Building out a wedding planner business is no easy task. There’s so much to consider about connections, vendors, and making sure you’re up to date on all COVID-19 protocols and trends. And then there’s the major question of how to get referrals from clients. Just how do you get wedding clients in the first place?
There are a few avenues you can head down when it comes to referrals. Regardless of how you go about it, wedding planners can agree that word of mouth is one of the best marketing strategies out there.
So here’s how you do it.
Why Word-of-mouth Marketing is Key to Getting Wedding Clients
Word of mouth is more personal. That’s the heart of it. When a couple talks about their wedding planner, either at a party or on social media, they are talking about their lived experience.
You can have the most detail-focused copy written for your ad campaigns, but people want a personal touch. They want to see what their experience with you as a wedding planner would look like. After all, wedding days are some of the most important days in people’s lives. They want to be taken care of.
If a friend refers someone to you, that referral is trusting you based on their relationship with their friend. If someone chooses to hire you based on a testimonial from a bride in a Facebook group and their story really appealed to them, that is going to help your business so much more than a boosted post or other paid advertising.
Yes, getting as many eyes on your website and business is very important. But don’t forget the human element to all of this. Personal referrals and word of mouth will appeal to the heart of potential clients.
How to Get Referrals From Clients
When it comes to marketing your wedding planning business, there is no greater advertiser than your former clients. As to how you get those recommendations, well, there are a few options available.
Building and maintaining relationships with your couples is very important. Once the wedding is over, that doesn’t mean you never talk with them again. Whether it’s commenting on their Instagram posts or just sending an anniversary email every year, there are ways to keep that relationship going.
So, how to get referrals from clients? Here’s some options to start with.
If you don’t have a Facebook group of your own connected to your business page, that’s a great place to start. Creating your own Facebook group and having your clients join it, as well as inviting prospective brides, will create a wonderful space for discussion. It’s also a great way to promote your business overall.
If you don’t have your own group, no worries. Just make sure you are a member of a few others that are dedicated to wedding planning and for brides.
Interacting with brides, sharing your knowledge, and even offering some tips will build your reputation. So when it comes to asking for referrals, that reputation should precede you. People will be more likely to help you if they have a relationship with you and you have actively engaged in Facebook groups.
Client referrals doesn’t just mean the wedding couple. Getting referrals and giving referrals to vendors is a great way to build recognition and reciprocity. If you send more people their way, chances are they will refer people to you when a wedding planner is needed.
Collaborating with a variety of vendors is just smart marketing. Highlight them on social media, in newsletters, and on your website, and ask that they do the same.
One of the best ways to share your business and wedding planning skills, and to get people to check you out, is through testimonials. These are half reviews and half stories. Ask couples, either directly or indirectly through a thank you follow-up email, to offer a testimonial about their experience.
You can guide them with questions, like what were you looking for in a wedding planner, how was your experience on the big day, and would you recommend me to your engaged friends? Or you can ask them to freeform it and tell you about their experience overall.
With their answers, you can craft social media posts, blogs and ads, and showcase them on your website. Testimonials are the reviews potential clients value. They are looking for the real-life experiences of other brides and grooms, and the more detail there is, the more they will value it.
Always ask permission before sharing their testimonial on social media, or clearly indicate in the email that testimonials will be shared.
Building Referrals into Your Business Plan
When it comes to building your wedding planner business plan, there are critical steps to take and things to include. One of the things you should look at adding are referrals. Make it an active part of your business plan and the clients will follow. The more you put into it, the more reception you will get.
Create a Referral Program
This is a slightly controversial option in the wedding planning world. After all, you can’t really offer wedding package discounts to a couple who have already gotten married, and most couples will only refer you as a wedding planner after they’ve tied the knot. As such, the referral reward would have to come later. Most wedding planners don’t want to be shelling out money they make to former clients, but when it comes to a wedding referral program, there’s only so many options you have.
What we mean by this is the notion that if clients of yours refer you to a couple and that couple buys a wedding package, you would then award a certain percentage of that cost to the clients who referred you. The average is between 5 and 10 percent. It works for some planners, but may not be an attractive or practical option for others.
If financial incentives aren’t quite what you were thinking, you can always offer your previous clients a thoughtful gift as thank you. Again, it should be incentive enough to encourage referrals, but not eat into your profits. A gift card to a nice restaurant, a photo album with behind the scenes images from their wedding, or even a night at a local bed and breakfast could work.
If a couple were to refer you while you’re still planning their wedding, then yes, offering them a discount based on that referral is more than fair and will get you some great word of mouth. But it’s a tricky process from a fiscal standpoint and may not be the best option for everyone.
Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Really. A month or two after the wedding, send a follow-up email thanking them again for using your services and asking if they would be willing to share their experience on social media.
This can be either in the form of a review posted on your Facebook page or on Google, or you can share their testimonial on your website. Even just asking them to post about it to their personal social media feeds is an option.
You never know what clients may be willing to do if you never ask.
To Blog or Not to Blog?
It’s not really a question. Yes, you want to have a blog. In the world of SEO and keywords, when potential clients are searching for information regarding planning their wedding, you want them to come across your site. One surefire way to enhance your chances is to have a blog.
Your blog posts can be about general wedding planning topics like maintaining a vendor list or wedding cake trends. They can also be testimonials about certain weddings you have planned. You can have guest bloggers including others in the industry, which can be mutually beneficial if you link to them and they link to you.
These professional links are how to get referrals from clients. After all, if they see you being endorsed by other wedding planners, they know they’re in good company.
In general, blogs should be between 400 and 600 words to qualify for Google’s crawling according to Clariant Creative. You want to make sure there is enough information to answer the question, which can be tricky with so few words. On the flip side, the posts that perform the best and rank highest on Google pass the 2,000 word mark.
There are two sides to this, however. Yes, more words allow keywords to appear more naturally and seem less forced. They also tend to do a better job at answering someone’s question. However, in today’s age of instant satisfaction and short attention spans, 2,000 words may just be too much for the average internet searcher.
Regardless, using a blog is a great way to highlight your business and get your name out there. Use clients’ reviews as testimonials on your site. Write about their special day. Your clients will then share those blogs on their social media and spread information about your business via word of mouth. A blog is just another vehicle to help along the way.
Word of Mouth: It’s How to Get Wedding Clients
The wedding planning business is all about the people: the people getting married, the people making the day special, and of course, you. That’s why appealing to vendors and clients alike is a great marketing strategy.
So, how to get referrals from clients?Share stories, actively engage in social media groups, and get writing. The more you put out there, the more people will talk about it.