When you go to a nice restaurant for the first time, do you expect good service? Of course you do. Do you expect the food to be good? Yes, or you wouldn’t have come there. When you sat down, did you expect there would be linen on the table, silverware, glasses, salt & pepper shakers, a napkin and maybe a centerpiece of some sort? Most likely you do. And when you sit at that table, do you give any thought to how the linen arrived at the restaurant, who put it on the table, who set the table and washed the glasses? No, you don’t. You just sit down on a chair that someone placed there and proceeded with your dinner experience.
Restaurants don’t sell the tables, chairs, linen, etc. On the surface, they sell food. In reality, they sell the experience of dining in their restaurant. An experience that you can’t or won’t get anywhere else. Chain restaurants try to create a repeatable, consistent experience, from location to location. However, even if the floorplan and décor are exactly the same, the experience will still differ. Why?
It’s the people, not the stuff
Every restaurant has a different manager, different staff and different customers. The people dining in that restaurant, at that time, will never be duplicated. I was recently in a restaurant in Orlando with some friends. The waiter was very good. The food was very good. But, there was a very large group next to us and they were very loud. That made it hard for our group of 7 to hear one another. We could go back and sit at the same table, have the same waiter, order the same dishes, and have a totally different experience. Restaurants aren’t selling food, they’re selling the unique experience of dining with them.
So, what are you selling?
Similarly, caterers and venues aren’t selling food. I think most of you will agree with that statement. So, why do so many venues and caterers have food photos all over their marketing and websites? Any talented chef can cook delicious food and make it look great. Don’t you expect that your caterer can cook delicious food? When you look at a food photo, can you tell how the service will be? Can you tell how responsive they’ll be to your inquiry? Can you tell how you’ll feel about the experience of doing business with them? No, you can’t.
Don’t sell what they expect
When I’m doing consulting and sales training, with businesses like yours, too often I see packages that list bullet point, after bullet point, of what your prospects expect to get. Professional service is expected. High quality is expected. The latest equipment is expected (I’m talking to you DJs). If I take the logo off your price page, how many other companies can fulfill the list of services in your packages? I didn’t ask how many will do them as well as you, or even better than you. How many can do everything that’s on your list? In many cases, the answer is that any good company can do everything you do.
What makes you different isn’t the bullet point list
What makes you different is the intangibles. Anyone with a credit card can buy your camera equipment, your oven, your speakers, your lights, your flowers, etc. I can buy your camera equipment, oven, etc. That doesn’t make me a professional. One definition of a professional is someone who is getting paid to provide goods and/or services. There have to be customers who value those products and services enough to pay for them. If they don’t provide a good outcome, eventually (we would hope) they will go out of business.
What separates one wedding professional from the next is the unique outcomes your couples will get if they choose you. They will only have one wedding (that day), so there’s no way to compare, side-by-side, the outcomes they will get from different wedding pros in real-time. It’s their perception of the outcomes they’ll get from you, versus those of others in your market/category, that will determine who they choose. Of course, they have to make that choice long before they get the actual results. You can help them by selling the results, instead of the services/products. In the words of Simon Sinek, sell the Why not the What.
Are you helping them check all of their boxes?
Every couple has a list of things they want from someone in your category. Some of them are tangible: food, photos, invitations, a dress, etc. Others are intangible: being responsive to their inquiry, a friendly attitude, proactively listening, suggesting new ideas, respecting their culture, respecting their budget, etc. They won’t volunteer all of the things that are important to them, but they will decide whom to choose based upon them.
Help them choose you
Instead of making yourself look like every other officiant, limo company or wedding band, create a different experience from the first impression they have of your business. Talk about the results they can expect. Talk about their guests raving about the food for weeks after their wedding. Talk about their dancefloor being packed with their closest friends and family. Talk about how, when their grandchildren (who aren’t even a thought yet) watch their wedding video, it will be like they were there, feeling the love and emotion of the day.
It’s all about them
A friend of mine, Bruce Turkel, has a great book called “All about them.” Is your website all about you, or all about your customers? Does the wording lean towards words like “I”, “we”, “me”, “us”, “our” and “mine”? Or does it lean towards “you” and “your”? Let’s face it, they don’t care what you’ve done, or how long you’ve been doing it. They can see what you did on the last few weddings. Sure, your years of experience have given you the skills to bring those results. But, what you did 5, 10 or 20 years ago isn’t of interest to them… that is unless you can explain to them how it matters to them.
Don’t hide why they should choose you
For those of you who’ve read my books, you probably already know the answer. The short answer (ok, not so short) is that your reviews, testimonials, couple’s social posts, thank you emails and notes are a treasure trove of your Why. So, don’t bury them on a “reviews” page on your website (they’re some of the least viewed pages on a website – check your Google Analytics and you’ll see). Put them on every page of your site, every marketing piece, even in correspondence.
The key is to make them short, so people will actually read them. Think of them as speed-bumps, single lines, that your prospects can read, as they scan the wording on your website and in your marketing. No one wants to read paragraphs of your love-fest. Pull out the best sound-bites, single sentences and phrases, and sprinkle them throughout your pages and marketing. Put them where people are already looking, not separated by being on dedicated pages that no one views.
Can you find my why?
An exercise I do with my mastermind day groups is to have them swap pages of their reviews with another business. Then, I give them 5 minutes to find what it’s like to do business with that other company. It’s amazing how easy it is to feel their Why. Try it for your own business, or better yet, pick a friend and do it for each other. Then, when you start to find those great phrases and sentences, add them to your webpages and marketing pieces, to help your prospects really understand what you can do for them, in the words of people that have already experienced it.
Alan Berg has been called “The Leading International Speaker and Expert on the Business of Weddings & Events”. He’s presented in 14 countries, 5 of them in Spanish, and is the wedding and event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®, and Global Speaking Fellow, one of only 36 in the world!
Alan’s 25+ years of industry experience includes publishing 2 wedding magazines, 11 years at The Knot, most as Vice President of Sales and Education, and now, as a consultant and Education Guru for WeddingWire, the leading wedding technology company. He also speaks and consults for websites in Ireland, the U.K., Australia, India and Dubai.
Alan is the author of the books “If your website was an employee, would you fire it?,” “Your Attitude for Success”, “Shut Up and Sell More Weddings & Events!”, “Why Don’t They Call Me? – 8 Tips for converting wedding & event inquiries into sales” and his latest book “Wit, Wisdom and the Business of Weddings.”