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If you are like many wedding professionals, your marketing budget is slim, or even non-existent.  When we began over a decade ago with Bloomtastic, our annual marketing budget was limited to a mere $2000, and the only reason it was even that much was because it cost $1600 for a booth at the largest bridal show in Columbus (Which attracted about 2500 local brides, so you can see why it was money well spent).

Marketing in general is how you grow your business.  If you are a new wedding professional, it doesn’t need to be a bad thing.  Or scary.  Or costly.  You just need a solid plan, several hours to devote, and a knack for baking.

GROW YOUR BUSINESS #1:  Centers of Influence   are a fabulous way to grow your business quickly and inexpensively!  A center of influence is someone who can refer bridal leads to you.  Think: bakers, photographers, florists, venues (that’s a BIG ONE!), DJ’s, stationers, wedding planners (another BIG ONE, unless you are a planner), bridal salons…any other wedding pro in another category.  PLUS–there are centers of influence outside of the wedding world, too!  Hair stylists, realtors, mortgage brokers…anyone doing business with young couples is a potential source for leads.

Here’s what you do:  Identify your top potential centers of influence and create a game plan to “woo” them.  Send a handwritten card or email after a wedding saying how nice it was to work with them; email an article you just read that you thought they would be interested in; bake them some cookies and deliver in person to their studio; invite them out for coffee to chat about how YOU can become a referral source for them.  REMEMBER:  givers get, and to receive you must first give!

Here you will spend mostly your time, maybe 45-cents in postage if you mail a card and ten-bucks in cookies (if you bake them fresh) per center of influence.

GROW YOUR BUSINESS #2:  Sell More   to your existing clients!  You’ve already done the hard work–you obtained the client!  Now, show them what they are missing out on and what they absolutely cannot live without!  Yes, this is called “up-selling” and it’s not a dirty word.  You can increase your sale by 20% (maybe even more) by offering additional products and services, and all you have to do is OFFER THEM.  SHOW THEM.  DEMONSTRATE THEM.  And let the client buy.  No sleezey car salesman tactics here, but think of it this way:  if you are not showing your client all you have available to them, you are doing them a disservice.

This method doesn’t cost you any more than the sample product (if there is any) and a little bit of your time.  Send out an email to current brides showcasing the latest new product you just got in.  Or, purposely add a new line to your offerings, such as wedding favors and accessories (any wedding pro can offer these and many companies will drop-ship, thus requiring no up-front investment from you).  Be sure to point these fantastic items out during their final consultation to snag any last minute sales.

GROW YOUR BUSINESS #3:  Facebook/Instagram Ads   I’ve been hearing wedding pros in the Facebook groups I am a member of raving about Instagram right now, and Facebook is still #1.  When it comes to advertising, no one offers you better reach for the money than Facebook.  You can target specifically who sees your ad in the Ads Manager and you can test your ads!  How cool is that?!?  Facebook has become the “pay to play” platform, so if you haven’t already bit the bullet, do it now.

Here’s how:  Create an ad in your Facebook manager (I suggest one of two Objectives:  “Conversions to your Website” or “Reach People Near Your Business” if you want to target just local couples).  Use one picture that really describes what you do (if you are a photographer, show a pic of you shooting a pic of a bride and groom; if you are a baker show a pic of the best cake you have ever made that is also on trend right now, etc), and use the text above the picture to explain HOW AMAZING THE WEDDING WILL BE WHEN YOU ARE HER WEDDING PRO (remember WIIFM–What’s in it for me.  This isn’t about you, your service or products, no!  It’s all about the couple and what will happen for them).  Or, for something more catchy…use the text above the picture to ask the bride to check her date’s availability with you.  Have the name of your business below the picture and the “click” button needs to correspond with what you want them to do.

Another idea is to have a contest and direct people to the page of your website with the details via the Facebook ad.

This method can cost you whatever you want it to.  The more you spend, the more people see it.  I like the ad objective of “Conversions to your website” because then I only pay for clicks, not impressions (how many people see the ad).  I typically invest $10 per day and run my ads for 3-7 days to test them.

GROW YOUR BUSINESS #4:  Referrals   In the wedding world, we don’t get much repeat business.  But what we CAN get is referrals!  First, did you know that 2 out of 3 bridesmaids will get married in the next year or so?  That means two-thirds of all the bridesmaids you come across will be getting married soon.  CHA-CHING!  And not to brag, but a little over 50% of our brides are referrals.  It is the least expensive and most effective way to gain a bride’s business–hands down!

Here’s what you do:  First and foremost, do your best work.  She has already experienced you and your service/products, the bride will remind her later when she gets engaged how fantastic you were…you are now higher on the list than any other wedding pro in that category.  Next, reach out to your former brides six months and a yer afterwards, just touching base to say hello and to subtly remind them of you.  You can casually throw out, “remember me as your friends get married!” or some pros offer a kick-back for referrals.  It’s doesn’t need to be much…a $25 Starbucks card per bride who hires you or even a credit towards your services (this works great for photographers).  Or some pros give the kick-back to the incoming bride in the form of reduced delivery fees, etc.

Referrals cost you nothing but time unless you offer a kick-back.  I would keep kick-backs under $50 so it’s not seen as bribery.

GROW YOUR BUSINESS #5:  Grass-Roots Marketing   My favorite topic!!  I love, love love marketing!!  We are all creatives in this wedding industry, so this is our chance to show off our stuff!  Think about things you can do, outside the box, that will catch people’s attention.  Can you teach a class?  What about giving something of value away for free?  Do you use the P.S. in your emails to share the latest and greatest with your brides?  One year, I hosted a STRIPPER PARTY… well, that is a Rose Stripping Party for my brides.  A few days prior to Valentine’s Day, they ladies came in, we ate food, drank, and each bride grabbed a stripper and helped de-thorn roses.  Clever idea…people talked…word of mouth marketing erupted.

This method costs you time, for certain, and minimal cost otherwise unless you purchase something to give away, food, etc.

**How have you used the above methods to grow your business?  What ideas can you share below in the comments?  Looking forward to reading them!!