Today's trend is to give short, easily digestible soundbites as answers, so you can quickly scroll onto the next post; however, the true answer to this question is not short and sexy, and you know it :). And if you resist the urge to flit away for the next seven minutes, you'll know exactly what to do to give your wedding business a 'workout', so it gets leaner, fitter and dare I say it, sexier!
It's not what you offer; it's how you offer it. The most effortless way to convert is to provide what your couple is looking for. For example, if your couple wants a secluded country barn as the backdrop for their wedding, no matter how stunning your 5-star city hotel is, it's unlikely you'll ever convert. Yes, they are both venues, but when you drill down to the specificities, the barn and the hotel could not be further apart. And no matter which category your wedding business falls into, DJ, photographer, room decor, or any of the many other supplier sectors out there, there are specificities in what you offer that will only appeal to particular brides and grooms.
So assuming your marketing is targeted and focuses on couples who want what you offer, your next step is to make yourself highly likeable. You'll do this best by getting inside your couples' head, joining in the conversation they are already having, and positioning yourself as their perfect solution. However, getting over those hurdles just gets you in the race, to pick up speed you'll need to know what to say to genuinely connect with your brides and grooms because the language you use to market and sell your offer is crucial to converting. Remember, It's not what you offer; it's how you offer it.
You and your closest competitors can present almost identical services, but it's the one who uses words that resonate best with the couple that will get booked. The most compelling way to articulate the right words is through IPA's (I'll explain what they are in a moment).
I began using IPA's around 2014, without realising what I was doing, I practically stumbled into them. They just seemed like a natural way to guide couples through their wedding experience at meetings, and back then, I thought every wedding professional marketed similarly! It was only after speaking to industry friends who were struggling to get booked that I realised not everybody did. They were basically telling couples about the benefits of their offer, quoting, often to get ghosted. So I broke down the IPA's to them to explain how they allowed me to convert 8 out of every 10 meetings into bookings. Even during this pandemic, I've booked couples every (month bar 1), since the first lockdown in March 2020, and it's not because of me - it's because of the IPA's, and they can get you booked too. Bookings are undeniably slower, but they are 100% still happening; and its because lovers are still falling in love, proposing and planning weddings up to 2023. If those brides and grooms are not booking you, it means they are booking someone else. Engagement season has just started and ends on St. Valentine's Day; it's the period when most couples begin their hunt for suppliers. If you want to win their business and get back in the game in 2021, make IPA's your priority. Yes, the virus presents a challenge for us all, but if you have the will, you can succeed.
So what are these IPA's? I'm glad you asked! It's an abbreviation for Influencers, Pipeline Installers and Anchors.
Here's the breakdown.
The 7 Influencers
I did not create the 7 Influencers; successful businesses have been using them for centuries; all I did was identify them and apply them to the wedding industry.
Think of your favourite high street brand - they use the 7 Influencers on you to motivate you to buy, that's why they've become your favourite company and why you are loyal to them. Your brides and grooms react favourably to the same Influencers. For example, one of the 7 Influencers is Reciprocity - the strong desire to give something back, but it's the effect that reciprocity has on the recipient that makes it such a powerful influencer. For example, imaging you hook-up with a friend for lunch, and they unexpectedly give you a gift... but you have nothing to give back! Ouch! How would you feel? Surprised? Grateful? I bet at a minimum you'd wished you had something to give back in return! That feeling triggers reciprocity, a paid forward memory that compels you to want to give something back to repay a previous act of kindness. Used at meetings, it can often contribute to you getting booked.
Reciprocity in action
One of my Australian students is a wedding photographer, and in a former life, she was a trained make-up artist. Because she's with the bride for most of the wedding, she keeps her clients looking flawless throughout the day by touching-up their make-up, long after the main artist has left. It's a free unexpected gift. Her brides are so grateful it triggers reciprocity. It's one of the reasons why she gets so many word of mouth referrals. In another example, at my meetings, despite not being a wedding coordinator or planner, I use my experience to prepare a detailed timeline for my couple, talking them through their day. They leave their meeting fizzing with excitement because they unexpectedly received a gift of information that filled a huge knowledge gap about the flow of their day. By giving them so much more than they expected to get out of our conversation, I'm able to trigger reciprocity within them, and when it comes down to selecting who to hire, reciprocity is a powerful and persuasive influencer that contributes to bookings. Reciprocity can work for you too if you think creatively about how you can use it to your benefit.
