping in touch with them and making them feel good. I will also feel good about dropping someone that matters a special note! Thanks so much!

  • Kwanza Clay Bowe
    8 years ago

    Dear Stephanie,
    Great article! Thanks for the post card tip…I really love this and plan to do this right away!! I am wondering, however, if I should do one combined post card for our beach bar/venue and my destination wedding company with my husband and I’s photo on it and logos of the 2 businesses? He doesn’t really do anything with the weddings but my new wedding studio will be located on site at the beach boutique. As you see, I am trying to cut down on the need for 2 sets of post cards. What do you think?

    Thanks again & Cheers!
    Kwanza Clay Bowe
    The Exuma Destination Wedding Expert™

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