The Number 1 way to sell more weddings

Show notes:

Today I’m talking all about why word of mouth marketing is THE most cost effective and successful way to promote your business.

I’m sharing why it matters, what you should be paying attention to and 5 actionable tips that you can implement into your wedding business today.

Word of Mouth marketing is the number 1 way to sell more weddings – so don’t neglect it!

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Time stamps:

The power of word-of-mouth marketing [00:00:00] Explanation of the effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing and its impact on consumer trust.

Exemplary customer service [00:03:05] Importance of providing exceptional customer service to generate positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

The role of reviews and testimonials [00:07:46] Discussion on the significance of online reviews and testimonials in building trust and attracting potential customers.

Building Trust with Testimonials [00:09:57] Using testimonials in various ways to enhance marketing and build trust with potential clients.

The Power of In-Person Networking [00:13:02] The importance of attending in-person events and networking nights to build relationships and connections within the wedding industry.

Building Meaningful Relationships [00:16:31] How to build meaningful relationships with wedding professionals and venues in order to be recommended and receive referrals.

Building Meaningful Relationships [00:19:15] Tips on how to build meaningful relationships in the wedding industry, including giving more than taking and keeping in touch.

Tracking Results [00:21:04] The importance of tracking where inquiries are coming from and how to use that information to improve word-of-mouth marketing strategies.

The Power of Word-of-Mouth Advertising [00:22:52] Understanding the impact of word-of-mouth advertising, expressing gratitude to those who recommend your services, and the long-term benefits of building meaningful relationships.

Transcript:

Becca: Word of mouth marketing is not only the lowest cost form of advertising, but it’s also the most likely to succeed. And that’s why I’m a huge fan of recommendations. Word of mouth marketing. We know that it works, but how do we actually achieve it? Often clients come to me asking, how do I get my business in front of more people?

How do I get known by more wedding planners, more venues, more wedding pros? Well, in today’s episode, I’m going to share my answers with you. I’m Becca Pountney, wedding business marketing expert, speaker and blogger, and you’re listening to the wedding pros who are ready to grow podcast. I’m here to share with you actionable tips, strategies, and real life examples to help you take your wedding business to the next level.

If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business, doing what you love, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get going with today’s episode. Word of mouth marketing is powerful, but what does it actually mean? In its simplest form, it’s when a friend or a family member of yours recommends a product or service to you.

Now, in a recent study, Nielsen reported that 92%, yes, 92 percent of consumers believe the suggestions from their friends and family over traditional forms of advertising. Can you see how powerful this is? You know, in real life, it’s why I’m using the same builder as my friend did, because my friend had an extension, she had a really successful job, it worked well, it was good cost, and so she told me when I was getting my extension to check out the same builder, and I did.

It’s also why my whole friendship group has now ended up using the same cleaner, because one person had a great experience, told our friends, and then Everyone else decided to book the same person. It’s also why you can go ahead and photograph one wedding or bake a cake for one wedding and then over the following few years end up photographing or making cakes for all of the bridesmaids weddings too.

Word of mouth advertising Powerful people need to build up trust, and when their friends and family make recommendations, they trust them above everything else. Now, when couples are planning their wedding, they have one shot to get it right. They’ve got one day and they want it to be perfect. So they really need to know that they can trust you.

And if your business has been personally recommended to them, they’re much more likely to go ahead and book, which is what we all want, right? So in today’s episode, I want to chat with you about how we can improve your word of mouth marketing. So I’m going to share five different ways that you can get going with this and you can start with it today.

And the great news is it doesn’t have to cost loads of money. As I said at the start, word of mouth advertising is one of the lowest cost forms of advertising because other people are talking about you, talking about your business, recommending your business, and that doesn’t need to cost you a thing. So what are five things we should be doing in our wedding businesses right now to improve our word of mouth marketing?

Well, the first one is to offer exemplary customer service. Good news travels fast, but so does bad news. And we’ve All been in this situation. So we go to a restaurant for dinner. We have an amazing experience. The service is good. The food is amazing. The price is fair. Maybe there’s something really exciting and different about the restaurant.

And then on Monday morning, we go into work or we see friends and family and we tell them how amazing it was and how they absolutely need to go and book and try it out for themselves. But now think for a moment that we have the opposite experience. We go out for dinner, their service is slow, maybe there’s something wrong with the food, maybe it’s undercooked, maybe the staff are really rude to us, maybe it just takes so long, the bill’s wrong, or the bill’s really expensive, they add on loads of service charges that you’re not expecting, and you just think, this was an awful night, and I don’t want to go here ever again.

