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…
Your Ideal Couples – 3 Tips to Determine Market Size

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.

Are your goals SMART goals?

Are your goals SMART goals?

As I sit here beating myself up a little for not writing and sharing consistently over this past year, to be honest, I realized that part of it comes from having not been very specific about my goals regarding writing and blogging last year.  So, it makes perfect sense as I began to teach others about goal-setting and decision-making that it could affect so many things in my business.

Here is what I talked about regarding goals.  Have you heard about their need to be SMART?  Here’s what that is:

S – Specific – focused and well-defined, answers the 5 Ws
M – Measurable – where you want to go in terms of numbers – how much/many?
A – Attainable – within reach and realistic for you, your industry, and marketing conditions. Sometimes labeled as Action-Oriented.
R – Relevant – considers current business, challenges, and events that affect progress – make sure that it’s the right thing that you should be focusing on.
T – Time-Specific or Time-Sensitive or Time-Based – there is a deadline that allows for a sense of urgency.

What are your goals for 2016?  I’ll share some of mine here shortly.  In the meantime, I look forward to hearing some of your goals for 2016, and how you are breaking them down and attacking them!

What’s Your Current Business Challenge?

What’s Your Current Business Challenge?

“What’s Your Current Business Challenge?”  I just spent the past two days meeting so many great wedding planners and other wedding pros at the ABC National Conference, and this is what I was asking them to tell me in order to enter my contest.  And, as I added these to the white board in my booth, subsequent folks would look at the list and nod, nod, and nod some more.  It was both powerful and exciting to hear so many of the same challenges and issues from folks, as I already knew that so many of us have struggled with the same issues at some point in our business – and these are the very things I enjoy working with my clients the most.

Figuring out your ideal client.  Attracting more of the clients you love to you.  Quality events over quantity events.  More viable clients.  Getting more clients.  Yep, a large majority of the folks wrote variations of the same thing down.

Why it excites me to see this is that it means that so many folks already get it!  Working with the right kind of clients – whatever that is for you and your business – makes it better in all sorts of ways.  You have more fun working on those events and projects.  You probably have more success with them as they were your right fit from the start.  The clients are usually happier, leading to more raving reviews and more referrals (which leads to even more ideal clients…).  And, when it’s your own business, so you are doing it for the joy and happiness and satisfaction, along with the paycheck, that is even more powerful.

Can’t wait to see what some of these women (yep, almost all women with only a handful of men at this conference) do for their businesses from here!