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Wedding how much

News flash:  It’s not the bride’s fault!

I want to begin by defending the client and clarify the biggest misconception held by wedding professionals around the globe—she doesn’t know one darn thing about you, your product and service, or how to compare your business to the next.  Most likely, this is her first wedding (and hopefully only), so she’s never shopped for what you offer before.  She has no clue.

Now you on the other hand…you know everything there is to know about your field and you probably know quite a bit about the wedding process as a whole.  That’s good, you are the expert.  This makes you a valuable resource for her.

So where is the disconnect?  Why does she lead with the question, “how much do you cost?”

First, you know too much for your own good.  You have forgotten what it is like to be an average consumer shopping for goods and services.  Being an entrepreneur has entered you into an elite category that few are in and less understand.  You comprehend COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) and labor costs and shrinkage, cash flow and P&L’s and on and on.  You need to put yourself in her shoes and pretend you know absolutely nothing about business or your craft.

Second, the bride knows from conventional wisdom that she should compare you to another vendor in your field (or three, or four, or five…as many brides do).  It’s what you do when you are shopping for a new refrigerator; you check multiple stores and compare…what?  The price.  If all features of that appliance are equal (assuming she compares the features), most likely she will buy from the store with the lowest price.

This is why she leads with the price question—she has been trained by her parents and society in general to compare anything and everything by price!  She doesn’t know any better!!  It’s the one common factor that everything has—a price tag.

While this approach works wonderfully for refrigerators, cars, and shoes, it leaves a huge void in the wedding industry.  We provide so much more than a black and white product.  So how can we re-write the instruction manual on how to shop for wedding vendors?  And better yet, use it to your advantage?

Here’s how:

Accept the things you cannot change.  Stop rolling your eyes every time the price question is asked.  Yes, you have heard it a hundred thousand times, but she doesn’t get that, nor does she really care.  Start by adjusting your attitude to the price question because there is no magic “off” switch to make brides stop asking.

Lead by example.  Use your website and blog to educate as much as possible without sounding like you are trying to school her in the ways of the wedding world.  A florist can have a “centerpiece” section of her website and show examples of centerpieces in four price ranges, such as $20-45, $50-70, $75-100 and $100+.  Give her examples of what she will receive for her money from you before she calls and wastes any of your time asking, “How much does it cost?”  Photographers and bakers can easily display packages and costs, more so than florists and stationers.  Even if it’s harder for you to give pricing because you are custom, provide examples and the retail cost of those examples.  Use your blog and showcase a wedding and explain quantities, materials involved and a price-range (out of respect to the actual client since the wedding is real, I never reveal exactly what she spent.  I would say, “Floral Budget:  $1000-1200”).  Providing this information is also an in-direct way to pre-qualify the bride; only those who like what they see and feel you are in their budget will contact you (you will have less “price-shoppers” wasting your time!).

Be likeable.  It’s true, we do business with people we know, like and trust.  You can convey a trustworthy disposition by having stellar reviews on your website from real brides, add personal details to your “about me” page like what your favorite TV show and ice cream flavor are so she feels like she knows you and can identify with you, flatter the heck out of her (“you look AMAZING in the picture of your wedding gown you just showed me!!  It fits you perfectly!!”) so she likes you, and all that contributes to your overall likeable factor.

Build a case for benefits, not features.  Oh, the classic business class exercise—features versus benefits!  It’s easy to come up with the features, but how do you determine the benefits of what you offer?  List your product(s) and their features on a sheet of paper.  Now dig.  Dig deeper.  Keep digging.  What does it really do for your client?  What is the emotional end-result?  Search the emotional benefits and you will hit the jackpot!  Now, promote those benefits and not the features.  This will change her thought-process from “How much does it cost?” to “I can’t live without you (and I’m not even thinking about cost because I will pay anything for you)!”

Don’t be all things to all brides.  You can’t be the vendor extraordinaire to all brides in every budget range and every style of wedding.  Know your target market and focus on them and only them.  Know your niche and stick to brides who are looking for what you do best.  And accept that you will not get along (or be liked) by every bride and that is fine, you don’t want to work with those brides anyway.

What if she doesn’t have a budget (or so she says)?  Read this blog post for tips on overcoming the clueless budget bride.

So, how do you respond to the price question when it’s the first thing she asks, even before you meet face-to-face?

By explaining that every wedding is unique and that there are many wonderful options available for her to make her day spectacular.  Explain that you would like to meet (or chat by phone if that’s what you do first) first so you can get to know one another and you can discover her style and goals for her wedding.  Go directly into scheduling that meeting next by offering the next available dates and times.

I’m not an advocate of saying, “Wedding packages start at $XX” as you are putting too much emphasis on the price itself and it doesn’t give you an opportunity to sell her on what you can do for her—those emotional benefits we discussed earlier.  By offering samples or actual packages for purchase on your website with pricing, showcasing real weddings on your blog and include a budget range along with details (so she can see the size of the wedding; a cake serving 500 will cost significantly more than one serving 120 guests or one that has painted flowers will cost more due to labor than one that has just fondant and the florist put real flowers on) you are providing enough data on cost for her to make a decision as to if you are in her budget range.  I would never, ever lead with that sentence for certain!  Education is key.  As a florist, if a bride asks me cost for a bridal bouquet prior to us meeting for a consultation, I respond, “The type of flowers and the size/style determine the cost.  The average bridal bouquet locally costs $100-200.”  Now I have answered her question enough for her to determine if I’m in her budget range, but also educated her that bridal bouquets are not one-size-fits-all.

I have found that if I can get a bride physically in front of me, she’s mine.  I can demonstrate to her how awesome my product and services are and what an amazing job I can do for her.   In turn, she hires me.  Not to say I have never been over budget; I cater to bride’s budgets by asking up front what her budget is, and then I show her what she can get for her money.  If it’s not what she wants, she will tell me and we can tweak some things.  If she has caviar dreams on a beer budget but wants what she wants, she either has to adjust her budget so she can pay for the flowers, or look elsewhere.

The price question will never completely go away.  It will forever be a staple of what bride’s ask vendors to qualify them.  But in turn, you can use this to your advantage to pre-qualify them, so only brides who can afford you and like you will contact you for a consultation.

*How do you overcome the price question in your wedding business?  Please share below in the comments!