Some people call me an OG of wedding business marketing, but deep down I'm just another person wearing PJ bottoms on Zoom. I swear a lot, I share my struggles, and I don't pretend to be better than anyone else.
Imagine if you could book 100% of the ideal clients that came through your inquiry workflow. How amazing would that be? That’s exactly what this florist has done in her business!
Do you ever wish you could take a peek behind the scenes of a successful wedding business and see how they’re doing things? Wouldn’t it be helpful to get the lowdown on what’s working for them and what isn’t? That’s what this episode is all about!
Come take a look behind the scenes of Bloom Poet with wedding and floral designer Carolyn Kulb. She breaks down how she got started and got her first clients, how she has gotten to a point where she books 100% of her ideal clients that go through her inquiry process that’s designed to weed out the not-so-ideal ones, and some really interesting changes she’s made over the years.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a wedding floral designer or another type of wedding professional, you’ll come away from this episode with some ideas you can implement in your own business.
In this episode we’ll cover:
Carolyn Kulb is the owner and lead artist of Bloom Poet, a full-service floral and event design studio in Seattle, Washington. Carolyn’s business targets couples who are ready to create a meaningful and breathtaking experience for their wedding. They know they want to make a big impression but just don’t know how to do it.
Carolyn is a member of Slow Flowers which is a society of florists trying to do better when it comes to sustainability. They prioritize American-grown flowers and minimize waste and environmental impact. Carolyn never uses floral foam because it’s a microplastic. All of the structural pieces of her work can be washed and reused.
Sustainability is really important to Carolyn and she’s been able to build a business that allows her to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable. That takes more time and can cost more but it’s important to her and her clients so it’s worth it.
Carolyn spent a long time in the public health world and thankfully got out before COVID happened. She spent years traveling to different countries and meeting with ministries of health and she loved exploring the local art.
She wound up in farm school and got really interested in farming flowers and she accidentally became a wedding designer because people came to her for it. An injury and a series of other events led her to focus just on weddings. Her job now brings together all of her project management skills, her growing expertise, and the cultural and artistic things she loves.
Carolyn’s friends and friends of friends were her first clients when she was growing flowers. She did a lot of freelancing, workshops, and other intentional learning experiences to learn how to do wedding work specifically.
Like many wedding pros, Carolyn was paying to advertise on some popular wedding listing websites but found that it wasn’t a good return on investment for her. She did get some clients that way but not enough to continue paying.
Carolyn made a point to focus on her SEO and she’s climbed the ranks by optimizing pages on her website and by creating blog posts that bring people to her site. She doesn’t enjoy Instagram but it is a consistent source of leads for her. She doesn’t spend a ton of time on Instagram but it still really pays off for her.
The most powerful thing for her has been word of mouth and getting referrals from venues, vendors, and past clients alike. She built relationships with venues and vendors in some interesting ways.
In 2020, she had a whole crop of flowers that was going to just be composted because no one was getting married so she did some styled shoots with other vendors and venues. Those styled shoots have built really solid relationships because everyone was in the same boat at that time.
Now, Carolyn builds relationships by reaching out to people to do something together like a styled shoot or just have a coffee date to get to know one another. She goes into these relationships looking for ways to help, even if that means connecting them to a different florist who will be a better fit.
Carolyn continues to get qualified leads from blogging, Instagram, and SEO, but networking has had the best return on investment. She loves the leads she gets from referrals because they’re coming from someone that knows the kind of work that Bloom Poet can do and they’ve experienced the transformation themselves.
The best people come from those referrals because they’ve already vetted those people in a way. They refer clients to Carolyn because they think Bloom Poet will be the best fit for them. It makes it really easy to have a sales conversation with someone who has already decided that they definitely want to work with you.
Carolyn doesn’t put all of her eggs in that basket though because she gets leads from all of her marketing efforts and it’s dangerous to only have one source of leads. She has also tested to see what works for her and her ideal clients.
She says “Don’t just do something because somebody else is doing it.” and I agree wholeheartedly. That’s no way to make a marketing plan. You don’t have to do everything and you don’t have to do things you see others do. You just have to figure out what works for you and your ideal clients. That’s something Carolyn learned in The Wedding Business Collective.
Carolyn pointed out that her Instagram feed is full of things she has repurposed and reposted and she doesn’t like to spend a lot of time on Instagram. She doesn’t like Instagram and that’s okay, it still gives her leads because she’s using it strategically. You don’t have to spend a ton of time on any marketing platform to make it work for you.
She has noticed that people tend to obsess about the number of leads they get without considering the quality of those leads. Getting fewer leads that are high-quality is less work, makes selling easier, and creates better clients.
