Wedding Planner Q&A – “How Do I Beat the Competition?”

 

How Wedding Planners Can Beat Competition

You’re going to face competition when you’re a wedding planner but it shouldn’t stop you from following your dream. To win clients, you’ll have to plan and run your business professionally and market it well.

Question

I have a dream of being a wedding planner but I know there would be a lot of competition. Would it be worth it for me to start a business? Could I really get brides to hire me instead of someone else?

Answer

If you’re noticing there are a lot of wedding planners in your area, it could mean that there’s a high demand for professionals who can help plan weddings. So, if you start out right, you can be very successful.

Here are 5 ways you can start your wedding planning business and thrive, even in the midst of heavy competition:

1) Find a desire or need you can fulfill

Read wedding magazines, websites and blogs and talk to newly married brides. Find out the services and products they needed or wanted during the wedding planning process that no one provided. Chances are good that many newly engaged brides need and want those very same things and would buy them from you, if you offered them.

If you can’t find something new to offer, find a service or product you can deliver in a different and better way than your competition. For example, many wedding planners offer to help choose a wedding menu. If you used to work for a caterer or planned menus for a venue, you can offer professional insight and expertise into planning a menu that most cannot. Promote the value of your expertise to stand out from your competition.

2) Don’t compete on price

When you’re a new wedding planner, you might feel that the only way you can compete is by offering the lowest prices. Don’t fall into this trap because if you do, you won’t be able to stay in business. Market the value of your unique expertise, services and products. Don’t compare your prices to another wedding planner’s and don’t let a bride do it either.

3) Aim at getting a few small clients, not just one high-end bride

There’s often a desire to start a new business off with a bang by trying to reach high-end brides with big budgets. But, unless you have had a lot of experience prior to starting your business and have a lot of high-end vendor contacts, it’s best to start small. It can be easier to be hired for consultations, “day of” coordination and full service wedding planning by brides with average budgets when you have a new business.

4) Build strong relationships with vendors

Get out and visit venues and meet caterers, florists, bridal consultants, cake designers, etc. Don’t just introduce yourself and ask for referrals. Instead, meet for coffee, build relationships and create your network of high quality, supportive vendors.

5) Be visible online

Set up a blog and share insights into wedding planning that you have gotten because of your work with brides. Use social media, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, to teach, entertain and inspire brides. Show them you’re an expert so they’ll want to hire you instead of your competition.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.

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5 Mistakes Wedding Planners Make with Brides

 

5 Mistakes Wedding Planners Make with Brides

As a new wedding planner, I’m sure you’re eager to attract brides and keep them happy when they’re your client. But it’s possible that some of the things that you think are helping you get and keep clients are actually hurting you. If you’re making any of the 5 mistakes below, it’s time to make some changes so you can attract more of the types of brides you want and become financially successful.

Mistake #1 – You’re not charging enough

If you’re like most new wedding planners, you’re charging low rates in an effort to attract lots of brides. Unfortunately, your low rates are probably only attracting brides who don’t place a high value on your services and want cheap prices. When you charge what your services are really worth, you’ll attract high-quality brides who value what you have to offer.

Mistake #2 – You’re letting brides decide how much you charge

If a bride pushes back when you quote your rates and gets you to offer a discount, you’re letting her choose how much you charge. Discounts can make it look like your services aren’t worth the price you’re charging. Instead, determine your rates and if she wants to negotiate, offer to include an additional small service for the same price, don’t automatically offer a discount.

Mistake #3 – You’re shy about asking brides to sign contracts

You and your brides need to be clear on the services you are providing and how much you will be paid for those services. This way there won’t be any disappointments or worse, disputes, during and after the wedding planning process. Work with an attorney to create a contract that you can use with your clients.

Mistake #4 – You’re available 24/7 for your brides

Of course, you want to be available for emergencies, especially right before the wedding day and on the wedding day itself. But, if you find yourself texting and talking to brides all hours of the day and night to discuss non-urgent requests or because they just want to chat, you haven’t set boundaries. You need some downtime to recharge, so unless you want to work around the clock and you’re being paid for 24/7 service, make it clear when you are and aren’t available.

