You know that there are plenty of brides and grooms getting married out where, but where are they! I’ve been hosting a free webinar on the Wedding Planner Collective on how to find your ideal client, and now I’m sharing my best tips and practices here. Note that this is a broad overview of a few different topics – we will dive deeper into many of these concepts in other blog posts.
Shine Society members have access to worksheets and a video for this post on how to find your ideal client – not a member? Join today!
1 | Defining Your Ideal Client
Have you ever sat down and really identified who your ideal client is? Sure, there may be an unlimited number of potential clients out there, but how will you know exactly who you are looking for if you don’t actually define the characteristics of your ideal client? This first step is really important, because once you know who you’re looking for, you won’t even really need to proactively go find them. They’ll find you, and they will know that you are right for them because you are curating everything about your business to be attractive to them. Here are some characteristics that you should consider when defining your ideal client:
- Where do they live? How old are they?
- What is their personal style?
- What is their budget?
- What services are they booking you for?
- What do they value when it comes to their wedding?
- What is their wedding style?
- Where are they getting married?
- Do they have a lot of details in their wedding?
- What blogs and websites are they getting their information from?
- What types of vendors are they using?
Remember! Your ideal client is NOT the client you are working with now. These are your ideal, perfect clients that you want to work with in the future.
2 | Establishing Your Niche
It’s really surprising to me how many wedding planners don’t have an established niche – and no, “wedding planning” is not a niche in itself. For example, here is a specialty and niche: a wedding planning and design boutique specializing in luxury weddings and production in the Santa Barbara area.
Your niche is your specialty – what you focus on and what you work toward. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself when attempting to define your niche:
- What area are you in?
- What is your wedding style?
- What type of service do you specialize in?
- Do you specialize in cultural or religious weddings?
- What type of budgets do you work with most?
So, what would you consider your niche? Here are some examples:
- Month or day of coordination
- DIY weddings
- Cultural or religious weddings (i.e. Indian, Jewish, etc.)
- Destination weddings
- Elaborate installation and production
3 | Where to Find Your Ideal Client
Okay, so you’ve defined your ideal client and your niche. Now what? Where do you actually find your ideal client?
Blogs and Websites
Go back to the profile of your ideal client – where are they getting their information from? Are they using Wedding Wire to find vendors, or are they browsing Style Me Pretty for inspiration? There are technically three different ways that you can get your information in front of potential clients on websites like Wedding Wire and the Knot and blogs like Style Me Pretty and Green Wedding Shoes.
Paid advertising – these are sidebar or other advertisements which showcase your information on the website or blog itself
- Pros: It gets your information out there, front and center!
- Cons: They can be expensive and many may not pay attention to sidebar or other types of obvious advertisements.
Paid vendor network – these are paid memberships in which your information will display to users searching for services in particular areas
- Pros: Being a member of a vendor network on a blog can be awesome! You’re a part of a community of vendors and you know that the users searching for vendors in your area will see you.
- Cons: Potential clients will only be exposed to your information if they are actively searching for vendors in your area.
Accepted (unpaid) blog post feature – these are accepted submissions of real weddings or photo shoots that are published on the blog’s feed
- Pros: Having your work published on a blog is a big deal! It means that you’ve created something that the editors feel their readers would like. By seeing a blog post, they are being exposed to actual photos of your work, rather than an advertisement or text describing your services.
- Cons: Getting a feature accepted can be difficult. Often, blogs will post multiple times a day as well, which means that your feature may not be at the top of the blog page for long.
I would say that 75% of my clients come from referrals from both vendors and past clients. So, how do you solicit these referrals? By cultivating your relationships! Make sure you nurture the relationships you have with vendors that are working with your ideal client, and maybe even offer a special or discount to their clients when they book you. And make sure you stay in touch with past clients – you never know if they have friends or family members looking for a wedding planner!
*A note about commissions – accepting or offering commissions for booking clients is pretty much accepted as bad taste in the industry. Just something for you to think about.
Bridal shows are a great way to get your name and work in front of clients physically. There are a ton of different types of shows that you can be a part of, however, and some can be really expensive. The goal is, as with all of these items, to find the shows that your bride is visiting, and make an impression. Don’t feel as if you need to book anyone on the spot – you should just be trying to collect email addresses and leads. And don’t forget to make your space stand out! A beautiful space will attract potential clients, so make sure that it’s a representation of you and your style.
Local Organizations and Communities
There are some organizations, such as the Association of Bridal Consultants, that do refer out planners in their network to potential clients. I would caution you against signing up for an organization such as this purely for the leads, however. You really need to consider what type of client is reaching out to a professional organization to find a planner when there are so many other ways to find potential vendors available.
Recently a new community opened up in Santa Barbara called the Soiree | Center, and it’s been a GREAT resource for vendors all over the area. While I haven’t book anyone from this new center yet, the goal is for brides and grooms to use the space for consultations with their vendors, and our information is available for them to browse. What I love most about the Soiree | Center is that it’s local – clients in the area will be looking for a very particular type of vendor in the Santa Barbara area. Our information is also displayed on their website, which is great for those clients coming in from out of town (which is actually the majority of clients in the area).
Before you consider your options for marketing and advertising, make sure you remember where your ideal client is looking for their information!