Her high-quality leads come from referrals because they already know what to expect and how much it’s going to cost. It takes more work to convert leads from Instagram or Facebook than it does from a referral because those leads are at different stages of the customer journey.
High-quality leads who come in knowing what to expect are HOT and ready to book. That’s just not the case for someone who has just stumbled upon your Instagram profile so you have to treat them differently.
Carolyn has gotten her lead qualification refined so that only those who are a perfect fit wind up inquiring. Once she sends a proposal, her booking rate is 100% for a 5-figure service! That’s only possible when you carefully craft your inquiry process so that it eliminates the not-perfect leads for you.
Carolyn has been working on refining her inquiry process for 2 years and it took a lot of time and experimentation to get away from ghosting and finally get to this amazing position she’s in. She still gets ghosted but it’s the automated stuff that’s getting ghosted, not her consultation or proposal. That’s fine because it sifts out the people who aren’t right for her.
Once Carolyn gets a lead, she sends them a brochure with her services, pricing, what you can expect, how Bloom Poet works, and the level of support you get. Within 2 business days, she sends this lead a personal welcome video showing her excitement to learn more about them and their wedding.
They then go through a nurture email sequence. The first email asks them about their love story and shares Carolyn and her husband’s story. Then, she invites them to schedule a 20-minute call to discuss their vision and their budget. At that point, Carolyn can tell how good of a fit they’ll be for Bloom Poet and she sends them a questionnaire if they’re a good fit. This gives her all the information she needs to create a proposal.
She sends a floral palette to show the lead what she thinks will be best for them and how it might look to provide some inspiration. They walk through this together on another call to get feedback and adjust the budget accordingly. She goes through this whole process before asking them to book.
Her customer journey is all about “how can we serve you best?” and every step of the process reflects that. That means that even if they’re not a good fit, she can be honest with them and possibly refer them to someone else.
Normally I’d say this is doing a LOT of work before booking the client but Carolyn is booking 100% of the people she takes through this process. If it were closing at 70% it’d still be time well spent. This process is powerful because it builds a relationship with the client before she even asks for a deposit. But as Carolyn said before, don’t just do something because someone else is doing it. You have to experiment and figure out what works for you.
Carolyn only invests this level of time and energy into people she believes are great fits for her business and she’s on the higher end price-wise so it works out. The moment she determines someone isn’t a good fit she refers them or tells them that and lets them go.
She was scared to communicate her minimum and make people jump through these hoops but she runs a higher-end business so it was necessary. Communicating your value is more than just the price. Bloom Poet provides a transformation and not everyone wants that – and that’s okay!
Carolyn is no longer growing flowers and doing weddings because it would require too much time or a huge team. A farm and a wedding business are both a lot of work and combining them is a recipe for working crazy hours.
She’s always looking for ways to improve sustainability and she was able to find compostable corsage and boutonniere boxes that biodegrade in 30 days. Bloom Poet doesn’t pay for much marketing any longer. Carolyn spends money on a styled shoot once a year and she’s willing to invest in that if there is a venue or planner she really wants to build a relationship with. Coffee dates with other vendors are part of her marketing budget as well.
She’s trying to be a better CEO which is something The Wedding Business Collective and Wedding Business CEO Summit have helped her with. She’s got a great roster of people that can help her with weddings and she’s looking for a new space so she can hire more help.
Bloom Poet recently rebranded and totally changed its website, packages, and services. Carolyn used to offer standard packages and now she only does in-person floral design and destination weddings. During COVID she was selling in a more retail-based way but has discontinued that.
Carolyn uses Monday as her CEO Date each week. She’s been doing it weekly for over a year since learning how to do it from The Wedding Business Collective. She reviews her finances, metrics, and plans every Monday.
She takes some time to plan the rest of her week each Monday which is something I highly recommend! Looking at everything you need to get done this week and where you can fit other things in helps you to actually get it all done and avoid overwhelming yourself.
Tuesdays are Carolyn’s marketing day whenever possible. She batches blog posts, Instagram posts, meetings with vendors, and any other marketing tasks on that day. The rest of the week is floral design and weddings or admin depending on whether she has a wedding that weekend or not. She has also set goals for herself for taking time off. This is so overlooked by most wedding pros!
Carolyn participates in our Quarterly Planning Sessions in The Wedding Business Collective and plans out her 30, 60, and 90 day goals so she knows what to focus on and what has to wait until later. Something will always try to eat your time if you don’t take control of it and planning this way ensures you’re the one in control.
Obviously COVID was a huge challenge for all of us and Carolyn had the additional challenge of breaking her arm in 2 places so she was unable to farm any longer. That messed up her plans because she had a farm lease and still has a shipping container that she needs to sell. She was a farmer and then all of a sudden she wasn’t.
