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Question: How can I book weddings without testimonials or photos of my events?

Dear Stephanie,

I have question for you. I am a wedding planner in Galveston Texas area and I start my business back in 2009 when it didn’t take off like I wanted to I left it alone until last year. In my area it’s hard to get someone with a nice budget to book my services because I don’t have any pictures of past of events or testimonials.

Most people in my area budgets are at a minimal amount, so they are always looking for the cheaper end of things. That is not how I see my business. No, I don’t what to be on the higher end where no one but celebrity’s can hire, but I don’t want to be on the lower end of things either to where I am trying to stretch what they have to try and make it look nice and leave that lasting WOW factor that captured that special moment.

Now that I am back trying to move forward with my business I am still having the hardest time trying to get weddings or events (birthdays, baby shower you name). I have done some low budget things here and there, but not anything that I am proud of. In your video and your emails you state to be head. Get recommendations the word of mouth referrals.

My question to you how do you get the word of mouth referrals if you can’t even get someone to book your service and your website does not have testimonials or even pictures of the events because I haven’t had any to planned/designed?

I have struggled with this in 2009 and still struggling. I love designing not only weddings but events too, but I cannot get anyone with a decent budget to book my services so I get all the things you are talking about. I am at ground zero here and the outlook is not looking promising.

I went to the classes I did the training and still I cannot get anyone to book my services. I don’t know what else to. I don’t know what’s really wrong so that I can fix it.

Any advise that you give or any suggest would be greatly appreciated. I want to make a stamp in this industry to where I can leave my current employment and do what I love on full time bases and still have more than enough to enjoy the fruits of my labor and life.

Thank you,

Answer: Chutzpah & Crafty Wedding Superhero Marketing

Hi, Kimberly!

As you’ve discovered, you can take classes, get multiple certifications and be an expert at what you do…and that’s doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get any work.

In addition to being good at what you do, you need to learn smart marketing if you want your business to succeed.

Your first mission: book those weddings!

Here’s what I suggest:

1) Do some market research to find the clients who are a good match for you.

You say the couples in your area, “are always looking for the cheaper end of things.” Every market has a higher end; you just need to find them and make your business irresistible to them.

Find out who your ideal client is and where they go for their events. What venues do they chose? Why style do they prefer for their weddings? What other businesses do they work with? What websites do they visit?

Once you know who they are and where they go, you can meet them there.

2) Price your service at average or just below average for your market when you’re starting out.

When you don’t have experience and client testimonials, it makes sense to keep your price reasonable. As your experience and reputation grows, you should raise your price.

Use the Wedding Report to find out how much the typical couple spends to hire a wedding planner in the Galveston area. This is also a reality check that will help you determine whether or not your market can support your financial goals.

3) Find a specialty and be different!

What type of event planning do you really want to do? Without a specialty, you don’t stand out and you end up competing on price.

What can you do that no one else is doing? What service can you offer that your ideal clients want that no one else offers?

This is the key to getting paid what you’re really worth.

“My question to you how do you get the word of mouth referrals if you can’t even get someone to book your service and your website does not have testimonials or even pictures of the events because I haven’t had any to planned/designed?”

Buy stock photos for your website until you have images of your own events. There is no shame in this! Everyone starts off with no experience and no portfolio.

Contact the photographer at every wedding you book and/or hire someone to take photos you can use for your portfolio. Don’t expect the event photographer to give you photos for free; if you pay them it shows you value their time and results in faster delivery. It also ensures that you get professional photos that showcase your talent.

As for gathering testimonials, turn to former employers and business people you’ve worked with for references. Ask them to write a paragraph about your professionalism, character and the experience they had working with you in the past.

Even though these people weren’t clients, their opinion counts as valuable social proof!

Go back to those people who hired you for “events you aren’t proud of” and ask them for a review or testimonial. Give them a small gift up front to thank them for their time. It’s worth spending $10 on a gift certificate to get testimonials that will help build your business.

Keep learning as much about marketing as you can from resources like this website, and put what you learn into action. That’s how you’ll get results and start booking events.

What suggestions do you have for someone just starting out?

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 photo credit: Fevi in Pictures via photopin cc