4 | How to Use Your Website to Attract Clients
Okay, now onto the juicy bits. How are you actually attracting your ideal client? Well, your website, of course! I know it seems fairly obvious, but there are definitely a few ways that you can ensure your website really presents an accurate image of your brand and speaks to your ideal client.
Build Organic Traffic from SEO
I’m not a marketing expert (I’m sure we’ll have someone on here someday), but SEO can be HUGE for your business. Search Engine Optimization basically means that you are building up your website so that it appears in relevant results as potential clients search for certain keywords. Do some research on SEO for your website, and be sure to focus on specific keywords for your area and specialty (i.e. Santa Barbara wedding designer, day of coordination Los Angeles, etc.).
Oh, and you don’t have a blog yet? That’s an entirely other topic that I will definitely be talking about another time (BECAUSE YOU NEED A BLOG), but blogging is really important for SEO. Google is constantly indexing your site, which means that you want to constantly be updating it. And by having a blog with keyword rich descriptions and content, more people will be likely to land on your website when searching!
Speak to Your Ideal Client by Showcasing Your Style
One thing that I find many wedding planners tend to do is include everything in their portfolio. If you really have a niche and an ideal client, you shouldn’t be doing this! You should be curating your portfolio to only include the items that best represent your specialty and that will speak to your ideal client.
Your website should be a reflection of your niche and your aesthetic. Everything from the branding (your logo, styling, etc.) to the copy (how you describe your services) and your photos should reflect this.
Make it Easy to Find and Contact You!
Guys, would you even believe how often I see vendors that don’t include their location on their website? It’s true! Where you are located should be ALL over the place – even on the homepage, if possible! Make your contact page easy to find (with your location, of course) – and while contact forms are great, try to include an actual email address, along with links to your social media sites.
Sell Your Services – They Don’t Know What They Want!
Think about it this way – most people only get married once in their lives. They don’t know how to plan a wedding! That’s what they have you for. Your services page is your opportunity to show that you know what you are talking about, and that includes building interest in your services. I prefer to keep description of services at a minimum – you can give a detailed list of what is included in your packages at a consultation. Instead, describe what your services include and why you are different. For example:
Our month of coordination services are tailored for the bride and groom that have all the big things figured out, but need help pulling it all together. We will work with you during the month prior to your wedding to ensure that all details are confirmed. That way all you need to worry about on your wedding day is getting married! We will take care of the rest.
Using a description of your services rather than a bulleted list prevents people from “shopping around” – they may unfairly compare your services to another planner’s services when they don’t actually understand what all is included in your package.
Using Social Media to Help Clients Find You
Oh, you’re not on Pinterest yet? You best get to that! Pinterest is your platform for curating and developing your aesthetic. Some things to consider when pinning images to Pinterest:
- YOU SHOULD BE PINNING OFTEN AND CONSISTENTLY! People are using Pinterest more than Google these days as a search engine for images, and you want to make sure that you are represented!
- Make sure to pin images directly from your website or blog, and include a detailed description of exactly what the image contains (especially useful if you include the wedding venue in the description). This way, other pinners that search for images such as yours are brought back to your site.
- Create cohesiveness within your boards by only pinning images that fit your aesthetic and style. True story – I’ve actually gotten clients that have said they saw my Pinterest feed and just knew that I was the right planner for them!
- Only pin from original sources that contain credits for the vendors in the image. It’s just good karma.
Many confuse the purpose of Instagram with that of Pinterest. The reality is, while Pinterest is a way for you to cultivate and showcase your taste, your Instagram feed should be a visual representation of your brand, work, and life. When sharing images on Instagram:
- Try to only share your work on Instagram. Many planners and vendors think it is okay to share work that doesn’t belong to them on Instagram, but this can be misleading to your followers and potential clients. Even if you credit the blog and/or photographer, it can be easy to think that you were a part of the team that created the image. Not a great way to start a relationship with a client!
- Your feed is more important than your individual images. When someone stumbles upon your Instagram feed, they are really only going to be looking at your profile photo, description, and the first six to nine photos in your feed. Keep them consistent in style!
- Don’t edit photos that don’t belong to you. This is a big no-no in the wedding community – and it’s very disrespectful to photographers! Also, be sure to credit the vendors that participated in the creation of the image.
- Consider what your mission is when sharing photos to Instagram. Do you want to share bits and pieces of your life? Or are you mainly sharing a beautiful representation of your work?
- Use hashtags to help clients find you! You should especially be using hashtags for your area or venue (i.e. #santabarbarawedding, #losangelesweddingplanner, etc.).
Oh, Facebook. Not many actually enjoy the original social network anymore, but it’s definitely necessary for your business. Facebook is a great way to engage with people and there are useful advertising opportunities through the site. Some things to remember about Facebook:
- While it seems unfair to have to pay to reach the audience that already likes your page, boosting an important post, such as special or blog feature, for a few dollars can really increase the number of potential clients that see your post.
- In your Facebook cover photo, you have the option to include a Click to Action (Learn More, Book Now, etc.). These are great because they give your audience a tangible thing that they can do to engage with you.
- Facebook should be an avenue for you to share anything that relates to your business – from blog posts to your Pinterest page to your Instagram photos. Consider it a single place where you can promote your other networks as well as your services.
Once again, many of these topics are just brushing the surface on how to find your ideal client and I will be sharing more (hopefully with some marketing experts) in the future. Until then, happy planning!