So many vendors are feeling the effects of the economic slump, there's a prevailing impression that "the brides just aren't out there." Our experience at The Wedding & Special Event Yellow Pages
We've been distributing our book for just under 11 months, and have already nearly reached our 20,000 annual goal -- in fact, we're running a couple of weeks ahead
of our normal distribution rate. (This despite being able to distribute much less than half
our normal volume at bridal shows this year.)
Similarly, our web traffic is comparable to previous years' fall/winter results -- and, it has been the same or higher than last year throughout 2008.
Our book is of no real use to anyone who isn't actively planning an event -- so, it stands to reason that thousands of potential clients have at least begun the process of planning their weddings. But, why are these prospects not contacting and booking wedding vendors?
Based on the results of our online brides' survey, our interactions with brides, and other sources of economic and marketing information, I have a few theories. I suspect that many brides are influenced by two emotions of the moment: fear and guilt.
The fearful brides worry that they (or their fiancés) will be without a job sometime in the near future; it's hard to justify spending thousands of dollars on a single event when worrying about paying the rent/mortgage.
The guilt-ridden brides, on the other hand, may have the money set aside for their weddings -- but, may consider it imprudent, insensitive or gauche to spend lavishly during economic times that are difficult for so many. Brides may also feel the need to be 'greener,' less wasteful.
What's a wedding vendor to do? Address these emotions in their marketing programs, of course! Some thoughts on how to do so:
- develop some kind of prepayment/layaway type program
- offer more modest or flexible packages
- reduce deposit requirements/penalties for cancellation
- emphasize your company's experience and customer satisfaction track record in your advertising -- to help nervous brides feel they are making a sound investment
- emphasize value for money
in all your materials and in the packages you establish
- provide context
: for example, a $1500-$2000 service is about the same cost as a daily latte for one year -- switch to drip for a year and it's almost paid for, painlessly
- connect your business to local charities -- perhaps incorporating a donation with purchases
- emphasize in your promotional materials that the wedding is an opportunity for a bride and groom to entertain their loved ones
-- some of whom may not feel they can afford a really great night out
- reinforce that a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event --
it justifies a memory-making celebration
- consider developing a greener side of your business -- whether by adding recycled materials, promoting local, in-season flowers, local foods and other local goods, offering living plants instead of cut flowers, or taking other steps to cut waste and transportation. And be sure to promote any aspects of your business that already qualify as environmentally friendly.