What wedding pros can do to get more clients in the off-season

Today I'm going over a long list of things wedding professionals can do to get more clients during the off-season.

I'll be touching on easy tweaks all the way to a brand overhaul. 

This post covers a lot of ground, so buckle up and get ready to find ways to not only get more clients, but get BETTER clients.  

(This is good advice for anyone who runs a business.)

 
 How Wedding Pros Can Get More Dream Clients
 

It was a long, hard wedding season. You're tired, achy, and (most likely) thrilled that you somehow managed to make it through another wedding season.

Now that you have your feet up and your brain is starting to recognize what day of the week it is again, it's time to refocus on what you can do to get more client and improve the inner workings of your business.

Let's get to it!

Website fixes and facelifts.

I see a lot of wedding professionals ignore their websites. When business is good, you don't have time to do it. When it's not good, you don't have the budget.

There never seems to be a good time. 

The right time is now. Right now, because your website is usually your clients' first touch with your brand.

You may be feeling confident with a solid number of clients right now. Or you may be an essential part of the ceremony or reception.

But that level of comfort doesn't mean you can slack on your website and marketing.

Not only should you be putting your best face forward at all times because that's good business, but we all know that the industry can be fickle.

Trends can change in the blink of an eye, you want to be nimble and that means you need to be aware and take stock of what you already have.  

Website Tech & Typos

The technology part

Easy to find out: Is your website using old technology?

Mm-hmm. I hear some of you out there saying that you redesigned your site (4 years ago) and it's doing fine.

Except you know the hard truth, in "technology years" 4 years is OLD and there's a good chance you're stuff is outdated if you aren't paying attention to your site. 

I cannot stress it enough. Responsive, mobile-ready sites are important. In case you don't know what a responsive website is, it means that it can adjust to any screen size and still be accessible & readable. 

People have ALL sizes of screens these days.

Your site needs to look good on all of them. If your site isn't responsive, you're doing a disservice to your visitors by making your site difficult to navigate.

If you ain’t first, you’re last.
— Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights

Is your site loading slow?

Your site needs to load fast.

You need to use high-quality images, as retina screens have twice the pixel density. It's easier than ever to see when a site is using low quality or over-compressed imagery.

At the same time, your images need to be light enough not to weigh the site down. 

I know this sounds like a lot. But, there's an easy answer.

Use an image compressor like TinyPNG or Kraken.io (Kraken is my most favorite compressor, coincidentally, it's also my favorite rum—try it, your Dark 'n Stormies will never be the same). 

These compressors are fabulous at keeping your photos looking great without degrading the quality.

Stop. Using. Flash.

And, I cannot stress this enough, you should not be using Flash on your website—anywhere (you do know that Adobe is officially killing Flash, right).

Fix yer typos

Fixing typos is one of the easiest ways to make yourself look more professional.

Having typos on your site is kind of like buttoning your shirt on the wrong hole.

You can be wearing a crisply ironed shirt, but that one thing will manage to make you look unprofessional.

This is so easy to do, you can almost do it in your sleep (unless you don't have access to your website, then you have to get in touch with your developer). 

Check your grammar

Nail your use of there, they're, their. Don't have extra spaces before a period. "A lot" is two words, not one. 

You may make the best wedding cake. You might be the best wedding DJ around. You may design glorious flower arrangements. 

But if you look like you can't spell or use proper grammar, those are some pretty big strikes against you.

How to fix 'em...

Run spellcheck before publishing a page.

Go the extra mile and check your readability levels. Sometimes we have the curse of knowledge and we'll talk above people's heads without realizing it.

I love the Hemingway App for readability.

 
 YAY! This blog post is written at a 5th grade reading level (you want it around 8th grade or lower). I really love when it tells me what sentences are hard to read and how many are acceptable to have (so know you don't HAVE to fix 'em).

YAY! This blog post is written at a 5th grade reading level (you want it around 8th grade or lower). I really love when it tells me what sentences are hard to read and how many are acceptable to have (so know you don't HAVE to fix 'em).

 

And Grammarly for good measure, although I don't think it does a particularly good job at grammar.

I also don't like the panic they insight with the critical issues that need to be fixed (I've had the paid version, I didn't feel it was worth the hefty price tag).

 
 The same post run through Grammarly. See how it found 15 CRITICAL issues and 54 ADVANCED issues that they'd tell me about if I paid them? At least they told me I spelled "achey" wrong. Spoiler alert: They say pretty much the same thing Hemingway did. 

