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.
Do you ever wish you could take a peek behind the scenes of a successful wedding business and see exactly what makes it successful? Would it make it easier for you to know what has worked and what hasn’t worked for 3 successful wedding pros?
Where are they getting their clients? How are they standing out from their competition? How are they managing their time? What works for them and what doesn’t? How are they running their business so they aren’t working 60-hour weeks? How do they stay focused and out of overwhelm?
During the Open House for my membership, The Wedding Business Collective, I invited 3 members to join me for a panel where we discussed all of these things and a whole lot more. It was too valuable not to share outside of the Open House so, in this podcast, you’ll get a peek behind the curtain and see how they’ve grown, where they’ve stumbled, and what you can take away and apply to your own business. You’ll see what I mean when you listen, this conversation is full of gold nuggets!
In this episode we’ll cover:
Rev. Erin Goodman is a wedding officiant and interfaith minister in Rhode Island. Last year she ran herself ragged and decided it was time to do something to make the business more sustainable and profitable. Between growing her business, working a day job in health care, and taking care of 2 teens it all became too much. That’s when she joined The Wedding Business Collective.
Neal McFarlane is a wedding and event DJ in Toronto specializing in events for people with varied cultural backgrounds. Neal has been doing this 36 years and he’s a big proponent of continuing to educate yourself and always be networking. That’s a big part of why he’s in The Wedding Business Collective.
Rev. Mercedes (aka Mercy) Ibarra is a wedding officiant and interfaith minister in Los Angeles. She joined The Wedding Business Collective because she needed help figuring out how to turn this into a business. She’s a professional flamenco dancer and teacher as well as an officiant to making sure her business is sustainable is crucial.
Erin has been an officiant for quite some time and always had a full time job. She was recently starting to feel like The Wedding Business Collective was moving faster than she could because of her other responsibilities and we worked together to find a solution.
That solution is a short new course inside The Wedding Business Collective called Making Progress Even When You’re Busy. This course allowed her to get back into feeling in control of what she’s doing and not like she’s falling behind. She’s now focused on the most important things for her business right now and doesn’t feel overwhelmed any longer.
Because The Wedding Business Collective is a membership, it allows for growth. When a member has a problem or is struggling like Erin was, I can create a solution. The membership is always growing to meet the needs of the members as opposed to a static course. I went back and forth with Erin to make sure I really understand the problem and was able to create a solution for her and other members like her in a week. That’s not something you get in a course.
Erin’s mindset has changed now that she’s looking at running her business in a sustainable way that doesn’t burn her out. She recently had 2 weddings and 2 funerals in a single week and instead of trying to jam everything in, she used some of her paid time off to give her space to be able to easily and calmly serve her clients.
Neal is currently in a phase of transition in his business. After being a solo entrepreneur for decades, he has decided he wants to be able to double or triple book dates and take bookings on dates where he doesn’t work at all by hiring associate DJs.
He has been bringing on associate DJs and training them on his way of doing things so they can work events under his brand. This has allowed Neal to spend more time away from the business and more time in the CEO role. The Wedding Business Collective has helped Neal create more structure in his day so he isn’t working crazy hours. He has better boundaries and better time management so he’s able to finish work at a set time and truly disconnect from the business and relax. He’s been able to escape the hamster wheel and have more time for himself.
Mercy is currently in phase 2 of The 6 Figure Wedding Business Roadmap inside The Wedding Business Collective. She’s nailed down her marketing and she’s attracting the clients she wants to work with. Now she has transitioned into working on time management by digging into our Your Most Productive Week Ever course. She’s learned that things take longer than she thought they do now that she’s actually tracking her time! That allows her to better use her time and not constantly feel like she’s not getting enough done.
Mercy applied for WeddingPro’s Fellowship For Change and started working with Aleya Harris through that program. She worked with Aleya to figure out her StoryBrand designed around her ideal clients, a young Latino couple that isn’t religious but they come from traditional religious families. This ideal client wants someone to create a ceremony that honors their own spirituality while honoring their cultural traditions.
She discovered that this was her ideal client by identifying her favorite clients and interviewing them, a process all members of The Wedding Business Collective go through to create a marketing plan tailored to their ideal clients. She built her messaging and marketing around this ideal client and she has been regularly attracting them ever since. It even appealed to people that were a bit outside of her normal ideal client that wanted what Mercy specializes in.
That’s the power of positioning yourself as the go-to person for your ideal client!
Erin has focused on serving the spiritual but not religious couples in a predominantly Catholic area. Her couples may be a bit anxious and they absolutely love that Erin is both an interfaith minister and a yoga teacher because she is able to put them at ease and they tell her this is something that was really important to them in choosing their officiant.
Just like Mercy, Erin discovered that this was her ideal client by identifying her favorite clients, reviewing what they said about her, and interviewing them. She was booking up and noticed that she was getting a lot of referrals from planners, venues, and other vendors. Erin spent time reviewing her Instagram to make sure she was making it super obvious who she was for and how she was unique. This has been important not just for attracting clients directly but also for getting referrals because she more referrable than ever.
After realizing that many of her bookings come from referrals, Erin leaned into that and looked for ways to cultivate those relationships. A lot of people neglect the things that are working but by focusing on how you can improve something that is already working, you can get event better results without a ton of extra effort. This is something we talk about a lot inside The Wedding Business Collective and I encourage members to do more of what is working and less of what isn’t in our Quarterly Planning Sessions.
Instead of trying to do all the things, be like Erin! Build your marketing plan around what is working so you can get even more out of that and then layer on the things that you want to experiment with and improve upon. That’s easier said than done so we show you exactly how to do it inside the Create Your Overwhelm-Squashing Marketing Plan course inside The Wedding Business Collective. It’s the first course you’ll go through when you join.