She’s been able to tap into her relationships with other farmers to get the flowers she needs so it has worked out well but it understandably threw her for a loop. 2022 is the first year she feels like she’s doing well. I’m glad she brought that up because we all have that self-doubt hanging over our heads.
Even though there was a global pandemic, she broke her arm, and was diagnosed with a hormonal illness that totally wiped her energy out, she still felt like she wasn’t trying hard enough or doing enough. Self-doubt knows no logic.
There are so many things out of our control and we’re so quick to stop trusting what we’ve already done to keep things running. We don’t control when people are shopping for their wedding vendors, what their budgets are, what their expectations are, let alone a pandemic, an illness, or an injury. You have to trust that this isn’t a “you problem”, it’s just a problem. Don’t blame yourself for what you can’t control.
There was a time when Carolyn came to me in The Wedding Business Collective and laid out her plan to run a farming business and a wedding business and asked how to manage her time. My answer was “you can’t” because it’s too much. You can’t time manage your way out of being over capacity.
When we start our businesses, we aren’t able to afford help right away in many cases. The solution to that isn’t to work 80 hours per week. The solution is to be really intentional about what you choose to spend your time on. You have to pick and choose. Working harder doesn’t fix the existence of time.
Carolyn knows what to spend her precious time on because she knows what’s working for her and what isn’t. This is something that comes up all the time inside The Wedding Business Collective. We tend to try to spend a ton of time on things that aren’t working to “fix” them and ignore the things that are working that we could easily improve and get more from.
Getting really intentional about the things that bring you joy and the things that work for you is crucial and it’s not the same for everybody.
It’s so easy to feel like you’re not enough all the time in business. Simply existing as who you are today in your business is enough. You don’t have to work crazy hours to be enough. Nothing about your business detracts from the fact that you are a perfectly worthy, amazing human being. Your business isn’t you.
If things aren’t going your way in your business and you’re not hitting your goals, that doesn’t mean anything about you as a person. It tells you nothing about your skill or talent. It just tells you about what’s not working in your business.
It’s so easy to blame yourself for everything in your business despite glaringly obvious external circumstances. Your business is just your business, it’s not you.
You will fail and as a result of that, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t work for you. That means nothing about you. You are not a “failure” because of that.
Internalizing this doesn’t help you and isn’t productive. It serves no purpose other than to make you feel shitty.
Tying your identity to your business is toxic. You have to learn how to experiment with things and learn what works and what doesn’t work without judging yourself.
Carolyn has adopted a very healthy mindset around this and decided to try to get to the bottom of why she lost a sale she really wanted. She offered to buy the person coffee and asked questions about what went wrong so she could improve. She got a lot of valuable insight from that and was able to improve.
Carolyn is working on moving into a larger space so she can expand her team. It went from a big-picture someday goal to one that’s much more immediate. She’s also training someone to be her right-hand person in the business and wants to eventually hire her as a full-time employee.
Carolyn also wants to create a passive income stream that doesn’t require her to physically be at a wedding. She’s looking for other creative communities to be a part of so she can meet more creative people and collaborate with them. She also is focusing on structuring the business that allows her to achieve her personal goals.
Carolyn Kulb is the founder and lead artist of Bloom Poet—a full-service wedding florist and event design company based in Seattle, Washington. Bloom Poet serves couples ready to create a meaningful and breathtaking experience for their wedding day. Carolyn helps couples dream big, embrace new ideas, and look to nature and their wedding destination for inspiration.
Carolyn’s design work has been featured in national publications such as Flower Magazine, Aisle Society, Well Wedded Magazine, Trends Magazine, and Houzz.com. She has been invited to design, teach, and present across the country, including the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, the Slow Flowers Podcast, and American Flowers Week.
Carolyn believes that floral design is an art form, meant to tell the stories of our love. Carolyn wed her college sweetheart 12 years ago so they could serve in the Peace Corps together in Africa. After living in four countries and traveling in many more, Carolyn continues to draw upon multicultural art, architecture, and design influences in the way she crafts experiences for couples. She believes that in our culture, flowers are used to signify our most universal human experiences, and to tell our stories in ways that words cannot. This confluence of art, exploring cultural traditions, and helping people celebrate their milestones is what brought Carolyn to floral design years ago – and why she continues to love doing it.
In her free time, you can find Carolyn cuddling with her senior kitty, plotting where to travel next, tending her flower garden, writing music, and learning Italian.
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Episode 227: What 4 Wedding Pros Have Gotten Out Of The Wedding Business Collective
Episode 183: Time Batching For Wedding Pros: Maximum Productivity & Minimum Stress
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