Hey there, CEOs. Welcome to the Wedding Pro CEO Podcast. I’m your host, Brandee Gaar, and every single week on this podcast, my mission is to help you, the wedding industry entrepreneur, to build a profitable wedding business that you actually love. On today’s show, we’re switching it up a bit because I was a guest on the Wedding MBA Podcast, and I’m talking all about my presentation at this year’s Wedding MBA, which is the first week of November in Las Vegas, Nevada.
If you’ve never been to Wedding MBA before, it is a absolute wealth of knowledge, but what I love most about Wedding MBA is the networking. I feel like everyone is at Wedding MBA all at the same time. And it’s so fun to get to walk around the trade shows and to meet the speakers and to get to network with people that you’ve only known online and it’s so fun to get to hug their face in person. So I am really really excited to be at Wedding MBA this year. I’m going to be speaking on Tuesday afternoon at 4 PM and I’m going to be talking all about master level persuasion and how to meet your clients exactly where they are because persuasion is your number one sales skill. I’m also teaching you right here in this episode how to use the assume method to close more of your consultations.
Grab a notebook and settle in so that you can take a listen to this episode!
“Ask the right questions, and you’ll not only understand your clients better but also persuade them effortlessly.”Brandee Gaar
I also want to invite you to join Megan Gillikin from The Planners Vault and myself, and a hundred of our closest friends at our second annual Wedding MBA Bash. Megan I will be hosting this event on Tuesday afternoon from 6PM to 8PM at the Renaissance Hotel right there next to the Convention Center at Wedding MBA. Last year, we had an absolute blast with about 120 wedding professionals that came and we did tacos and margaritas this year. We have an incredible event planned with so many amazing sponsors and we would love to see you there. Click the link, grab your ticket so you can join Megan Gillikin, myself and so many of our amazing sponsors that are going to be there for a night of networking and fun and laughter, drinks, and of course some food as well. We are going to have a blast.
Many of the listeners may be feeling and starting to realize the wedding industry is in kind of a, I like to call it a correction, right? I don’t think that we’re by any means in a recession, but 2022 was a massive year for weddings because of all the pent up demand from the pandemic. And really this year is what I like to call a correction in that we’re kind of leveling out. So while last year we had so many weddings, I mean, you just were getting so many leads. You couldn’t get proposals out fast enough. You couldn’t book fast enough, didn’t have the team. And this year it’s like, okay, but where’d all those inquiries go?
Right? And I think a lot of people are afraid that it’s just drying up, but that’s not the case at all. What we’re really seeing this year is that you have to get back to understanding who your ideal client is, what their pain points are, how you’re going to speak to them, how you are going to market to them, how to find them, and then how to let them know that you are the wedding pro for them. So I think that this topic is really, really timely because we’re going to be talking a lot about how to differentiate yourself from the pack. How to stand out in the marketplace.
What I love about a down market is it really gives us an opportunity to separate the good wedding pros from the great wedding pros. And so for me, I feel like a down market is always a great way to flex those skills that you have as a really great wedding pro. So I’m really, really excited to get in the room with wedding pros this November and chat about this.
One of the points in my session is understanding potential buyers at a deeper level and I think that’s really the biggest difference this year versus last year is that last year it was. The wedding pros market, right? Like there weren’t enough pros to go around. Engaged couples had to book so fast that they didn’t really even have time to know whether you were the right fit. They just needed a pro, right? And people were booking up so fast that they just were booking. Now they know they have time to pick people that are really a great fit for them. So when you’re selling, you can’t just sell your bullet points, right? You can’t just say, well, we’ll be there for eight hours and we’re going to deliver 1500 edited images.
No one cares about the bullet points because at the end of the day, all photographers, all planners, all DJs, we’re really delivering the same service you know, like, yes, there’s a few differences here and there, but for the most part, a great wedding planner is going to execute your day flawlessly, right? A great DJ is going to keep your dance floor packed. There’s not a lot of differences. But what you need to do to stand out is to understand your buyer and their pain point. And I love this so much because I’ll take, for instance, my company, right? My company, I have a planning firm in Orlando. Our client is typically a destination client.
