To price or not to price on the website—the eternal question.
Pricing is a major deciding factor for a couple looking to book a wedding vendor. If they can’t afford your services, they aren’t a great fit. If they can, then you can charm them with your personality and employ other sales tactics to move the couple toward conversion. But talking about money is always a tricky subject, especially when you consider adding a hard and fast number to your website.
There Is No One Size Fits All
Because wedding planning is a customized endeavor, nearly no two events are the same. It’s an industry where plug-and-play isn’t the norm, and therefore pricing will vary from client to client. Yet the anxiety by couples on what and how they are paying for this major life event makes talking dollars top of mind in every initial conversation with an event professional.
“There is no one size fits all for every business in every market with every buyer,” says Sam Jacobson, head consultant at Ideaction Consulting, a sales and marketing consultancy focused on the wedding industry. “It really does depend on what it is that you want to achieve and what your business goals are.”
Focus on Communicating Your Value
Jacobson explains that typically, the more you talk about pricing, the more people will focus on it. That can be scary for a potential customer moving through the buyer’s journey. The less you talk about it, the more likely you are to steer the conversion in another direction—and the easier it is for people to move down the buyer’s journey.
The key, he says, is to think about the psychology of the interaction. For selling, the goal is to keep the couple in the automatic, quick decision-making part of their brain, where we typically make 98 percent of our decisions. Dubbed the emotional brain, this state is where a professional really shines in the process, allowing time to communicate their value, share their personality, and sell a couple on the dreamy qualities of the event.
The whole topic of pricing, though, calls to mind math and the logical part of our brains. This state is about longer, rational, and more thoughtful decisions. While pricing is a necessary discussion point, spending too much time on it will trigger the rational state and ultimately make the process a harder sell by the vendor.
“Even in the luxury segment, wedding planners will put up really high fees which scare couples, even couples who are millionaires, because they just don’t know that’s the spend on a wedding planner,” Jacobson says. “Pricing should be something that's considered but not the primary decision-making criteria.”
Qualify Your Leads (Accordingly)
Price, then, is an important tool to understand when and how to strategically employ during the sales process. It will be a major filter for leads, and it’s up to you to determine when you want that filter to hit.
For example, high-volume businesses focused on budget-conscious clients may want the price front and center, with a list of packages like a menu. This will qualify all the incoming leads from the start, saving the business time and money that would have been wasted while engaging with a potential customer with a different number in mind.
“This makes the sale easier, because, psychologically, it was a choice decided upon by the client who saw the price matched what they wanted to pay,” says Shafonne Myer, an online sales strategist for wedding vendors and publisher at Pretty Pear Bride. “You weren’t the vendor they loved, and then get the hard breaking news that you aren’t in budget.”
However, most wedding businesses have more nuance to the experience than a services menu like one you may find at the spa. Myers and Jacobson both recommend adding a price but be thoughtful how you do it.
One strategy is a “starting at” price with your minimum for your services. This gives couples a sense of the cost but not a definite price, and they remain open to a final price that may be higher, says Myers. It also limits the number of inquiries from couples who can’t afford that minimum spend.
The other is to list a range of the typically overall budget for the weddings you take on, says Jacobson, such as “we work with weddings that range from x dollars to y dollars.” He suggests listing it on the services page after you have described your value and shown your expertise.
“That bigger number for the celebration is something that couples have in mind,” Jacobson explains. “It encourages a future conversation, so that the couple and the service provider can identify what are going to be the best services for that vendor to offer, and the couple feels like they're getting an accurate price based on what they need.”
If a couple has $50,000 for a wedding, and the website says this planner works with weddings around $250,000, then the couple will quickly realize they likely aren’t a good match for one another. The couple and planner each avoids becoming emotionally invested after spending time brainstorming on design ideas and talking availability, and leading to a poor experience when they find out later that the budget isn’t on par.
“Clients know that they are going to love some vendors who just aren’t in their budget,” Myers says. “To get that information upfront without hunting for it makes their life so much easier.”
Don’t Avoid The Money Conversation
One thing not to do? Avoiding the topic all together. Couples know that they will be sold on a call with a wedding professional, so refusing to disclose any sense of cost until you spend 30 minutes on an introductory call is not a good strategy, says Jacobson. “Immediately the wall goes up and the couple gets triggered or angry,” he adds. “Be transparent with pricing but make sure you’re not focusing the conversation on it.”
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