3 Things We Need To Teach Our Customers

April 27, 2009 at 6:00 am 4 comments

One of the greatest things about the wedding industry is the close relationships I’ve been able to build with fellow colleagues. At an industry mixer last week, I had the opportunity to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in a while and meet new vendors I’d heard about for years. I had a very meaningful discussion with Shannon Lassen of Sublime Events and Greg Lowder of Affairs to Remember – DJ Entertainment. My question to them was, “What do you think needs improvement within our industry?

Shannon and Greg both agreed that we, as wedding vendors, need to educate the consumer. We need to be better about setting standards within our industry and communicating those standards to the customer. There are misconceptions regarding services and products within our profession and we need to have a strong unified message that provides knowledge instead of confusion.

This week, we are going to focus on 3 things we, as an industry, can teach the customer in an effort to cultivate positive change in our industry:

  • The myth of the summer wedding and why wedding business doesn’t need to be seasonal.
  • How the customer can be better informed and what they should be looking for when they hire wedding professionals.
  • Why DIY doesn’t always work for the engaged couple, and how it can work

So let’s tackle that first item…

The myth of the summer wedding

Up here in Seattle, people get married for the most part in June, July, August and sometimes September. You may be familiar with the fact that it rains up here A LOT. But here’s the thing: I’m from California – land of SUNSHINE – and people get married during the exact same months.

The general sentiment for having summer weddings is that people want bright shiny sun on their wedding. But the truth is that in Seattle (like in many places in the world) you may have less chance of rain in the summer, but there is still a chance. And, in California you’ve got guaranteed sunshine in the summer, but chances are it will be blazing hot. Have you ever been to a wedding in Pasadena in August? I have – and it was REALLY hot. Thank god we were indoors! And, what beautiful indoor venues there are in this country!

The point is this: no matter where you are in the country, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll need a “rain contingent plan” or a “heat contingent plan”. So with this in mind, why do people continue to marry in 3-4 months of the year?

How can we encourage and educate people that weddings can happen any time of the year? How can we get away from the seasonality of our industry? How can we streamline our business into more year-round revenue generation? These are some thoughts on how to do that:

  • Shift the mindset away from words like “off-season” and away from the idea that anything other than summer is “less than superior”. The perspective begins from within the industry. If we perceive these months to be prime months to marry, the customer will also. If we market it that way, the customer will follow.
  • Continue to push media to report on AWESOME fall and winter weddings. There has been improvement within print and web journalism in the last few years to highlight the beauty of these seasons’ weddings. As an industry, we can continue to feed them great content. Talk about your fall and winter weddings as much as you do your summer ones.
  • Incentivize engaged couples to marry in October-April. I’m not a big fan of offering unnecessary discounts to people. I think it is a more wise business practice to offer a bonus or an “extra” as a sales incentive.  For example, a photographer shooting in fall or winter could provide an extra hour or two of services.
  • Point out the obvious: there is much greater access to prime vendors during the October-May months. Engaged couples who marry between June-September are competing with gazillions of other couples for the same vendors.  They are often disappointed that these professionals are already booked on their wedding date.  The demand for vendors far outweighs the supply in summer months.  Why not have better access to a wider range of vendors?
  • It’s less expensive (for everyone).  In this economy, money talks.  Remind your clients that some vendors offer incentives for marrying in fall and winter months.  Also, guests traveling great distances to the wedding will not be faced with high-season travel costs.  This is especially gratifying to wedding guests who seem to find themselves on the wedding circuit in the 2-3 years when all their friends are getting married at the same time.

Our industry doesn’t need to be so seasonal.  The customer should know that many of the decisions that go into finding a venue for a June wedding are very similar to those of a November wedding. Changing this mindset begins from within the industry.

Tomorrow… we’ll talk about how we can educate engaged couples to make smart decisions when hiring wedding professionals.

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Entry filed under: Client Tips, Market It, Sales, Trends.

Insider to Insider: Michelle Loretta, Owner of mmm… paper How to teach our customers to hire the best and the brightest (part 2 of 3)

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Heather van Breda  |  April 27, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    So true! Especially for Northwest weddings: pin-pointing the 4 weekends for best-chance-for-sun is not an easy task. But I am particularly in favor of the value-add vs. discount methods. Getting more for your money is a better deal than a discounted service.

    Reply
  • 2. Sandra :: Event Girl  |  April 28, 2009 at 11:04 am

    You took the words right out of my mouth! The ingrained seasonality of the wedding industry creates such unnecessary panic among couples + vendors. We all want to provide superior services + products, and a year round basis is definitely needed to sustain a business.
    And I love the value added vs. discount as well – great incentive for a fabulous Fall or Winter Wedding!

    Reply
  • 3. cuttingedgedjs  |  May 17, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Thank you for bringing this blog post to my attention. These are some really great points, particularly the ‘off season’ stuff. I am the owner of a disc jocket company, and we really have no ‘off season.’

    In addition, being that my DJs are all college grads (everything from teachers to physical therapists) Fridays aren’t ‘discount days’ either. As a matter of fact, Fridays are more difficult due to my staff’s regular-job work schedules.

    Once again, great blog.

    Reply
    • 4. Michelle Loretta  |  May 18, 2009 at 7:02 am

      Thanks so much for your comment, Craig! I think a huge challenge for wedding industry people is to find ways to diversify their products/services into other industries so that it is not so seasonal. I’ll have to follow up with you for your advice on this. 🙂

      Reply

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