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ReferralsBridal shows are okay.  Advertising on The Knot and Wedding Wire is like a necessary evil–you must do it to be seen as a real wedding vendor, but it’s a waiting game; maybe you’ll get a call.  Referrals, however, are little gold nuggets!  Referrals are not cold leads, they already know someone who is in love with you.  Referrals are more likely to chose you as their wedding vendor over another vendor whom is not tried and true.  So how do you get more referrals?

At my flower business, Bloomtastic flowers & events, 50% of our clients are referred to us by other brides.  THAT’S HUGE!!!!  It saves us money in advertising and we meet with far less brides and book more weddings (we have a documented 90% booking rate) because a referred bride is more likely to hire you over someone who just randomly found you on Google.

Since we are entering wedding season, you will now have many happy brides who have used your services and can be a powerful sales tool for you.

Here is our secret for obtaining referrals…

ASK.

That’s right, it’s really that easy–just ask!  Okay, maybe there is a little more to it, such as how you ask.  You will find that the more a potential bride hears and sees your name, the higher up on the list you go.  And when a friend/co-worker/family member actually tells her she needs to go see you, you just sky-rocketed to the top!

Here are methods for building referrals:

1.)  Do Outstanding Work  so you are referral-worthy.  That’s step #1.  If you miss this step, the rest won’t do anything for you.

2.)  Online Reviews are powerful in a hundred ways.  Simply email the bride after her honeymoon, THANK HER for having you as part of her wedding, ask how the wedding went and provide her links to The Knot and Wedding Wire so she can preach to the world how fabulous you are.  Then repost the review on your Facebook and Twitter pages.  You can even ask the bride to mention you on her Facebook page so her friends are sure to see.

3.)  Reviews on your Website are great to show off your awesomeness, and be sure to include the bride’s full name so it doesn’t look fake.  Reviews are more believable with a picture, too!

4.)  Direct Referrals from brides are just as easy to get.  First–remember, two-thirds of bridesmaids will get married in the next couple of years.  They have already been a part of your work, so simply remind your bride to mention you/your company to any and all of her friends getting married.  If you are participating in an upcoming bridal show or having a bridal open house, send an email to existing and previous brides letting them know so they can tell their friends.  Staying connected to brides via Facebook is also a great way to stay in front of the newlywed and when a friend gets engaged, she’ll remember to refer you!  At Bloomtastic, we have never offered an incentive (other than just getting the best service and flowers possible), but some vendors will give a $10 Starbucks card or some small gift to brides when a referral hires them.

5.) Referrals from other Wedding Vendors are also worth their weight in gold!  Get to know other wedding vendors not in your category.  Take them out to lunch and ask how you can be of service to them (remember–you have to give to get).  Be a valuable resource for them so they want to give your information to brides.  Keep in mind the order a bride hires vendors when considering who to network with–if you are a photographer, it most likely won’t do you any good to network with a stationery pro as the potential bride choosing her invitations will already have a photographer.  However, the other way around (a stationery pro networking with a photographer) is valuable as the photographer can refer the stationery company!

What methods do you employ to gain referrals?  Please share below!

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