Mistake #5 – You’re afraid to ask for payment

Whether you’re working for a family member, friend or a bride you just met, you need to make your payment schedule clear and not be afraid to ask for payment. At the very least, you need to be paid half when you start planning and the remaining fees before the wedding day. Some wedding planners request all of their money upfront. Write your payment schedule into your contract so there won’t be confusion about when money is due.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.

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Wedding Planner Q&A – “How Do I Write a Business Plan for My Wedding Planning Business?”

 

 Business Plan for Your Wedding Planning Business

Have you written a business plan for your wedding planning business? You might dread the thought of making a plan because you’d rather spend your time planning weddings. But, knowing what you want your business to look like now, and in the future, and planning how you can get there is important if you want to become a top wedding planner.

In my Q and A, I offer an easy, and hopefully, fairly painless, way to write a simple business plan.

Question

I am writing a business plan for my wedding planning business and I am having a little problem putting it together. Can you guide me?

Answer

If you’re writing a business plan to help you clarify your business goals and direction and are not planning to share it widely, it doesn’t need to be as formal as the intimidating business plan examples that you may have seen online.

Answering these 7 questions will help you create your plan and start a successful business:

1) Why do you want to have a wedding planning business?

Describe the passion that drove you to want to be a professional wedding planner.

2) What is your big vision for your business?

Maybe you hope someday to be a wedding planner for celebrities. Maybe you want to help the brides in your local area have their dream weddings. Maybe you see yourself traveling and planning destination weddings all over the world.

Whatever your vision is, write it down and describe it in detail. If you don’t know what you want and can’t envision it, you won’t be successful.

3) Who is your competition?

Venues, florists and caterers who have wedding coordinators on staff may be the competition in your area along with other wedding planning businesses. Check them out, see what they offer, who they target and how they promote their services. You don’t want to copy them, you want to learn from what they do.

4) What services will you offer and who will be the brides who will hire you?

Don’t just decide to offer high-end services to brides with large budgets. Do some research, determine a niche and find out the services they want, need and will pay for that your competition may not be offering.

5) What will your business look like?

Decide if you plan to work part-time or full time, and where you will work, at home or in a rented office. Note the number of hours a week you intend to work, the number of weddings you want to plan in a year and the number of assistants you plan to hire.

6) How much to do want to make?

Decide how much you will charge for your services (refer back to my blog post on how to determine your wedding planning rates if you need help) and how much you will earn per year.

7) What are you going to do to make your plan a reality?

Review the answers to your questions and write action steps for creating your successful wedding planning business.

Your plan can change as your business develops so don’t be afraid to write your current plan then make updates as your business grows.

If you’re trying to get a bank to give you a loan, your business plan will need to answer these questions and more. Talk to the loan manager about the type of format the bank requires. There are templates online and some excellent software that you can purchase to help you write a detailed plan. Also, local government offices often offer free classes for new business owners on topics such as obtaining a loan, marketing and bookkeeping. Do some research and see how you can take advantage of their free assistance.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.

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Wedding Planners – It’s Time to Review Your Goals

 

Review Your Goals for Your Wedding Planning Business

It’s June, half way through the year. It’s time to review your goals, the ones you set for your wedding planning business at the beginning of the year. Are you as successful as you wanted to be at this point in the year? If you continue doing the same thing you have been doing the last six months for the next six months, how successful will you be at the end of the year?

If you’re not where you want to be today, consider taking these 3 steps that could help you change your path for the better for the rest of the year:

1) Set new goals

If you’re not reaching your goals, it could be that they weren’t realistic. Any goal you set should be a stretch, but should also be achievable by the end of the year.

For example, don’t plan to book 25 weddings by December 31 if you’ve only been able to book one so far this year. Think about your niche, your experience, the success of your marketing methods and the time you have available each day to devote to your business, then set a realistic number.

2) Decide on one action you can take right away

Maybe you need to spend less time on social media and more time attending social, business and/or wedding association events to make more connections. Maybe you need take classes in floral design or catering so you can add knowledge or skills that will attract more brides. Maybe you have a wedding planner certificate program that you started and need to finish because the brides in your niche want certified planners. Maybe you need to take a good hard look at where you’ve been putting your marketing time and money and make some changes so you get better leads. Or, maybe you need to select a different niche because the brides you are currently targeting don’t want to pay you what you are worth.