Usually either the bride or the groom. One of the partners grew up in Orlando, moved away for college, met the love of their life, and now they’re going to come back to Orlando to have their wedding. But most of the guests are from out of state because they’ve got all their friends coming, the partner’s family coming from out of state. So it’s destination heavy. So their pain points are that they’re already graduated from college. They have careers, they’re busy. They don’t have time. They’re bringing all these people here and they’re spending a ton of money to come for their wedding. And so they want it to be guest focused. They want their guests to feel important, right? They want it to be flawless, but they do not have the resources to know if it’s gonna be flawless because they’re not here. So there’s a lot of trust that goes into that, right? So when we’re talking to our clients, it’s about we have the relationships, we know the people to go to.
We focus on the guest experience for the whole weekend, not just for the day. It’s all about the destination for the whole weekend. Now, that versus, let’s say, a planner that is very focused on day of or event management service, right? The pain point of that client is more that they want to save some money, right? They may be more budget focused. They do have the time, but they might not know the resources. They might not know which vendors to book. They might not know the difference between place cards and escort cards. So a lot of knowing the pain points of that client is helping to tell them that they can plan their own wedding, but you’re going to help give them that knowledge right? Give them some resources. You’re going to kind of be an ear for them as they’re planning their wedding. And then you’ll take all of their things and you’ll execute that at the end. But those pain points are very, very different. So understanding your potential buyers at a deeper level is important because then you sell to their pain points versus just, I’ll be there for eight hours and I’ll flawlessly execute your day. Well, so will everyone else. So how are you different and how are you speaking directly to what they need?
When you really can narrow in on the demographic you are speaking to, people hear all the time, you have to know your ideal client avatar. Listen, I don’t want to know that Susie’s 37 and what she drinks from Starbucks. I don’t care. But what I do want to know is in regards to what they want from their wedding. You have to remember that it’s a lot of money, whether somebody’s spending $10,000 or a million dollars on their wedding, no matter what, it’s a lot of money to spend on one day or one weekend.
We have to understand where our client fits into that and what their relationship with that money is, what they want guests to say about their wedding and we have to sell the transformation, right? Like we don’t want to sell the bullet points. I think that’s like my thing. I always tell people, don’t sell your bullet points.
Sell the experience, sell the transformation, sell the feelings, sell what people are going to say about their wedding forever. And it really helps you. To not just identify who your buyer is, but also what makes you different from everyone else. I mean, when an engaged couple goes onto Instagram and does a search for Orlando wedding photographer, A LOT of people come up.
And so how do you stand out from all the other photographers, right? What makes you different? What do you deliver? What’s the experience they’re going to get with you? And when you understand What your clients need from you. You can really hone in on how you’re going to deliver that. And that really will help you to close those sales so much faster.
As a wedding pro, it’s a matter of asking the questions. Let’s say that when they get to me, they’ve already booked their venue. Well, I don’t want to just assume that they booked XYZ venue because they loved the aesthetic or the brick wall. I want to ask those questions. What made you choose
this venue in particular? What made you choose your wedding date? I always ask that. Some people are like “it was the available date and we’re teachers and like we had to just pick a date within these three weeks”, so it tells you a lot about your couple!
And so it’s so important to ask the questions. Yes, there’s a lot that other vendors can tell you or knowing who their other vendors are that can tell you, but you do want to ask, like, why’d you book that photographer? What was it about them that drew you in? Why’d you book that DJ? What was it about them that you loved? It can tell you a lot about their personalities and also what they’re expecting from their wedding, like what kind they’re putting together or whether they’re a price conscious couple. Some couples may say it was the cheapest venue, right? It was the one that fit within our budget. And that’s a great answer.
It tells you something. Some may say, I’ve dreamed about it. I’ve seen it on Instagram for two years. And when I got my ring, I went straight there and booked it. But it tells you just a lot. So ask questions. And that all of this kind of goes back to that don’t sell your bullet points, right? When I turn the table and I spend that 15% of the time, you know, say we’re there for an hour, I want to spend 45 minutes asking questions and I want to spend 15 minutes or less talking about what we do because if I’ve asked the right questions and if I’ve understood my client at that point or the couple sitting in front of me, I should be able to persuade them to book me because I fill their pain points. If as a DJ, you want to ask, have you been to any weddings in the last year that you loved? And on the flip side, have you been to any that you were just like, Oh, My word, get me out of here. What was it about those? If it’s that the DJ couldn’t keep anybody on the dance floor or that he was so loud and he played games and he was obnoxious or like his equipment was terrible? You want to ask those questions because then when you go to sell the only thing you should be selling is their pain points because that’s where the persuasion comes in.