Well, once again, we’re going to go into work on Monday morning. We’re going to see our friends or family as well. And we’re going to tell them about our terrible experience. We love to grumble, don’t we, as human beings. We love to talk about the drama of the weekend. And all of a sudden we’re telling everyone, do not go to this restaurant.

Can you see why exemplary customer service is so important to your business? If you treat people well and they have a great experience, they will talk about you in a positive way to their friends, to their families, to their work colleagues, and that is what will lead to future bookings. So practically, how can we do this then?

Well, number one, we need to make sure we’re going above and beyond for every couple. Whether they’re the nicest couple in the universe, whether they’re the most difficult couple you’ve ever worked with, or an absolute pain behind the scenes, we still need to treat them the same. We need to go above and beyond for everyone.

Often it’s the little details, the quick communication, the kind words, the diffusing a difficult situation, solving a problem for them, thinking about something before they thought of going that extra step on the wedding day, or Providing something extra that really makes a difference to that couple. Not only do we want to go above and beyond, but even better is when we can exceed people’s expectations.

If you have had an experience where your expectations have been exceeded, perhaps you’ve booked into a hotel, got to the reception and they’ve offered you an upgrade, or you go to your hotel room and they’ve left a little card or a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine in there. Just. Because, perhaps you remember, and this is the however many times you’ve been back, maybe it’s just random.

But when your expectations are exceeded, you talk about that even more. You’re not going to believe it. I went to this hotel on Saturday and not only did I have my room, but I also got XYZ. If you can exceed the expectations of your couples, this is great for exemplary customer service and great for them talking about you.

So for example, if you state that you’ll get their wedding photos back within six weeks, but you managed to turn them around in four, well, that’s exceeding their expectations in a really positive way. And the third thing we can do to try and help this along the way is why not talk to your current couples and offer them some kind of referral gift if they recommend you on to their friends.

We know in the wedding industry that quite often in a friendship group, everyone gets married within the same few years. I went through a lot of years in my late twenties, early thirties when I was going to weddings All of the time, every one of my friends was getting married. You know, one year I went to eight weddings in about nine months and everyone was getting married at the same time.

But now I’m in my late thirties, not so many people are getting married anymore. So when couples get married, often a lot of people in their network are going to be getting married coming up soon. So why not consider. offering some kind of thank you to your couples if they do go ahead and refer you. I wouldn’t suggest a discount because we don’t want to be discounting, but what happens if you just say to them, you know, if you recommend me to anyone else, let me know and I’ll send you a bottle of Prosecco to say thanks.

Just the little extra touch to just give them that little push that they might need to keep referring you. But you got to see it through. And sometimes you might not even realize. So if you have a couple comes to you and they say, oh, we’ve booked you because Vanessa and Steve, who got married last week, said that you were the best and they had to book you.

Even if you didn’t hear from Vanessa and Steve. that they were referred a friend on, still go back to Vanessa and Steve and thank them. At the very least, send them a thank you email. Even better, send them some kind of gift to say thank you, because those recommendations mean the world to you and will make the biggest difference in your business.

So, that’s it. Tip number one, make sure you are having exemplary customer service to each and every couple you work with at all times. Okay, the second tip is to make sure you’re having a real big focus on reviews and testimonials. Now you might be thinking, Becca, why are you talking about reviews and testimonials?

In a conversation about word of mouth advertising. Well, here’s why in a bright local consumer review survey, they found that 88 percent of people said they also trust online reviews written by other consumers, which means that people trust the online reviews most as much as they trust their friends and family’s recommendations.

I’m sure we’ve all done it. We’ve booked a hotel room or looked at hotel room, maybe looked at somewhere to go on holiday, maybe looked at a product and. immediately gone down to the reviews to read about it on Amazon or something like that. If something seems really cheap, perhaps you scroll down to the reviews and see what other consumers are saying about it.

And often we trust what they’re saying. So if loads of people are saying it’s flimsy, it’s easily broken, it’s no good, it puts us off and we don’t want to go and buy it. On the other hand, if everyone’s saying this is really great value, it works really well, definitely recommend it, then it makes us much more likely to purchase it.

Reviews and testimonials do also work in a similar way to word of mouth advertising, because if you’ve got loads of people saying how amazing you are to work with, how great your work is, and saying really great things about you, that’s really good social proof to other people who might want to book you in the future.

So how do we have a focus on getting reviews and testimonials? Well, the first thing is ask for reviews quickly. We know that the moment a couple gets married is when they’re at their absolute happiness about the day and everything’s amazing. And then they go on honeymoon and then real life sets in. So if you want a really great positive review, the sooner you ask for it.

