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.
The past year has been an absolute roller coaster for wedding businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Weddings have been canceled, postponed, and put on hold indefinitely which has cost wedding professionals a lot in lost revenue. But what if I told you that COVID actually had a little gift for you as we’re getting toward the end of the pandemic? What if you could embrace the current situation and use it to book more weddings?
Urgency is time-related pressure to do something. The impending deadline of your partner’s birthday or Christmas service is a psychological trigger that compels you to act and finally buy those gifts you’ve been meaning to buy for weeks. Urgency is a psychological trigger that is deeply rooted inside our brain and it directly relates to loss aversion or FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). When faced with urgency, you have to evaluate how comfortable you are letting an opportunity to get something you want, save money, or look like a good partner/loved one in the case of buying gifts last minute, slip away.
Loss aversion is a powerful psychological phenomenon. There have been countless studies that show that we feel losses more than gains. It is thought that the pain of losing is psychologically about twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining and people are more willing to take risks to avoid a loss than to experience a gain. You’ve seen this in action in game shows where the contestant has to decide if they want to walk away with what they have or risk it to potentially win more.
Scarcity is related to the availability of something. If for instance, there are only 100 of an item or there are only 3 of an item left in stock, we’re much more likely to act. We put higher value on things that are scarce or rare and are willing to pay more for them. I’m sure you’ve had the feeling of having to rush to buy something whether it’s a new phone or concert tickets or a plane ticket because you’re afraid the supply will run out and you’ll miss out. We are hard-wired to not want to miss out. That’s why FOMO is so powerful!
Urgency and scarcity are powerful psychological triggers to use in your marketing but they have to be used ethically. Many companies use urgency and scarcity in a slimy way and it’s just off-putting. You’re welcome to set a deadline for a promotion you’re running but you should never lie about the urgency or scarcity. I’ve seen many digital products that claim there are “only 2 left in stock” which is total bullshit because it’s a digital product. There is no stock for a digital product.
So how can you tap into the natural urgency and scarcity that COVID has created to book more weddings?
As a small business owner, there is always scarcity in the number of people you can work with in a given year but COVID has really amplified that to an extreme. How much of your 2021 calendar is booked up with weddings that were originally planned for 2020? What about your 2022 calendar? The 2021 and 2022 wedding seasons have much less availability than they would in a normal year and you can harness that to book more weddings. Here are some very simple ways you can use this scarcity and urgency to book more weddings!
1. Create An Availability Calendar
Instead of telling your potential clients what your availability is like, let them peruse it for themselves. Not only does this eliminate back-and-forth emails about dates, but it also shows them that you’re in demand which increases their perceived value of your work. Wedding officiant Marie Burns Holzer has created a page where couples can see her availability on a simple calendar before the inquire.
This calendar shows that Marie is in demand and that couples need to act fast if they want to book her. Below the calendar, she has her inquiry form as step 2 in the process after checking availability. Not only do they see that their date is available, but they also see all of the dates that have already been booked which creates a huge incentive for them to inquire and book now instead of a month or two from now. This simple, free embedded Google Calendar does a lot of psychological heavy lifting and prevents Marie from getting inquiries for dates that she no longer has available.
2. Post About Your Availability On Social Media
Do a straight-up availability-focused post once a month depending on the season. Doing this will help get lurkers off the fence and into action because, let’s be honest, people don’t do anything until they absolutely have to. If they’ve been thinking about booking you and find out you only have 1 date left in the month they want to get married, they’re going to act so they don’t miss out!
This post by Amanda Shuman of Carrylove Designs does an excellent job of conveying genuine scarcity and urgency. She also uses the caption of the post to answer frequently asked questions that her potential clients have. In a single Instagram post, Amanda’s followers can see how in demand she is, get their frequently asked questions answered, find out how to book her, how much their deposit will be, and how scarce her availability is. That’s a pretty heavy-hitting Instagram post!
3. Mention Your Availability More Subtlely
Not every social media mention of your availability needs to be super obvious. You can weave these mentions into your posts in a more subtle way by mentioning them in the caption. Here is an Instagram post from wedding planner Kay Northrup that does a great job of this as well as highlighting why this is a benefit for her clients.
Don’t just do this once and then never again. Use scarcity and urgency like this in your social media posts on a regular basis to keep your followers updated on your availability and to help them get off the fence and actually inquire and book you.
4. Add A Hello Bar To Your Website
A simple hello bar on your website with something like “We are 85% booked for 2021 and 50% booked for 2022. Click here to book your date before someone else does!” can move people from browsing into actually submitting an inquiry and booking you. Most couples don’t realize you’re already so booked and by letting them know, you’re doing them a favor so they don’t miss out. You’ve likely seen companies using a hello bar to promote the urgency of a sale or asking you to sign up to their email list but they can be used in all sorts of different ways.
You can use a tool like Sumo or HelloBar to create this handy little bar for your website.
5. Email Your Email List With Your Availability
Do you have an email list of potential clients that you’re nurturing? If not, you definitely should! Your regular emails to this list are the perfect place to mention your rapidly decreasing availability. Tell them what you have available or direct them to your calendar and encourage them to book their date. This should be a regular feature in your emails to your list.
6. Remind Inquiries About Your Availability & Policy On Holding Dates
When someone inquiries, reinforce their decision by saying something like “Great news! That’s the last August date I have available.” so they realize how in-demand you are. The feeling of being able to get the last of anything cuts it a little too close for the way our brains like to operate when it comes to scarcity and it makes people act faster. That means you should be able to book these remaining dates faster and easier.
Of course, remind your new lead about your policy on holding dates. How long do they have to book before you release that date? Pairing this with the limited availability creates a blend of urgency and scarcity that gets people off of their butts and into action. Remember, we don’t tend to make decisions until we have to and we’ll sit with them forever if we’re allowed to. That’s not good for you as a business owner or for your potential client. By adding genuine scarcity and urgency, you’re helping them to make a decision either way.
The COVID pandemic has been awful, that’s just a fact, but at least you can use the genuine scarcity and urgency that it has created to help you book more weddings easier and faster. This isn’t just a COVID-specific tactic either.
You can use genuine scarcity and urgency in your marketing at any time. These 2 powerful psychological triggers can be found in just about all marketing across any industry and for good reason, they work! When used in a genuine, ethical way, scarcity and urgency are valuable marketing tools that can help you book more weddings and they can also help people who are interested in working with you find the motivation to stop thinking about it and actually inquire.
How will you use post-COVID scarcity and urgency to book more weddings? DM me here on Instagram and let me know!