Just pick one thing to start working on right away that will motivate you and get you moving in a positive direction.

3) Schedule a monthly appointment with yourself to evaluate your progress

Don’t wait until December to check-in again. Set a monthly recurring appointment with yourself to review your progress so you can make changes quickly, if your business isn’t going in the right direction, or continue doing more of the same things if it is.

Please don’t be frustrated and hard on yourself if your wedding planning business isn’t doing as well as you had hoped. Learn from any mistakes you’ve made and move on.

And if you want help to become a top wedding planner, sign in to get my ezine “Wedding Planner Tips.”

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Wedding Planner Q&A – “How Much Should I Charge for My Wedding Planning Services?”

 

Determine Rates for Your Wedding Planning Services

Are you having trouble deciding how much to charge for your wedding planning services?

Here are tips for determining your rates and avoiding the biggest mistake wedding planners make when deciding what to charge.

Question

I’m not really sure what to charge. Should I call other wedding planners, get their rates, and then base my rates off that?

Answer

There aren’t many wedding planners who would be willing to tell you how much they charge. And don’t even think about contacting them pretending to be a bride to find out their rates. It’s dishonest and, besides, most planners know when another wedding planner is calling.

You don’t decide your rates by just copying what others charge. You’re unique. The services you provide, your level of customer care, your work style, your skills and your experience planning weddings aren’t exactly the same as another wedding planner’s.

You also need to take into consideration the amount of time you put into planning a wedding. This is where many new, and even experienced, wedding planners make their biggest mistake. They don’t realize the amount of time they spend on all of the details of planning a wedding and don’t charge enough.

In order to determine your rates, you need to add up all of the time you spend working on a wedding. This includes phone calls, emails and meetings with the client and all the vendors involved, along with your drive-time to and from meetings. Then there are the hours spent running the rehearsal and, on the wedding day, all the time you spend working before, during and after the ceremony and reception. And, don’t forget to charge enough to cover the assistants you have working with you, even if they’re your friends and relatives.

You don’t need to be specific about the fact that you’re including things like drive-time in your fees but you may want to be specific about the number of face-to-face meetings you’ll include with your services. You can allow brides to pay additional fees if they want more time with you. Also, be sure you stipulate that last minute changes can mean an increase in charges. Changes not only increase the amount of time you spend, but your vendors may have rush charges and you don’t want to be the one who has to make up the difference if you quoted their rates in your contract.

Remember, you’re a professional businessperson who needs to have a profitable wedding planning business. If you don’t charge adequately for your time and costs, you may find that you’re earning a lot less than minimum wage and you won’t be able to stay in business as a wedding planner.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.

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Wedding Planners – Boost Facebook Engagement

 

How Wedding Planners Can Boost Facebook Engagement

As a wedding planner, do you need tips to help you attract more brides and boost Facebook engagement? I recently attended Facebook’s “Boost Your Business Women’s Day” event aimed at helping small business women use Facebook to market their businesses. I received some great tips that I have customized to help you increase your Facebook engagement.

What you need to know before you post

• What are your goals – Do you want to generate leads? To increase awareness of your wedding planning business? Or something else?

• Who is your bride? – Find out all you can about the clients you want

• What does your bride want to know about being a bride and planning her wedding?

• What action do you want readers to take? – Visit your website, meet you at a bridal show or something else?

What to post

• Topics relevant to your wedding planning business

• Wedding and wedding planning tips, trends and recommendations

• News about your business – services you’ve added, workshops you’re running, etc.

• Unique services you offer that other wedding planners in your area don’t

• Spotlights on former clients and how you helped them

• Spotlights on members of your team who havespecial skills that your brides need

How to post

• Write in the voice and style of your business

• Keep text short, sweet and simple

• Address the needs of the brides you want to attract

• Use photos that support your text

Learn more about your audience by visiting Page Insights on your Facebook Page.  You’ll find out the demographics of your readers, the times of day they’re online and which posts they liked the most. This information will help you develop content that will attract new fans and keep them loyal.

Remember that you not only have to have a great Facebook Page, you also have to get out and network in person to have a successful wedding planning business.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planner Q&A – “Why am I Having Trouble Attracting Brides?”

 

Why Wedding Planners May Have Trouble Attracting Brides

As a wedding planner, you can put in a lot of time, effort and money into your business but unless you’re working smart, you still may not attract the brides you want.

Here’s advice on how to attract brides and get them to hire you as their wedding planner.

Question

I have officially launched my event planning and interior decorating businesses but am having trouble landing some clients.

I’ve done telemarketing and am thinking about doing television advertisement. I am doing brochures and handing out flyers. I am setting up some photo shoots to create a professional portfolio for my event planning to showcase my creativity.

Is it wise to take pictures off the Internet to create my portfolio to cut down on costs? Or, should I continue with the photo shoots?

What am I doing wrong? Or what am I missing? I feel like there is something I am not doing and I don’t know what it is.

Answer

I see the similarities between event planning and interior design, both are very creative service businesses but I suggest you market and build one business at a time. The way you promote each business and the type of clients you need to attract are different. If you try to do both at the same time, your attention and energies will be divided and you’ll have trouble getting either one of them to do well.

To be successful as a wedding planner, you need to connect with potential clients on a personal level, this is what you’re missing.

If you’re just telemarketing, buying ads and handing out flyers, you appear to be mainly a salesperson. You don’t seem like an expert who can understand the problems people have when planning their weddings or other major events.

You need to determine the type of clients that you want, do some research and find out where you can meet them and the people who can refer you to them. It could be that you need to join some social and business networking groups, wedding and event planner associations, take classes at a fitness center or yoga or Pilates studio or regularly attend services at a place of worship, etc. Build relationships and let people get to know you, understand your expertise and feel that they can trust you. Then they will want to hire you and refer you to their friends.

You professional portfolio, whether online or off, needs to have photos of events you have planned. You can also have photos of designs for weddings and events that you create just for your portfolio, especially if you want to go into event design.

You don’t ever want to use photos off the Internet and imply that you did the work. It’s dishonest and a copyright infringement. Continue with photo shoots and start getting professional photos of your events as soon as you have clients.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planner Q&A – “What Do I Write in My Bio?”

 

Write a Great Wedding Planner Bio

Whenever a wedding planner writes to me and includes their social media account information in their signature, I always look at their bio. This gives me great insight, to not only who they are but also what information they think will interest brides and I notice that they often get it wrong.

In my Q&A today I offer tips for writing a bio that will help you attract brides.

Question

I am having a problem trying to figure out what to say in my bio for my social media accounts. Do you have any suggestions for a good bio?

Answer

I see many new wedding planners making the mistake of thinking their bio is all about telling potential clients everything about themselves and how much they love weddings. Actually, a wedding planner’s bio is a marketing piece written to get a bride, who may be visiting your website or social media site for the first time, interested in contacting and hiring you.

Here are 8 questions your bio should answer and tips that will help you give it a professional touch you need to have to attract more brides:

1) Who are you?

2) What do you do?

3) What are some examples of what you have done as a wedding planner?

4) Who do you help?

5) What are some wedding planning problems you have solved or can solve for your clients?

6) What degrees, certificates and awards have you received that are relevant to your work as a wedding planner?

7) What makes you unique?

8) What is your contact information?

Important Wedding Planner Bio Tips:

~ Put important information first – people don’t always read everything so you need to capture their attention in the first paragraph.

~ Keep it short – some social media sites have specific word counts so you might be limited as to what you can say. Even if you don’t have a limit, keep it short by providing a high-level overview of your background and experience that would make a great impression on a bride.

~ Don’t call attention to the fact that you’re a new wedding planner – and don’t talk about how you planned your own wedding and decided to become a wedding planner. A potential client wants to know about your work with other brides.

~ Include a photo of yourself – brides want to know what you look like so don’t just use your logo or a photo from an event on your website and your social media sites.

~ Edit before posting – share your bio with someone else before you post and/or read it aloud to make sure it makes sense and has relevant information.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planner Q&A – “My Business Has Slowed Down, What Do I Do?”

 

Wedding Planners - Attract Brides Again After a Slow Period

New wedding planners sometimes start their businesses because they’re in great demand with family and friends. But, after planning weddings of people they know, they can experience a slow period because they’ve been so busy working that they haven’t taken the time to figure out what they need to do to keep attracting brides.

The wedding planner who asked the question today is a good example of someone who is in this position and needs help getting business flowing again.

Question

I haven’t gotten any clients recently. I started out doing really well, I was surprised to get a few weddings right away, but it’s been months now since I’ve seen any interest in my services. I feel like a failure. Should I quit?

Answer

There will be highs and lows in your wedding planning business. It sounds like you may have recently started being a professional wedding planner so it’s too early to call yourself a failure and, I think, too soon to quit.

Here are 7 tips that can help you attract business again:

1) Take a look at who your brides have been

What ways were they similar to each other? What services did they purchase from you?

Use information about brides who have hired you to find and attract future clients.

2) Review what you were doing that attracted these brides to you

Were you socializing more with family and friends? Were you attending social and business networking events? Were you posting more, or differently, on your social media sites?

Just because you told people once about what you do and how well you do it, doesn’t mean they’ll remember. Stay in front of people you’ve met, both in person and online. This doesn’t mean giving sales pitches, it means talking about the benefits of your wedding planning services and showcasing your expertise online.

3) Do an audit on your website/blog and any printed marketing materials

Make sure you’re sharing the benefits of your services and have testimonials from your recent brides. Also, check that your website/blog is mobile friendly and fully optimized for search engines.

4) Reach out to former contacts

Former clients and wedding vendors you’ve working with may uncover some new opportunities so stay in touch with them.

5) Follow up with brides who have shown interest in your services in the past

Drop them an email or postcard or give them a call, remind them of the benefits of your services and find out if they’re ready to hire a wedding planner.

6) Get out and meet new people

Join a fitness class or gym, start attending church, volunteer, attend meetings of local business people or find wedding and event planner association meetings to attend. When you get out and build new relationships, you increase your chances of getting referrals.

7) Stay positive

I know this is easier said than done but if you start to feel or act desperate, begin to deeply discount all of your services and/or beg people for work, brides won’t hire you and no one will refer you. You need to act professional and confident to be able to attract business.

If being a wedding planner is your passion, hang in, keep promoting and marketing your services and do the work you need to do to live your dream.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planner Q&A “How Do I Write a Tagline for a Wedding Planning Business?”

 

Write a tagline for a wedding planning business

When you first become a wedding planner, creating a tagline for your new business probably isn’t at the top of your list of things to do. But a tagline is actually a great way for you to quickly tell potential clients who you are and what you do, especially if the name of your business doesn’t make it clear that you’re a wedding planner.

Here’s a question from a new wedding planner who is ready to write a great tagline.

Question

I started a wedding planning business and I need a tagline. How do I write one? Please guide me because I am new.

Answer

It’s a great idea to have a tagline, it can tell people about your business and your benefits and differentiate you from other wedding planners. A good one is short, catches the attention of potential clients and is memorable.

These 6 steps will help you create a great tagline:

1) List every word that you can think of that describes your business and the services you offer

Examples – plan, organize, design, consult, coordinate, help, etc.

2) List all the ways your services benefit your brides and grooms

Examples – save time, save money, relieve them of wedding planning stress, help them have the weddings they envision, etc.

3) List your unique abilities and services

What do you know how to do or what can you offer that makes you different from others who plan weddings or from couples trying to DIY?

Examples – you have a background as a florist and can help with wedding decor, you have a background in catering and can assist with menu selection, etc.

4) List the different names you would use to describe your clients

Examples – brides, grooms, couples, gay couples, black brides, Asian brides, Christian couples, etc.

5) Brainstorm

Using words from your lists, put together some taglines. You can also get ideas from websites of others in the wedding industry, but please don’t copy anyone else. Your tagline must be unique.

6) Test

Take your best taglines and ask friends for their opinions and suggestions. This will help you see if your tagline is simple, easy to understand, easy to say and makes it clear why a bride should hire you.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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