If you’re a wedding planner like I am, you know that we’re at that time of year again where it seems like every email, every piece of advertising, and every blog, is blaring at you about this one thing only – Engagement Season! And you don’t want to go broke and you want your business to be successful, so you’re supposed to buy all of their advertising, and book their wedding show booths, and buy their email blasts, or you won’t get any bookings and your business will just shrivel up and die – IF you don’t buy all their stuff. Right?
Well, don’t panic just yet. I don’t do bridal show booths, I’ve only ever advertised in one location, and I don’t buy email blasts – and my calendar is full, my income is significant, and I don’t freak out every “engagement season”. But I used to!
When I first started my planning business, I spent a ton of money decking out my bridal show booth and doing all of the normal things that you think you’re supposed to do with your wedding business. And I found that I ultimately came out even – I booked about as much business from those activities as I had in expenses from those same activities. That means that I could have Netflix and chilled with my husband all day every day and been at the same place in my business had I not done those things at all. I don’t know about you, but chill time with the husband beats begging at a bridal show any day!
So, why am I booked and you’re still trying to figure out how to get more business? It’s a ridiculously easy answer. Here’s the one thing that helped me make more money and book more of the client’s that I actually love working with –
I understand who my true ideal client is and I only market to them and them only.
It’s so very simple that my planning business only has 3 things – a business card, a website, and an ideal client. No brochures, no binders, no fancy DVD’s to hand out – nothing else. I could hand out these business cards to everyone I see. I could have thousands of potential clients go to my website. But the most important thing that I have in my planning business is an understanding of who my true ideal client is. Without this, the other two items would be worthless.
Here’s how my mindset (and my business) changed forever
I was having a bit of a hissy fit in the car one day, complaining (loudly and with colorful language) to my husband about a client that I wasn’t happy with. And then it reminded me of a similar client that I had several months prior that I was also not happy with. And I blurted out, “you know, he pulled the same crap with me and they’re both engineers”. And that’s when it hit us both – we should not book another client that’s an engineer. (For real, I don’t work well on a creative level with engineers.) But, beyond being an engineer, there were some other obvious similarities.
And it just went from there. We then started talking about our favorite clients and tried to find any similarities in these couples. There were a lot! So we decided to jot down all of the similarities that each of our ideal (and not ideal) clients had so we could seek out (or avoid) those people.
This was a huge turning point in our business. We first used this basic information to make changes to our website. We removed anything from the site that didn’t specifically speak to our ideal clients and we added other items that “spoke their language”. In everything that we did, we asked ourselves, “Would this speak directly to our ideal client?” If the answer was yes, it stayed. If the answer was no, it was discarded without a thought.
Then a scary thing happened. Our phone rang less – a lot less!
But then a really cool thing happened. When our phone rang, they booked us without any significant effort on our part. Most of the bookings didn’t even want to meet us in person first. They just booked us because they were already sold on us before they called. The call was merely confirmation that we were the right choice. And price objections became a non-issue.
Since that time, we’ve gone through several significant increases in price. And all the while, we continue to take less and less client each year. We now accept somewhere between 10 and 12 events a year and average $10K – $15K per event, on planning alone.
Understanding who my true ideal client is and marketing to only them has become a real passion for me these past few years. I’ve taught so many other people this method and have seen it turn struggling businesses into successful ventures. I now know this to be true – of all of the things you can do for your business (and yourself), the number one thing you must do first, is determine who your ideal client is. Before you do anything else. Before you build that website or design that brochure. You have to take some time to understand who you’re talking to.
I recently launched a course called Chosen, Understanding Your True Ideal Client, where I’ve broken down all of the steps, that I now teach others, to help them identify and understand who their true ideal client is. It then shows you how to take this information and use it in a meaningful way on your website, through your About Us and Q&A pages. Debbie, the awesome gal who runs Planner’s Lounge, asked us to share the information about this course with her readers and we’ve decided to offer it at a discounted rate of $297 ($100 off!) to anyone that purchases the program through this special link by December 18, 2015.
If you do nothing, other than making a list of all the shared attributes of your most (and least) favorite clients and use this info to hone in on your ideal client’s qualities, I know it can transform your business. It has for us and for a ton of other event planners and wedding pros that we’ve taught this method to. Because let’s face it – it may be December, but in our business, it’s always “engagement season”!
This is a guest post from Cheryl Bailey. Cheryl is one-half of Wedding Industry Rescue, and with her husband, Shea, they offer expert guidance for the wedding industry. She’s also a Luxury Wedding Planner from Austin, Texas, working with clients whose budgets are $100,000 and above. They travel the globe, speaking at industry events and sharing their knowledge of the luxury wedding market with wedding pros just like you.
The links in this post are affiliate links which mean Planner’s Lounge may receive a commission from your registration. Planner’s Lounge has taken this entire course and highly recommends it for wedding and event planners.