The better. If you ask for reviews quickly, they’re much more likely to be glowing and positive. Now, I know this is difficult. Couples get busy, but maybe set this as an expectation right at the start before the wedding day. Tell them, you know, the day after your wedding day, I’m going to drop this link to you to leave me a Google review.

It makes all the difference in my business. Please, can you look out for it and do it and set that expectation before the event. Once you’ve got some reviews. Then you need to make sure you’re sharing them everywhere. Don’t just leave them sat on your Facebook page or your Google page where they may be originally, but put them everywhere because they are powerful.

So put them all over your Instagram grid, for example, turn them into graphics and post them. Put them on your website throughout the text on your website, add them into emails, maybe in the footer of your email, include a testimonial. If you’ve got a sales page, add a testimonial because those words really do matter.

They’re powerful marketing. So if you have got some great testimonials, make sure you’re using them and reusing them everywhere, all over the internet. And the other thing is it doesn’t have to just be a Facebook or a Google Review that counts as a review. So screenshots, photos, or videos can also be your friend.

So screenshots. If a couple has sent you a text or a WhatsApp saying something like, wow, this day was amazing, I loved it. Or they’ve just received their photos and they loved them, and they send you a quick message, screenshot it, save it in your phone under an album, saying kind words or testimonials.

Just reply to them and say, are you happy for me to use this as a testimonial? And normally they will be, and then you can use those words because they’ve said them just because they haven’t put them on Facebook or Google doesn’t mean they’re not a testimonial. So use the screenshot feature and save it on your phone to an album called Testimonials.

Same if you get a handwritten card. Take a photo of it. If someone writes you a note, sends you a postcard, sends you a thank you card after the event, take a photo of it, put it on your social media, save it to that folder in your phone that you can go back to. Because again, they’ve left you that testimonial.

Just because it’s not on Google or even Facebook doesn’t mean it’s not a testimonial. And if you’re feeling really brave, some of the best testimonials I see are videos taken on On the night of the wedding. Now, this isn’t suitable for every single one of you. It depends on what you do and whether you’re around or not.

But if you’ve built a really good relationship with the couple, sometimes they almost become like friends. And if they’re in a great mood, grab them for 30 seconds, pull them to one side and say, are you happy to just answer a question for me? And then you can just record a really quick video saying so Vanessa and Steve, tell me, what did you think of your wedding cake?

Or what do you think of the DJ tonight? Or whatever it is and get them to leave it there and then when they’re on an absolute high. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but I’ve seen some people who are there at the end of the night, collecting equipment or there throughout the wedding day. Operate this really successfully and there’s nothing more trustworthy than people actually speaking on video because you know it really is them.

So that’s point number two, make sure you’re getting reviews and testimonials, ask for them fast, use them everywhere and remember it really helps to build trust with future clients. Okay, the third thing that I think is really important to build this word of mouth advertising is in person networking. If you want to build relationships with people faster, then you need to do it in person.

I love the online world. I love how easy it makes it for us to connect across the country, across the world with people. We can make some really good online friendships. But I also think if you meet someone in real life, it supercharges that relationship to a whole other level. If you’re meeting people in person, then you get to know them and understand them really, really fast.

It’s why going to an in person networking night Can be really powerful for building other industry connections or meeting up with venue owners and building a relationship with them. It’s why when people come on our wedding business retreat, those relationships are built incredibly fast because trust me, when you spend three days away in a luxury hotel with other wedding business owners and wedding venues, you really get to know those people and you build deep relationships where you want to help each other grow and.

Build your businesses together going into the future. So if you’re not already, I highly recommend that you try and get along to some in person events in the wedding industry every year. Whether that’s a conference, whether that’s a formal networking night, whether that’s a party, whatever it is that you’ve got going on in your area, try and get along to it.

And value that. I think sometimes we forget that those events are so valuable and they are worth traveling for. People say to me, Oh, but nothing’s happening in my area. The nearest thing’s an hour away. Well, I want to say to you, it’s probably worth driving an hour to go to something like that, to build those relationships, probably more valuable than spending an hour on blogging or social media posts, because you can achieve so much in that time, building relationships fast.

You need to invest in being in the right rooms. So if there are certain types of people you want to be networking with, so if you’ve said to me, I want to get to know some of the big wedding planners, I want to understand how to work with people at the top of their game, I want to network more with venues, well work out where they’re going to be and how you can be in the same rooms as them.

