By: Janis Martinello, WPICC, DWC
Janis owns the successful wedding planning company Brocade Events, which she operates full-time. In addition to being certified by WPIC in Wedding Planning and Destination Wedding Planning, Janis has a diploma in Business Management from SAIT Polytechnic and has experience as a Manager in the corporate sector. Janis has worked with WPIC for a few years, with her former role being the WPIC Regional Representative Manager. It was her role to facilitate and manage WPIC’s “Regional Representative Program”, providing educational and professional networking opportunities for our WPIC Alumni.She has had her work featured in Weddingbells and The Wedding Ring magazines, and has been interviewed and featured in articles by The Huffington Post, Toronto Star, and Wedding Trends Magazine.
Email and Lead Management Strategies to Help You Grow Your Business
With this wedding season coming to an end, and engagement season on the horizon, now is the time to focus on some of your business strategies to increase your bookings over the next year.
Here are a few strategies that you can implement to understand and improve how well your brand sells itself during the initial contact stages with potential couples.
Do you know what your success rate is in booking your “warm” leads?
Any potential client who contacts you directly (either through your web form, phone, or email) is considered to be a “warm lead” or “doorstep lead”. These are people who have already interacted with your brand on some level, and are now reaching out to see if you might be the right planner for them.
If you use event planning software such as Aisle Planner or Planning Pod for your business, start using the Lead Management features. You can easily input all of your lead information for easy follow up, and track your closed vs. booked leads. A simple excel spreadsheet will also do the trick if you do not use event management software.
Always schedule a few minutes every week to update your leads, and follow up with any that have not responded.
About 75% of every enquiry response email we write likely has the exact same information in it. To save you time, and keep your brand image and messaging consistent, you should be working off of pre-planned templates during this time, and adjusting the remaining 25% of your messaging to speak more personally to that potential client.
Take some time to template your common email responses to increase your chances of booking that initial meeting, and turning a lead into a client. All messages should have the same visual structure, use the same fonts colours, and brand images.
Once you have these templates ready to go, you will be able to respond more quickly to a client inquiry, and with consistent brand messaging.
Your first response to an inquiry is the most important.
A potential client has reached out to you via your web contact form or email with their wedding date and maybe a few more details about their big day, or the services they may be looking for. You need to get back to them quickly (within 24 hours).
What to Include in Your First Response to a Lead:
*Points 1 & 2 will need to be customized, but the remainder of this email message can be cut-and-pasted from your template.
- The title line of the email should be personalized to the couple “Your August 2020 wedding” for example. If their enquiry message comes through your website, change the email title from “a new message from your website…” or whatever your automated email titles shows up as. You will be less likely to be filtered to spam if it does not look like you are a robot.
- Begin with a quick congratulations on their engagement, and say something personal about the wedding. If they have a location booked, say something positive about it. If you have nothing but a wedding date, talk about how lovely their photos will be during that season for example. Make them feel excited about their wedding right from the top.
- Include pricing information only if they ask in the initial message, but always keep this section general. You want to find out more about them and all of their plans, before recommending what service (and price) may be the best fit for them. It will be much easier to talk about your pricing, along with the services you offer one on one after you have built a rapport with them chatting over coffee.
- Invite them to sit down for a free initial meeting. Let them know that you would love to learn more about their big day and see if you might be a good fit for each other. Ask where they are located, and give them some availability options.
- Invite them to check out your online reviews, portfolio, or a social media page where they can find out more about you. Make sure the links are operational.
- Sign off.
If you don’t hear back within 48 hours, ALWAYS send a follow up. Make your message very short and sweet by saying something along the lines of “I am just following up on my message from yesterday regarding your August wedding just in case I got lost in cyber space, or I got filtered to spam. Let me know if you have any questions.” Never assume they have moved on unless they tell you so.
Once you hear back and work out an initial meeting day and time, prepare them for the meeting.
Things to Include in Your Initial Meeting Message:
- Confirm the day, time, and location of the meeting.
- Ask if anyone other than the couple will be in attendance so that you can secure a table with enough seats.
- Get their coffee orders (if you would like to have them on the table when they arrive).
- Tell them what to expect during the meeting. Give them a quick rundown of what will happen during the hour together.
- Ask them to write down any questions they may have ahead of time so you can address them at your meeting.
- If you have any other tasks for them (like filling out a questionnaire etc.) include it in this message.
- Let them know that you are excited to meet them.
- Sign off.
When communicating with a lead, never send a message without a next step, or action for the person to take. The more times they interact with your brand, the higher the chances of them booking with you.
Most people have never planned a wedding before. Show them that you are here to make it as stress free and easy as possible from the very beginning by communicating clearly, and showing them what you are all about before they even meet you face to face.
Keep your reviews, social media, and portfolio pages current, and let your brand sell you before you even sit down with a couple for an initial meeting.