Pricing Service Strategy: Is it time for a change?

pricing service strategyWedding professionals are often frustrated by brides and grooms don’t appreciate the value of their services. Ultimately, aside from ‘customer service,’ there are three major factors that come into play.

  • Hours of service
  • Price for product/service
  • Quality and Value of the result

One problem is traditional wedding service pricing structure. For example, DJ Entertainer and Photography pricing is quoted within the framework of ‘time in direct service with the client.’

While customary in the wedding industry, linking pricing only to face-to-face service at a wedding, or wedding and reception, drastically understates the total service time. 

A wedding couple doesn’t know how many hours it takes to prepare custom introductions, tracking drown obscure music, travel or a host of other event-specific tasks. It’s hard for the couple to understand why the price is so high (in their eyes). Hours of work at a wedding and reception are a specific measure of your effort; however, grossly incomplete. The result is more subjective. Hours of performance do not equal the value of your work.

It is not enough to show a prospect video clips of successful events and expect an instant understanding degree of difficulty. All special events have their own degree of difficulty. It’s unreasonable for your prospect to know that, going in.

If one doesn’t explain situational differences in equipment, lighting, skill level, etc., you are just hoping the prospect figures it out. Likely an unreasonable expectation.

A disc jockey, photographer, or videography service (among others) usually prices itself for a specific number of  performance hours. Travel and set up are typically not mentioned not in discussion or noted in an agreement (unless the event is outside the local market area).

What effect might occur if proposals and agreements included a ‘simple informational statement’ indicating a summary of unseen work, associated with your event service, not occurring during the reception time frame?

Effective service implementation, meeting or exceeding client expectations, includes explaining the total scope of your service, at some level.

  • Maybe this approach should become an industry-wide standard for wedding marketers?
  • What would change in the process of selling if every prospect understood you total measure of service, and its impact on a successful outcome?

I know, I’m turning wedding industry pricing and selling approach on its ear. Maybe it’s time to do that.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

The chasm between ‘Perfect’ and ‘DIY’

In the last couple of days, I have relit a firestorm in the matter of Wedding DIY. Comments on this blog, and my Facebook pages suggest a range of reactions.

Admittedly, I have a pretty narrow view. It comes from personal experience, as a vendor, as an observer, and yes, as a groom.

My perspective could be different from your perspective, but indulge me for a few minutes.

Being Unrealistic

I conclude that is as foolish to expect perfection in one’s wedding as it is to expect most DIY work to be an effective choice, particularly for an important element of the wedding.

No Do-Overs

If a DIY task fails… or if it succeeds, but becomes cumbersome, taking valuable time away from other decisions, that is unfortunate… and avoidable.

The Disservice of Wedding Media

It is important to realize the risks associated with DIY, and wedding media (TV, magazines, websites) make every project look like a walk-in-the-park. Media companies, such as The Knot have entire websites dedicated to DIY. The projected simplicity fosters unrealistic expectations from brides, wearing rose-colored glasses.

I got mine. I’m not worried about yours…

In my DJ years, I would never allow this attitude to creep into my consciousness. If my company had been hired to provide music and emcee services, and the bride would talk about having Uncle Harry shoot her wedding photos, I would have none of it.

I would put on the full court press to convince her that hiring a professional photographer was the only reasonable path. My motivation was not to drive business to one of my favorite wedding photographers. It was to make certain that the bride did not drive-into-ditch out of inexperience.

Buyers are Liars

A little phrase I learned in sales training. Buyers will often tell you what they want and don’t want… what the limits are of their budget… and then, magically, do something entirely outside their parameters. Parameters, among other things means budget... which isn’t REALLY a budget, in wedding-speak. It’s an alleged fixed allotment of money, which brides exceed by 50%, on average.

Professionals Need To Know About Their Peers

I believe, fervently, that we should know as much as possible about the nuances of other wedding professionals. Clearly, one should have passion for one’s own work, and one should be equally knowledgable about other wedding products and services, and sell their value to any bride.

Is DIY ever a good choice?

In my humble opinion… rarely! If a bride and groom truly lack the funds, then DIY may have to come into play. However, too often that’s not really the situation. Too often it’s simply a selling failure on the part of a wedding professionals. To reallocate expenses, choosing to invite fewer guests is often a better choice.

Know Your Industry and Know How To Sell

If you see a client heading into a ditch (as I like to say), don’t be a wimp. Use your extensive wedding industry knowledge and powers of persuasion to aid them and clear the fog. It’s not about the money. It’s about helping a bride and groom have a superior and memorable experience on the most important day of their life, by making better decisions, regardless of their resources.

Please chime in with your thoughts and opinions.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority

Why every wedding professional should watch ‘Say Yes To The Dress’

No buying decision in the wedding planning process is more emotional than buying a dress. For most brides, it can become a microcosm of the entire wedding planning process.

Regardless of what type of wedding business you work in, watching this program will provide some valuable lessons, from various perspectives.

The past weekend, I plunked myself down on the couch and watched a couple of episodes of Say Yes To The Dress, back to back. Like all “reality shows” there is a staged quality to it, but after a while, the participants forget the presence of cameras and give real world reactions.

It is interesting to watch the frustration of sales personnel as brides are often unclear about what they want. Seeing a dress in a magazine is different than putting one on. The facial reaction of family and friends often gums up the selling process. Sometimes the bride likes what she’s trying on, but the crinkled nose of her mother tells a different story. Other times, mom is in tears with joy, and the bride is emotionless at the her reflection in the mirror.

Selling dynamics change dramatically when you are selling to more than one person. A wedding a couple have their own dynamics. A committee of family and friends is a certified nightmare.

And, as always, it often underscores the lack of understanding of budget. Quite often what the bride expresses as her ‘budget’ is not consistent with what she envisions. Closing that gap is tough.

That aside, I noticed some selling issues after only a short time viewing the episodes. When one is selling the same product or service to the same category of client (bride), it is easy to slide into cliches, a canned series of questions, perceived insincerity or any combination thereof.

For instance:

  • Tell me about your fiancee…
  • Do you LOVE this dress?
  • You look FABULOUS
  • The dress looks AMAZING on you
  • The dress looks PERFECT on you
  • Can you picture yourself in this dress, walking down the aisle?

It’s easy to see when a sales person is completely thrown out of her game. When asked about her wedding, one bride said she would really prefer to elope. Spending huge amounts of money seemed like a big waste to her.

To me, that was refreshing. However, to a sales person, it set off all kinds of red flags. The bride was there under the duress of her mother.

The selling process should be a noble one. Helping a customer move through choices to make a decision that she is happy with, can afford, and ultimately is solid. A certain amount of buyer’s remorse can always rear its ugly head. However, if the salesperson has really helped the client, buy, rather than sold the dress to her, then a happy result is more likely.

I recommend viewing a few full episodes of the show, for the full effect. On the TLC website, you can find many video clips from show episodes.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority