Is the customer – or in our case, the couple – always right?

Is the customer – or in our case, the couple – always right?

This year I am talking a lot about the customer journey, which starts the moment a couple finds your business, and how the journey you have them take not only affects whether a couple books you but how, if done right, the journey improves the couple’s entire experience with you and thus improves their overall impression of your business.   So, looking at the importance of a couple’s journey and the high level of personal service expected of wedding industry businesses, is a couple always right?
Well, I can say without hesitation, and I am sure you would probably agree, the customer is not always right.  However, in the wedding industry, when it comes to customer service and the couple’s journey, we have to make sure that the expectations of our ideal couples are going to be met, or exceeded, and our customer service goes above and beyond.   The nice thing is that if we do our job right by identifying our ideal couples, tailor our marketing to attract them, and then create a customer journey that is designed with our ideal customer in mind, our instances of the customer thinking they are right vs. them actually NOT being right should be very low.
For example, my ideal couples place a high importance on a fun, meaningful, and personal wedding ceremony.  My marketing is targeted to attract those couples, and the customer journey they take with me is designed to get me what I need to give them the ceremony they say they want.  As part of their customer journey, all my couples are given
homework, which includes a questionnaire that they each answer separately that helps me understand their relationship, how it formed, how they see it, and how they feel about each other.  Every couple I meet with is told, during the initial meeting, about the homework and explained how I will use it in the creation of the ceremony.  The couples that come to me, my ideal couples, should be up for it.  And, if they are not, they are probably not going to hire me (and I likely wouldn’t want to work with them either).  So, by knowing my ideal couples, tailoring my messaging to attract them, and creating a customer journey that meets or exceeds their expectations, I should have very few to no couples that hire me yet don’t want to do the homework.  And in the scenario where I have a couple who hires me but doesn’t do the homework – no matter how many times I explain the importance of it – I don’t consider them “right,” I just consider it not worth telling them they’re wrong, and I remind myself of how rarely that happens and just move on…
Just Say No to Money?  WTF?

Just Say No to Money? WTF?

One of the toughest things in business is to turn away money, yet, it is something that we as business owners need to be prepared to do, especially in such a personal business as weddings.  How many times have you left a meeting with a couple saying to yourself, that couple is whack (or something similar), yet you send the couple a contract and you let them book you?   To be honest, I have done it, and I will say that most of the time I do regret my decision.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that our businesses don’t run on fairy dust or even all perfect-for-us couples.  However, working with a couple that clearly doesn’t at all fit, just to put extra cash in the bank, can hurt you and your business more than help.  It comes back to two business concepts that we often discuss: 1) ideal client and 2) business passion.   When talking about the ideal client, there is the proven concept that if we focus our limited time working with our ideal clients, our expectations of the relationship and the reality of the relationship between us and the couple matches, and their expectations of the customer journey with us and the reality of the customer journey with us matches.  These matches produces a happier couple and a happier business owner.  And usually fantastic reviews and referrals too.

Speaking of happier business owner, most of us started our own passion-driven business because we either didn’t enjoy doing something else, or didn’t enjoy working for someone else, or a combination of both.  So, if we are going to work long hours and be completely responsible for our business, risk and all, shouldn’t we aim to work with as many of our ideal couples as possible?  I know, I know, not every couple will be all peaches and cream, even if they are our ideal couple, but the more couples we work with that we enjoy, the more positive we will be, and thus the more positive our business, and thus the more positive we will be, and so on…  It is a vicious cycle, but in a good way.

If you and your business need money, I understand not turning it away, but when you can turn it away, and you should turn it away, don’t fear saying no and don’t look back.

Just Say No to Money?  WTF?

Your Ideal Couples – 3 Tips to Determine Market Size

If you read my blog, have heard me or other wedding professionals speak, listen to small business guru podcasts, etc., there is no doubt that you have heard about the concept of the ideal client, or in our case, the ideal couple.   When moving your business from “all couples are your market” to focusing on attracting and working with your ideal couples, the most important step is to figure out who are your ideal couples are, and then the second most important step is to figure out if there are enough of your ideal couples to support the business success you want to achieve.

Business 101 says that if you have a great product or service, but nobody who will buy it, your business will most likely fail.  Yes, I know that there are businesses that have created their own markets, but for most of us in the wedding industry, we are doing something that is already being done by others.  We might be doing it in a different way or using a new technology, but we are not usually recreating the wheel.  Thus, making sure there are enough of your potential ideal couples out there to support the business success you envision is an important step.   Some tips I recommend you use to determine the size of your market are:

1) Use existing market research and surveys.  WeddingWire, The Knot, and other wedding industry leaders do yearly surveys on the wedding market that contain large amounts of helpful data.  How many weddings are in your market, average size of those weddings, average age of the couples, average budget spent, plus so much more… all data that is at your disposal.

2) Do your own market research and surveys.  Although not always possible or practical, creating your own questionnaire and getting it out to couples can prove helpful since you are getting information specific to what you want to know vs. trying to interpret other people’s data to get your answers.  This method is more in-depth since it requires an understanding of how to create and ask survey questions and the need to be able to get enough of a sample of returns to draw valid conclusions.  You can do this type of survey by creating a questionnaire and then buying a booth at a wedding show, buying a list, and/or surveying couples through others in the industry.

3) Actual testing.  If you have a decent-sized initial marketing budget and the time to build your business, you can start marketing to your ideal couples in the places that you think they are looking.  Obviously, this can be expensive if there isn’t enough of a market of your ideal couples to support your business.  However, it is the most direct way to find out, since you will either start to get enough business to validate that you can be successful with this set of ideal couples, or you don’t get enough and know you need to adjust.

Knowing that there is a market, and a large enough market, of your ideal couples to allow your business to reach the success you envision is a key step that you should not skip as you elevate your business.  If you have questions or need help determining your ideal couples and/or doing research on market size, please let me know and we can work together to figure it out.