What surprise gift can you offer to your couples to trigger reciprocity? For it to work it must be i) unexpected, ii) of low monetary cost to you, iii) of high perceived value to your couple. For a full breakdown of all 7 Influencers, and a growth assignment to get you taking action on acquiring them, download your free training here: www.weddingmarketingmastery.co.uk/join
7 Pipeline Installers
Although the 7 Influencers provide the language for you to talk the talk - to walk the walk you'll also need the 7 Pipeline Installers; the unique differences you offer, that are exactly what your niche wants.
Pipeline Installers sit at the top of your marketing pyramid and represent the most desirable ways to get booked, they climax with venue recommendations, word of mouth referrals from planners, other suppliers and raving fans. They are the game-changers that compel other people to pump leads into your mobile or computer on autopilot while you do other things. How to create Pipeline Installers could not be mapped out effectively in a blog of this nature, it's way too deep a topic. But to scratch the surface, one of the Pipeline Installers, is to focus on your differentiators to other suppliers, not your similarities. By focusing on creating Pipeline Installers (highly desirable benefits) that your competitors find hard to replicate, is one of the 7 ways to get to the top. Get this right and couples will sometimes change the date of their wedding to have you. Has that ever happened to you? If it hasn't, it will when your 7 Pipeline Installers are in place. By way of example, a wedding singer I know created differentiators to his performance that were so desirable, outside of covid he is oversubscribed with UK and destination weddings multiple times. To help you find out how he separated himself from others, I interviewed him.
He began with a talent and passion for singing but treated it like a business, not a hobby. He focused on his marketing and sales skills more than anything else. Yes, talent is essential, but it is not the most important thing. He said some singers could outperform him under the table - but they struggled to get booked because they did not have Pipeline Installers in their arsenal.
He began singing in social clubs, pubs and restaurants for £150 - £300, but now performs at weddings for up to £2,500 plus expenses. His Pipeline Installers helped him develop industry contacts, forge relationships with planners, venues and one outstanding agent. Initially, he joined many agents but found the market oversaturated, resulting in agents not giving him much work - because they had too many mouths to feed. So he built a solid relationship, based on a circle of trust with just one agent, and that was instrumental to him becoming oversubscribed. In peak season he turns away up to 10 wedding enquiries on prime weekends of the wedding season due to existing bookings. Using Pipeline Installers, he built a brand based on his reputation. He dislikes quoting by email because they can lead to being price-shopped, so where possible, he moves enquirers to a meeting.
I cannot stress enough that creating differentiators is just one of the 7 essential Pipeline Installers you must create to be able to convert with ease. Don't worry about the 'how', I'll direct you through the brilliant click-to-edit free download - the link is at the end of this mini-training which is actually an extract from the Wedding Business Success Course.
The penultimate step to conversations that convert is to tie down your Pipeline Installers with Anchors. Anchors are the guides that help you make sound business decisions. They validate demand for the changes you'll have to make to make getting booked inevitable. Anchors allow you to confidently chase down your 7 Pipeline Installers knowing that your niche will love and book them. This is crucial because the last thing you'll want to do is to create a wedding business that brides and grooms do not value, need, nor buy.
Still here? Well done! You're the type of wedding professional I love to coach — a realist seeking solutions with depth. By now, you've gathered that there is not a fast fix to get booked, it's why I never gave you a short, sexy soundbite as an answer :). As the saying goes "The elevator to success is out of order. You'll have to use the stairs... one step at a time." ― Joe Girard.
Why follow me?
My name is Terry Lewis, and I'm not just a wedding marketeer; I'm first and foremost a wedding supplier, so I'm right here in the trenches with you seeking bookings as well. I'm using IPA's right now, so you'll be learning from someone who is getting results by practising what they teach.
2020 has been a challenging year, so if your New Years resolution is to make your comeback, IPA's will give you the best strategy to convert brides and grooms much easier. The IPA system will reduce ghosting AND inspire couples to change their view of you from "expensive" to "essential". Wait...Is that even possible?! Yes it is! The 'how' is in this free fantastic, super clear download: https://www.weddingmarketingmastery.co.uk/join
Image by www.johnnassari.co.uk