The same post run through Grammarly. See how it found 15 CRITICAL issues and 54 ADVANCED issues that they'd tell me about if I paid them? At least they told me I spelled "achey" wrong. Spoiler alert: They say pretty much the same thing Hemingway did. 

 

If you don't show that you care about the client's experience in these initial touch points… you're unintentionally showing potential clients that you don't pay attention to details. 

You and I know that's not true, so now's the perfect time to fix this kind of thing and not annoy prospective clients.

Refresh your portfolio

Ugh! Everyone says that...

Right. Because it's important and it's worth repeating. 

You should be updating your portfolio at least twice a year.

Here's why. 

Your newest portfolio samples help to bring in new clients (but you knew that already), new people to your site (you probably knew that too), and it adds fresh SEO to your website (oooh... ahhh...).

There are a lot of things Google loves. It loves pages, incoming links, internal links, images that have meta tags, and sincere language (because Google's smart, it understand language now not just search terms). 

But above all else. Google adores freshness. Can't you blame it? Who doesn't want fresh things? 

Google LOVES discovering new content so much that it forgets the stinky, moldy, websites that don't bother to air themselves out. 

Forget about your site and Google will forget about it, too. 

Testimonials

If you check your analytics you're going to notice that your testimonials page is one of your least visited pages—go ahead, I'm chilling in Starbucks... I'll wait.

Because you're amazing, there's probably a long wall of happy brides and grooms gushing about how you were great to work with. 

But it all kind of sounds like they're saying the same thing, doesn't it? It's going to sound like that to your visitors too.

Getting testimonials to work hard for you

Don't be shy about guiding your clients on how to write their testimonial, they probably don't feel like they're amazing writers either. 

But they had a problem you solved. A worry you quelled. 

And your visitors have those same worries. Your testimonials can help to dissolve those fears right while your visitor is browsing your site. 

Location is everything

To get the highest impact from these new testimonials, put them on your site where people will see it without having to make an active choice to visit the page. 

By your call-to-action, on your Contact page, on your About page. Those fabulous new testimonials won't be missed when you put them on your highest converting pages.     

Give yourself a Brand Audit

Logos and social media and client experiences... oh my! (Yeah, I just forced that in there.)

Before you start to get nervous about needing a whole rebrand, know this:  assessing your brand doesn't necessarily mean you're in for an overhaul (you may not need one at all). 

Small changes in your brand can take you from "meh" to "va-va-va-VOOM!" 

Assess your brand logo

This is not about being pretty or cool enough. You can have a really cool logo that's totally out of sync with the vibe you're trying to create.

This could be because your focus changed. Maybe you DIY'd your logo when you were just starting out and now you're more established. 

But here's the deal on why you need to look at it. 

If you're noticing you're not attracting the kinds of clients you're gunning for, it could be that you're rejected based on the vibe your brand puts out. 

A luxury price demands a luxury look and a posh experience. 

If you're charging premium prices you need to give your clients a premium experience all the way through their experience with you, tip to tail.

Check out Harborview Studio's rebrand and the AMAZEBALLS turnaround we did on his branding and overall business (I'm still shocked at how fast his business changed). 

Consistency is key 

Yes, consistency is key for a successful brand.

It goes without saying that you want to send the same message on all of your platforms. (Although, I just said it.)

So what do I mean. I mean consistency with your writing style, your messaging, your imagery. Wherever anyone goes to have contact with you, it should seem like it's the same YOU—even if you've (unintentionally) abandoned a social platform. 

Have a plan

Are you shooting from the hip when it comes to posting on social media or do you have a strategy?

Listen to me, gunslinger... if you don't have a long game you're going to exhaust yourself. There's an easy way to make your social media feel like it's second nature. 

Do you know what your clients respond to? Do those social posts convert into hard earned dollars?

You're not going to know unless you build a plan.

Make it easy on yourself and split your posting out 1 topic per day. 

Instead of: "Hey! Look at this cool thing I did!" on endless repeat it'll be more like... images of great boutonnières on Monday, photos of the prettiest bouquets on Tuesday, Wednesday are couple candids...

Are you picking up what I'm putting down?

When you have a routine, life is SO much easier for you and for your readership.

Where are you focusing?

It seems like every wedding vendor is on Instagram (you are on Instagram... right),  that said you'd be amazed to know that a ton of vendors get conversions from the Facebook page that they haven't updated in over a year.  (I know! Right! Don't believe me, go check your Google Analytics.)

You have to keep an eye on where your visitors are actually coming from, not just where the industry says you need to be. (Check your Google analytics for this.)

Then you have things that aren't social media like WeddingWire, The Knot, and dozens of other directory listings you're on. These all still count toward the consistency program.

