The U.S. wedding industry is worth $125 billion – a fact that may not surprise you if you know anyone who has planned a wedding recently. With my impending nuptials approaching next fall, I’ve seen enough high prices to consider eloping or finding a job in the wedding business. If you’re interested in getting a piece of this industry’s pie, there are several things to keep in mind.
While the industry as a whole represents a lot of revenue, the market is broken down into many small sectors: caterers, consultants, dress shops, florists, photographers, and on and on. Generally, these businesses are small and privately owned; they’re typically reaching out to local customers and relying on positive word-of-mouth to generate new clients. Wedding vendors are likely to exhibit at bridal expos, and they continually meet with potential clients. Most importantly, they are always on the lookout for ways to get their names out there.
These companies can be great to work with, though their advertising budgets may not be so agreeable. Before you let this turn you off, consider that your assistance could turn their marketing around, saving them thousands on local bridal magazine ads and offering them the proven results of promotional products. In the process, as you establish your business worth, you’ll benefit from gaining a bigger piece of their budget.
When it comes to promotional products, wedding photographers – for example – look initially for inexpensive products that will make the biggest splash. A photographer will want to stand out among the other vendors at bridal expos, says Bronson Pate, a wedding photographer in San Diego. “Most people there are going to see 40 [other photographers], and you try to make the flashiest thing as cheaply as possible so they’ll kind of remember you,” he explains.
As with any other trade show, bridal expo giveaways need to resonate with attendees. Pate remembers promotional Frisbees being a big hit at a recent expo he attended. He also likes the idea of handing out carabineers, as they almost always find their way to conspicuous places such as key chains.
Let’s face it, brides control the majority of wedding decisions, so more often than not, wedding-related promotional products can be targeted to women. Pate estimates that for at least 20 percent of his clients, he meets with the bride. For his remaining clients, he usually meets with the bride initially, and then the couple together. You’re also primarily dealing with clients in their 20s and early-30s, so products can be unconventional and trendier.
Consider what she may find most useful at this hectic stage. Journals or planners, for example, are something the end user would likely purchase anyway, and are almost guaranteed to be used. Photo albums are also appropriate, especially those celebrating a bridal shower or bachelorette party. An expo exhibitor could use a Polaroid to get a photo of groups who stop for more information, then give that photo to the group in a frame with his or her businesses’ logo and contact information.
“At expos and stuff like that, you just try to minimize your costs,” Pate shares. “When we have a qualified lead – when there’s somebody who’s coming in to meet with us – then we can load them up with the more expensive stuff.”
For these great prospect visits, the “more expensive stuff” includes items such as flash drives preloaded with photos and work samples. The most common promotional product photographers will give out is something on which they can showcase their work. A flash drive or DVD can be loaded up with a slideshow of their best pictures, as well as postcards that are bound into booklets. A photo and the company’s logo can also be printed on a mouse pad, which is a product Pate would like to give away in the future.
One last thing to consider is working with event planners. Wedding coordinators handle many of the details for a couple’s big day, and tend to work on higher-budget events. Often, their fee is a percent of the wedding’s total budget, meaning up-sales are always a possibility. Wedding planners may be in the market for guest favors, personalized napkins, place-card holders and a variety of other items. Once you establish a solid relationship with an event planner, you can count on as many as five to 10 orders for every event he or she coordinates; and that can mean big profits.
When you market to clients in the wedding industry, keep in mind that many of them don’t limit their business to just the wedding industry. Their clientele may not always be looking for the romantic or elegant, but they will most likely always be planning an event. One thing you can look forward to is the fact that the end users are in the middle of planning a fun day – sometimes one of the most important days of their lives. The good vibes will hopefully find their way back to you.
This article was written by Lacey Nadeau for Corporate Logo Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
Lacey Nadeau, the soon-to-be Mrs. Fox, is planning a San Diego wedding from her home in Tempe, Ariz. She is the managing editor of Church Solutions magazine.