That’s when they know that you heard them, that you can fill the things that are causing them the most anxiety, right? The things that they most need from you. That’s where the persuasion comes in is that you want to be able to only speak to those pain points and how you uniquely can fill them and why you are the perfect pro to be there for their wedding day and make sure everything they’re anxious about will not happen, right?
You also always want to know what your client doesn’t want! I ask that all the time. My very first question is always, how the proposal went down. And it’s more because I feel like it’s a really easy question to get them to drop their guard because, you know, people come in, they know you’re going to try to sell them. You want to get just them talking. And so I tend to ask them, how did he propose? Like, I want to know, or how did she propose? Right? Like, I want to know, tell me the story. It’s always different from both sides, which is so funny. And you can kind of start to understand their personalities a lot, right? When you can just get them to drop their guard. Everyone loves talking about the proposal story. So it’s a lot of fun for them to talk about that. But then I want to start getting into like, tell me about how many weddings you’ve been to recently. Like you guys have probably been to a million weddings, right? Were there any that you were just like, I would die if this happened at my wedding.
Like, that’s how I pose that question. I always say, what would make you just go? I will literally crawl under a table if this happens at my wedding. And I think that’s a really interesting question because again, it just leads you to what are they afraid will happen at their wedding? Like, what do they not want it to be? And what I’m trying to get out of them with asking all these questions is, do they really want their wedding to be party and people to just talk about like, that was the best party I’ve ever been to? Or do they want people to think like, wow, those two are so in love and I’m just so honored that I got to be here this weekend. There’s such a difference. Do they care about the music? Do they care about the food? Do they care about the photographs? Right? Like some people are like, listen, I hired this photographer that I’m flying in from across the country because I want the most epic photographs. Then I’m like, okay, schedule in more time in the timeline for that one. Those are really helpful questions to know.
And I stress this so much to my students is to get them to know, like, and trust you. By the time you have gotten to a consult with a couple, if you have done your copy right, if you have shown up on social media, if they’ve already gotten your pricing and packages, you’ve now made a short list. For the most part, you’ve made a short list of less than five vendors that they’ve narrowed it down to. Their time is valuable as well. So they’re not meeting with every pro in America. So it’s, how do you get them to know, like, and trust you? It’s less about your bullets and your hard deliverables and more about, do I like this person? Like, can I see that I trust them with my biggest day ever, with my largest expense ever, can I trust them to make me feel great about what I’m presenting in front of my guests? And that especially would go for like a DJ, right? I mean, you’ve got the mic on their most special day. Like they wanna know that you’re not gonna embarrass them, that you’re gonna understand what kind of a party they wanna have! With a photographer, you’re gonna be with them all day. You’re the person in their face the most. How do you get them to let their guard down and trust you and feel like you’re not going to show their bad side?
So it’s a lot about just getting them to drop their guard and getting them to really, really have that trust factor and to say like, man, I want to hang out with them because then when you go to close, and this is my favorite part, you should be able to assume the sale. Assuming the sale is so simple when you’ve done the pre work, when they know, like, and trust you, that sale shouldn’t end with like, um, okay, well, should I follow up with you in like three days or five days? Like it should be so confident that you are able to say, Oh my gosh, you guys, like I literally cannot wait for your wedding day to get here because we’re going to have so much fun together. So I’ll go ahead and send a contract over today. And then you can do everything online. And once I get everything back, your date will be locked in with us. We’re going to go ahead and get started. Does that sound good? And the only answer they could have at that point is yeah, because they love you. Like they know, like, and they trust you. And so it makes that closing so much easier.
I just want to encourage you guys to really be thoughtful about all of your sales process, to just really, really think about it as less of a transaction and more of a relationship. When you build a relationship with someone, I promise you your closing rate will go up so much and you will really start to enjoy sales and it’ll feel less like, Oh my gosh, I have a sales call, and more like, Ah, I can’t wait to meet a new couple that I get to work with. So really, really think about the relationship and how you’re going to fill the pain points of that couple sitting in front of you.
“Understanding your potential buyers on a deeper level is the key to standing out in a saturated market.”Brandee Gaar
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