By Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting
While booking prospects who may have found you online or through advertising is certainly cause for celebration, referrals are a fantastic way to boost your business with leads that are more or less pre-qualified by someone who is familiar with your work.
Typically in this industry, we find that there are two types of referrals: those from industry peers and those from past and current clients. Both are useful for booking clients that are a sure fit with your brand, as those who have worked with you prior will have a good feel for your events and refer you to prospects who have a similar vision.
The question is: How do you build these referrals so you’re booking the clients that you want?
It’s not a secret that today’s couples are highly influenced by their friends and family who have already gotten married. They are more likely to listen to suggestions from a trusted friend than those from online reviews, so it’s important to make an impression on current clients so it can turn into future bookings.
Client experience is a major consideration – it’s not just about providing couples with their dream wedding, but also making the journey there as simple and enjoyable as possible.
In addition to providing quality service, it’s important to be friendly and personable. One thing that I always encourage event pros to do is to stay in touch with their couples even after the wedding ends. An easy way to do this is to send out anniversary cards, at least for the first year. Not only will it give your clients another opportunity to swoon over their wedding (and your services!), but it’ll also show them that you didn’t forget about them. Social media is another fantastic way to stay in touch, so connect with your clients while you’re working with them and stay up-to- date on their big moments.
In addition to friends and family, couples tend to weigh referrals from other vendors heavily. This is why being on a preferred vendors list can be all the difference in your business – when you come recommended by a vendor that a couple has already placed their trust in, the cards are definitely in your favor. In order to get to that point, you need to get some face time with industry pros in your local market.
Of course, the best way to build positive relationships with other event pros is simply to excel at your work and be an easy person to collaborate with in all of your events. However, it’s important to begin networking if you haven’t already – that way, you can bring a personal feel to your relationships beyond day-of communication. Attend networking events and offer your services to sponsor an event. This way, you can participate in your local market while also showing off your services to those in a place to refer your business.
When it all boils down, it really comes to two things: be professional and be active. By being your very best, your clients and industry peers will be eager to tell newly engaged couples all about your work.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.