Wedding RingQuestion:  I’m an established DJ and my rates reflect that. How do I answer couples who email asking only about price?

“Stephanie & Jeff:

I’m at a funky place in my business, and I was wondering what your take is on what’s going on.

I’m an established DJ / MC and have been in business for over 20 years.  In years past, it wasn’t hard to establish trusted communication with a couple when they first contacted me.  They’d be willing (eager, even) to have a conversation on the phone and often, from that, willing to meet to discuss things further.

Today, I’ll get an email from a couple simply asking for price.  Now, this has always been the case, but in the past they were willing to discuss services, expectations, etc.  Now, the comments are simply “Please send me your rates”, etc.

I’ll respond, and I really have a hard time with this.  I know that my rates are higher than what most people expect, so I’m afraid that if I just send my rates, then they’ll simply move on.  BUT – any attempt to explain what’s included, or push for a meeting is ignored.

I’ve been told to send them something like “My rates run from $600 up to $3000, with the most popular package being $2,700.”  However, at this point, they’ve given me their date and, assuming it’s a Saturday, there is no “range” – so stating that would be misleading.

What if we met and they said “Um – you said something about a $600 package?”  I’m a single operator, so there’s no option for another DJ.

I’ve seen your emails, and I even bought the ‘Book More Brides’ series last year sometime.  However, I’ll be honest, I’m a little skeptical.

I know – ‘Ignorance is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results,’ but I just don’t’ have time to chase after some mystical process that leads to a pot of gold.

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Blessings to you both.”

– Established DJ

Answer:  Take action to get them off the price question quickly.

“Hi, Established DJ.

This experience is all too common for wedding pros these days.  The low cost of entry and influx of competition driving prices down, combined with increased budget-consciousness of couples after the Recession, it’s a doozy.

Let’s address the different actions you can take to get them off the price question quickly.

Should I give a price or not?

We do recommend giving a starting price or REALISTIC price range when someone inquires by email, and then going for the meeting.

The reason we don’t recommend refusing to answer the question until they meet with you is because Jeff would never do business with someone who tried to pull that on him.

However, the key phrase in that sentence (which I conveniently typed in all caps) is realistic.  It’s probably not realistic to quote a $600 starting price for a wedding.  The couple is going to show up and feel lied to if the $600 doesn’t at least come close to covering the basics.

Is it reasonable to quote a $1,500 starting price for a wedding?  A $2,000 starting price?

The point in doing this is to answer the question (so that you’re not ignoring it) and reassure them that you’re not a million dollars, which is what most couples want.  The true small budget couples will be scared off at that point, which is good.

As far as it being unethical to give a price range when you know the date, I don’t see a problem as long as you’re giving a realistic starting price or range for a wedding and you add a phrase like, “depending on what you need.”

How do I get them to meet with me?

Next: what’s the goal of your email?  What’s the next action that gets them one step closer to booking you?

In your case, it’s the phone call.

The goal of your email response is to get them on the phone.

It’s not to sell the wedding or convince them that you’re super cool.  Just sell the phone call.

The easiest way to do this is with a direct question, expressed as a separate paragraph, which we explain in our Price Shopper Email Report.  You can even highlight it in bold text so it leaps out of the email.

Here it is:

I love to get to know my couples and find out if I’m a good match for their weddings.  So the next step would be a quick phone chat to find out if I’m a good fit for you.

Are you available tomorrow at 4pm for a quick phone chat?

Most wedding pros write something like, “If you’d like to meet, give me a call…” which is extremely non-specific and ineffective.

Asking a direct question requires an answer: yes, no, or “Okay, but at a different time.”

You’re telling them the natural next step (the phone call) and making it low pressure (to see if I’m a good match) rather than trying to go immediately for the meeting, which seems more threatening to someone who’s just discovered you.

Naming a specific time makes it easy for them to answer right away, and cuts out all that frustrating email back and forth.  If you don’t name a time, they’re forced to think about not just IF they want to chat, but WHEN, and it’s likely they won’t do anything.

I can tell you from personal experience that the template we use to respond to price inquiries works because it’s worked for us.  We also get weekly emails from wedding pros who are seeing immediate results with it.

It doesn’t work for everyone.  Usually when it’s not working it’s because they’re not using it exactly as it’s given or because there’s something else wrong—like a really ugly website, terrible grammar or nasty reviews floating around in cyberspace.

How do I send a response that REALLY stands out and communicates my value?

You need to stand out as different from the competition if you want to book weddings at a higher rate.  If the couple thinks you’re just the same as Joe DJ down the block, they’re going to go with whoever is cheaper.

Make your response to leads different by:

  • Expressing your personality.  Use humor, be friendly and personable.
  • Demonstrating your experience with their particular venue.  This positions you as an expert.
  • Send a personalized video response.

You’re right: doing the same thing and expecting different results IS crazy.  You need to change.

You’re skeptical and that’s good!  I suggest that you try out our Price Shopper template for a couple weeks and carefully track your response.

Then try different variations, again tracking your results, until you get the response you want.  Then you won’t be chasing a mythical pot of gold; you’ll have proof.

What do you think about couples who email asking about price?