Maybe they’re putting on a wedding show at their venue and you could go along to it and be in the same room. Maybe you know that they all go to a certain kind of networking event or a retreat and you could go to it as well. Maybe, you know, they’re going to be. Speaking at a conference and it would be a good way to get in front of them.

Sometimes you will have to invest a little bit of money in a ticket to go to one of these things. Sometimes there’ll be free, but it’s a worthwhile business investment to be in the right rooms with the people that you want to be connecting with. So people say to me, I want to connect with wedding planners.

I want to connect with pros. I want to connect with venues. I’m going to say to you, get in the room where they are, because that’s the best way to build a meaningful relationship with them. Okay. So once you’re in those rooms, what now? Well, the first thing is you need to be thinking about them rather than yourself.

And we’re going to talk a bit more about this in point four, but I recommend that you go in with an attitude of being really helpful. So help people out, see what you could do to help them. Can you answer their questions? Can you help them with where they’re at in their business or offer some advice? Be vulnerable.

So be honest. No one wants to go into a networking room and meet you when you’re pretending everything’s amazing and you’re selling a million weddings and, you know, you just don’t come across as very approachable. So be a little bit vulnerable. Talk about the things that you’re finding difficult or the things that you need help with and have that attitude of thinking right.

What could I do for them? Why would they want to speak to me? They’re not going to want to speak to me because I’m going to go up to them and say, Hey, I’m Becca and I have a wedding dress business and you should promote it. That’s not a, not a conversation starter. So you should turn that around and think, why would they want to talk to me?

What could I offer them? What could I talk to them about? What could I ask them? That’s going to be meaningful for them. Which brings me on to point number four, which is not only do we need to be in person networking with other wedding pros and venues and planners, we need to build meaningful.

relationships. So if you want to be recommended by these people, it will happen naturally when you’ve built a relationship with them. So for example, if my sister is looking for a florist, well, I’ve got loads of florists that I know of online, but then there’s a smaller number of florists that I’ve met in person.

Maybe they’ve worked with me. Maybe they’re in my membership. Maybe we’ve had a couple of trips out together. Maybe they’ve been on my retreat and I’ve really built a relationship with them. Well, I’m naturally going to recommend those people. Because I want them to do well in their business. We’ve worked together.

I want it to be successful for them. And so therefore, I’m going to give that recommendation. So you need to build a meaningful relationship. So in order to do that, that doesn’t mean you just randomly reach out to people on Instagram and to wedding planners and say, hi, this is me, this is my business because they’ll just ignore it.

Instead, I want you to think differently. I want you to think how you can give, not take. Because let’s be honest, the reason you’re saying to me you want to get to know these venues and get to know these planners and get to know these pros is because you want them to recommend you. You’re thinking this is a quick way to get some money.

If those planners start sending me these high end clients, I’m going to do really well in my business. And the whole thought process is, if we’re honest, a little bit self absorbed. So… If that’s where we’re at and we’re being totally honest, we need to flip that script and we need to start thinking differently and think, okay, I want to build relationships with these people.

What can I do for them? Okay. Here’s an example that I shared with a one to one client just yesterday. Which of these is most likely to get a response. Number one, you reach out to the planner and you say, Hi, I’m Becca. I’m a photographer and I’m based down the road from you. And here’s my brochure. This is how much I cost.

If you’ve got any clients that want me, then here’s an information. I’d love to work with you. That’s option one. Option two is you reach out to the same planner and you say, Hey X, great to chat with you. I absolutely love your work. I’ve noticed that you’re based just down the road from me. What a small world.

I’m putting together some Instagram clips. For my Instagram stories about my favorite wedding pros in the local area. And I’d absolutely love to feature you. Would you be happy for me to share one of your images? And if not, then I would love to give you a shout out. Hopefully it’ll promote you to my audience and help you with your business.

Which one of those messages is that planner most likely to respond to? The one where you’re trying to take or the one where you’re trying to give? Now inevitably what happens down the line is if they come back and they say yes and they’re really happy that you want to promote them and that you think they’re great, then you start having a bit more conversation and guess what they want to understand more about you and they want to give you something in return because you’ve helped them.

So they’re much more likely to recommend you to their couples in the future. So I want you to change the script and think, what can I do for you rather than what can they do for me? And I want you to give more than you take. What can you give? What information can you give? Instead of always trying to take and get, get, get stuff, what can you give?