I know this is overwhelming.

I've spoken to a lot of wedding professionals on how much this makes them want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over their head.

Batch the task and it won't seem so overwhelming.

Make a day out of it. Get your favorite breakfast croissant, a fancy coffee (or tea) and sit down and make this something you're not going to hate. 

Take a deep breath. 

Then dedicate that day to making sure your brand is consistent throughout all of online client touches.

All of your marketing channels should say the same thing about you (or close to the same thing).

And don't feel bad if you take a look and they're all over the place... it happens to all of us (I'm pretty sure Facebook and Twitter need a little love from my end). Just do the best you can and feel good about it!

Perk-up your brand conversation

You can have a business or you can have a brand.

The difference between those two is that your brand can create a much more powerful following because it creates a conversation that people can invest in.

A business? Eh, it sells things. 

I see so many wedding vendor websites that have not weathered the test of time. They haven't updated themselves from a business to a brand.

Making your copy self-centered is an old sales technique. It's severely dated.

Sterile sales text about the service or product you deliver makes your job much harder because you're initiating a cold sale nearly every time.

Because you're not addressing anyone specific (hello, dream client... where are you), you can't nail down a better client base.  You're just trying to catch the attention of anyone who wanders by.

Solid copy that speaks to your dream client

Ever wonder why you work so hard filtering out bad clients from the amazing clients? 

When you're a brand, you create a story that has your client right smack in the middle of it—they're the hero of the story and you're the guide who helps them in their journey.

Creating a conversation with your dream client usually ends with them identifying with you so strongly they can't wait to work with you. 

Take a look at the language you're using on your website. Are you speaking to your dream client? Or is your text all about you?  

Your job is to uncover your dream client's greatest need and speak directly to that.

Your client experience

People like easy. People NEED easy.

Which means you need to make it easy to contact you. Do you have forms on your website for query intakes? Is your email prominent throughout your website or buried on the Contact page?

How easy is it the booking process? 

Do you have templated emails for inquiries and workflows or are you custom crafting each email? 

Are your packages difficult to understand?

Is it time to update the packages that you offer? Is there a higher-priced package that you want people to buy? How can you tweak it to make it more attractive?

Do you have a welcome packet?

Are you sending out easy and informative welcome packets to people who inquire about your services? This makes a huge difference with a lot of couples it really makes their life easier when it comes to choosing vendors.

Are you sending out any fun bonuses?

What are you doing to make your clients feel special outside of simply doing the job they hired for.

Do you have any little special touches that make for an extraordinary experience with you?

This is a huge thing in the wedding industry. It means the difference between a mid-range price and a premium price.

This used to irritate me until I realized how much fun it was to come up with things to legitimately make people happy. An unexpected $5 or $10 gift card to Starbucks goes a long way in delighting a customer. 

Even the kind of packaging your products arrives in can have an impact on your client experience.

 
 People. Love. Packaging.  It gets them excited and makes them feel so special. 

People. Love. Packaging.

It gets them excited and makes them feel so special. 

 

Sean from Harborview Studios was a little skeptical my suggestion for a custom branded mailer box.

He originally sent his clients a large keepsake box made out of fallen wood, customized with their names and wedding date. 

Inside would be their wedding video and snacks to munch on while watching their film. It was beautiful. 

I suggested downgrading the box to something a little smaller (the size of a BluRay box), keep the candies, but change the shipping box from plain cardboard to custom branding.

Big result with little effort

Seeing the packaging arrive in the mail made his clients *instantly* excited to watch the video and increased their anticipation for what they would find inside.

He's heard more positive feedback from the change and has seen it Instagramed more often.

Changes like this not only increase your client experience but it shows that you take your brand seriously. 

Here's the kicker. This switch to custom packaging has saved Sean money on the packaging and the cost of shipping. He's taken the extra step to delight his customers AND it's reduced costs at the same time. Hello, win-win!

It doesn't take much to delight your customers and go above and beyond your typical services. @@Little touches go a long way in creating a special experience clients will remember.@@ 

You made it!

And there you have it, my friends!

That's the end of my long list of things wedding professionals can do to get more clients in the off season.

I really do believe in working smarter, not harder. These fixes aren't magic and do not expect them to change things overnight.

But things will change with patience. Be diligent even when you feel like you're totally fucking it all up.

Know that a strong foundation will support you in the long run and the work is worth it. 

Just imagine what it would be like to not have to chase down sales, or to work with clients you gel with all the time. 

 

 

What are you tackling this off-season? 

I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment below.


Cindy Caughey

In Good Company Design, Barnstable, MA