We all start off brand new. No experience, no reputation, no referrals.
If you’ve got a new wedding business and don’t know where to start getting leads, here’s what to do:
1. Do your homework first.
Use The Wedding Report to find out the real stats about your local wedding market: how many weddings, the average price for your services, average wedding budget. This is vital information you’ll need to figure out what to charge and if there is enough demand in the market to support your new business in the first place.
Spend some time online in the bride local chat rooms of the Knot and visit the Top 100 Wedding Blogs. What are brides looking for in your service that they can’t find? Look for an unmet need you can meet.
Scope out your competitors online. You’ll need to be different to get business. If you can find a need in your market that isn’t being met, you’ll have an instant edge over your competitors.
2. Find a mentor.
The fastest way to get referrals, jump start your business and starting making money is to get a mentor behind you.
Use the Power Lunch strategy to pull this off, just like we did. Identify 5 respected wedding professionals in your local area. Ask friends for recommendations of super nice people because a personalized introduction is a great way to start the relationship. Someone who isn’t a direct competitor will be easiest, but don’t rule out someone who already does what you want to do, especially if you have a connection with them.
Call them up. Tell them that you admire their work (be sincere!) and that you’re just starting out. Ask if you can take them to lunch to get their advice and help for your business.
Not everyone will respond, but you’re just looking for one person to teach you their secrets, give you advice and eventually send you referrals.
3. Make friends in the wedding business. Lots of them!
Make it your goal to meet three new people at each networking meeting. Find a way you can help them and you’ll be come fast friends. It’s a quick way to get your first referrals.
4. Follow up with everyone you meet.
When you meet someone, especially if they work in the wedding industry, take their card. Jot down a note about your conversation on the back.
Send them an “Unforgettable Postcard” with a personal note mentioning your conversation. The Unforgettable Postcard has a friendly, smiling photo of you on the front and your business information and a blank space for a note on the back.
Send this postcard to everyone after each meeting. If you stay consistent, people will remember you and the referrals will start coming. It’s the best cheap marketing you can do!
5. Use your inexperience as an asset.
One of the trickiest questions to answer when you’re just starting out is, “How many weddings have you done?”
Eeek. You don’t want to lie, but who wants to be your very first wedding?
First, don’t tell them you haven’t done any weddings unless they ask. If they do ask, use your inexperience as an asset.
Explain any related experience and work references you have and then say, “We can offer you an extreme discount because we’re still building our portfolio. We’re just starting out, so we work even harder to make sure you’re happy!”
Practice your answer to this question until it’s smooth and natural. That way you can relax during your meetings.
6. Advertise at a bridal show.
A bridal show is the best place to meet brides and network with other vendors. You’ll be available for popular dates your competitors have already booked, so your investment will be paid for in no time.
Ask the wedding vendor friends you’ve made to recommend the best bridal show in the area. Do your research about how many brides attend, the information that’s provided afterward, and attend as a guest first so that you’ll know what to expect.
Arrive early for the show and bring munchies to share so that you can make friends with all the vendors. (This tip comes from Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting.) You’ll make tons of vendor friends if you bring along Dunkin Donuts munchkins or other goodies!
7. Spend your advertising bucks on Facebook.
Don’t spend your precious advertising dollars on expensive magazine or print advertising right away. You need flexible, easy to change advertising that will maximize your limited budget.
Facebook lets you target your audience down to their location, relationship status (you’ll want “engaged” or “in a relationship”) and even their likes and the Facebook groups they’re a member of.
You won’t pay unless they click on your ad and you can set a limit for your daily ad budget that’s comfortable for you. Ease of changing your ad and testing out different headlines and pictures makes Facebook the best beginner advertising investment.
8. Start a blog and write at least once a week.
Having a blog on your website is absolutely essential to capturing FREE “organic” search traffic, those are the people out there searching for someone like you who haven’t heard of you yet…which is pretty much everyone when you’re brand new.
Make sure you use the names of local cities, towns, regions and venues in your posts. This will help more people find you and you’ll see your traffic increase over time.
As a new wedding business, you bring passion and enthusiasm that the old timers just don’t have, and your clients will respond to it. Make friends, meet the brides, and your business will be off to a great start!