Be overly generous, help them out. So for example, if you want to work with more venues, what can you give that venue? Could you go down to the venue and take photos of their… Upcoming open day free of charge. Could you offer to provide cakes for the next staff meeting? Could you offer to provide some stationary sets next time they have a showcase so that they can put them on the tables to make it look more realistic?

What can you give instead of take? And the third part of building meaningful relationships is then keeping in touch. Now, this doesn’t have to be particularly formalized, but if you are trying to build relationships, you’ve met people in person, keep up to date on their social media, like their posts, comment, reply to the occasional story, ask how they’re doing, see how they are.

If they told you something that’s going on in their life, ask them about it. The next time you see them, or the next time you see them pop up on Instagram. If you meet people in. person or you start to build working relationships with people, you want to keep in touch. You want to stay top of mind because otherwise someone else will come along and build a relationship with them and they might forget about you.

If you want to be better at word of mouth marketing, building meaningful relationships is incredibly important. So flip that script. What can I do for you? How can you give not take? And how can you make sure you’re keeping in touch and showing up in their world regularly? It’s also a little bit about being brave.

So many of us are scared to reach out to people because we’re worried that we’ll be rejected or they’ll ignore us or they won’t reply in the way that we want or they’ll think we’re annoying. So sometimes we’ve got to get over, we’ve got to get over that thought process in our head. And actually when you go with an attitude of service and think about how you can help them, it’s much easier to make that cold outreach because you’re doing something for them rather than something for you.

Okay, this brings me to my fifth thought on building this area of your business, word of mouth marketing, and that is to track your results. If you don’t already, you need to be making sure whenever you get an inquiry, maybe you can add it as a, an option to your form, or even just when you get on a call with someone, I want you to be asking the question about how they found you.

You need to have a good understanding about where these people are coming from. Otherwise, it’s just a shot in the dark. So, are they finding you from Instagram? Are they finding you from a venue recommendation? Is there one supplier that’s recommending you over and over again? Is it your past couples who are recommending you?

Are they finding you on Google? If you’re not asking this question and tracking this result, you’re missing a huge piece of the jigsaw. Not only does it mean you can see what’s working and do more of it, so if you can see that… word of mouth advertising, other suppliers, venues, planners recommending you is a big bulk of your work, then you need to invest in building more of those relationships, going to more events, meeting more people, going to more conferences, being in the right rooms because you know it works.

Also, if there’s certain names or certain venues that are coming up time and time again, this allows you to be really thankful. Send them something to say thank you, send them a Christmas gift and Thank them for doing this. I had this with my accountant. I think it was last year, possibly the year before I’d sent them loads of referrals of people who wanted an accountant and I wasn’t expecting anything back.

They’re a good accountant and therefore I sent lots of people their direction and they sent me a Christmas gift to say, thank you for all of the referrals. And that was a really kind gesture. Not only does it make me like them even more than I did before and carry on recommending them, but it was something they didn’t have to do.

So if there is someone that’s doing a lot of recommending, whether it’s a venue team, a planner, or. Maybe just one of your couples, make sure you’re saying thank you and maybe reach out with a physical way of saying thank you, especially if they’re earning you lots of money into your business. I think the thing is to remember, though, with this kind of word of mouth advertising that the results are not always tangible.

So you have to see it as part of a. Bigger picture, because if you met someone at event today and you start building a relationship, you don’t know where that’s going to go in the future, how many couples they’re going to send to you. And it may take a little while to see tangible results from that, but you only need to be in one of the right rooms and build one really meaningful relationship.

And if it’s the right one, it could offer you work for years and years and years to come. So it’s important to look at the bigger picture often. It’s hard to know what results we’re getting from these things. But if you can see that your inquiries are coming from word of mouth advertising, then it’s absolutely worth doing more of it.

And if they’re not, if you’re not getting anything from that, then maybe you need to review your approach. Try out some of the things in today’s episode and start working harder on this area of your business. After all, it costs basically nothing and it’s incredibly So as we finish, I’d love to know which of these things are you going to implement?

Why not drop me a message on Instagram if you’re listening to today’s episode and tell me what you’re going to try out. Who are you going to reach out to? What are you going to do to reach out to more people and build this word of mouth advertising? How can you get more reviews? How can you share more reviews on your social media?

And if you do some kind of social media posts, why not tag me in it at Becca Pountney? I’d love to take a look. I hope. All of the tips in today’s episode have been helpful. If you’re loving this podcast, please follow the show. It helps me so much to get those followers and why not take 30 seconds to leave me a testimonial or review of the show in whatever player you’re listening to this in.

It means the world to me and it helps me grow the show. Have a great week and I’ll see you next time.

Becca xo

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