Erin also learned how to repurpose content from our Blogging & Repurposing Content Made Simple course inside The Wedding Business Collective and it has made her marketing so much easier and sustainable. She is no longer on the content creation hamster wheel and feeling like she always has to come up with something new for her marketing.
I’ve been working with wedding pros for the past 10 years and I get asked time and time again, “Should I advertise on WeddingWire or The Knot?” and “Should I spend more time on Pinterest” and the answer is, it depends. It entirely depends on your ideal client and your marketing plan as you’ll learn from Neal, Erin, and Mercy. All of their marketing is different because it really does depend entirely on who you’re trying to attract, what works for you, and what your market is like.
Neal has found a lot of success with advertising on WeddingWire. It makes up 55-65% of all of his leads and it has been solid for years. That doesn’t mean that you should advertise on WeddingWire or The Knot though. It depends on your business, your market, and your ideal client. Plenty of other members of The Wedding Business Collective haven’t gotten a thing out of WeddingWire. There is no silver bullet.
Neal also gets a lot of leads from Instagram and he has put a lot of focus into showcasing the types of people he works with and what he can do for them. Instagram provides 25%-30% of his leads currently. It has been invaluable for him to be able to focus on just 2 or 3 things for his marketing as opposed to trying to do 30 different things. This saves him time and energy and it creates ease in his business. Spreading yourself too thin doesn’t work well for anyone.
Your marketing plan will differ from Erin’s and Mercy’s and Neal’s because your ideal client is different. If every single one of your favorite clients tells you they hate Pinterest and never looked at it for wedding inspiration, you shouldn’t waste your time there.
This is why when you join The Wedding Business Collective, you’ll start with the Create Your Overwhelm-Squashing Marketing Plan course and dive into getting to know your ideal client better. It’s the foundation of marketing that works!
While we’re all about doing more of what works, there is a lot to be said for experimentation in your marketing. You never know when you’ll find your next favorite way to reach your ideal clients.
Neal will start experimenting with short form video as he builds up content from events this year. Mercy will be starting either a podcast or a YouTube channel. She’s using her time off from teaching flamenco this summer to get start together. She wants to try TikTok but has been reticent.
Erin has been watching some of the members in The Wedding Business Collective who are creating other revenue streams outside of their typical service and she wants to experiment with creating her own. She also wants to create something that supports her vendor community like a gathering or a retreat.
Erin is spending an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening 3-4 days per week and on the weekends she usually has an event. That means she puts a pin in things she wants to do so she can focus on her clients during busy periods without feeling the need to do everything all at once.
Erin has also decided that she doesn’t want to have an event every weekend so has blocked out some weekends and blocked out vacation time for herself. She used to never feel like she could say no. She felt that taking bookings and making some money was better than taking the time off.
She started saying no to requests for dates she has set aside for herself and no to discount requests. She also raised her prices and got really clear on what she offers. If someone doesn’t want to pay that or doesn’t want to book her full service, that’s fine. She can pass them to someone who is a better fit. You don’t have to accept being talked down on your prices by people who don’t value what you offer.
Erin isn’t alone, a huge number of members of The Wedding Business Collective raised their prices in the last 6 months and they’re still getting fully booked. When you’re crystal clear on who you want to work with and the time you’re taking for yourself, you can actually make more money.
Not sure how to best raise your prices? We’ve got a course inside The Wedding Business Collective that shows you how to run a profitable price increase promotion.
Erin, Mercy, and Neal all shared that by shifting their focus to their specific ideal client and setting themselves apart from the competition, they’re attracting people who value what they do and are happy to pay full price. Confidently saying no to all the “hustling on the side” as Erin put it is an amazing feeling.
Inside The Wedding Business Collective, we have Quarterly Planning Sessions. Every quarter, we get together to review your last 90 days and plan for your next 90 days so you know EXACTLY what you need to do in order to reach your goals.
Mercy started doing regular quarterly planning after attending our Quarterly Planning Sessions inside The Wedding Business Collective. Previously, she created a big annual plan but quarterly planning has allowed her to revisit her big annual goals and adapt the plan in specific steps she’ll take during the next quarter.
It’s difficult to break down specific steps for something that isn’t going to happen for another 10 months. Quarterly planning makes it much easier to get specific and clear on the steps you need to take to reach your goals. It also allows you to get realistic about your capacity. We tend to pile too much onto our plates and wind up feeling overwhelmed and anxious by everything we’ve said we’d do.
We’re all about more ease in The Wedding Business Collective and Neal, Erin, and Mercy have all taken a more ease-filled approach to their marketing, their time management, their workflows and systems, and everything else in their business. You’re the CEO and you get to decide whether you’re going to make things hard for yourself or easy for yourself.
Mercy was fairly new in the wedding industry when she joined The Wedding Business Collective and she says it has been great for people in her position. Here’s what else she said in her own words:
“If you’ve been thinking about getting any type of coaching, The Wedding Business Collective is a great place to start because you have Heidi who is fantastic and Heidi really cares about you. I’m just going to put that out there. I really feel that. From the get go, Heidi immediately took an interest in me and she checks in with me to see how I’m doing on things I’ve said I was going to do.
I’m not the best at keeping my own goals and promises to myself but I’m very good at obliging other people so having a structure like The Wedding Business Collective has been great because when I tell people I’m going to do something, I get held accountable. There are a ton of resources and I learn a lot from the other people in The Wedding Business Collective like Neal and Erin. I love that it helps keep me in check but also provides a lot of resources to show you how to take your business to the next level.”
Neal has been in the industry for 36 years and he says it’s fantastic to be able to see things through other perspectives via the other members. Here’s what else he said in his own words:
“You mentioned the Quarterly Planning Sessions and those are important so we’re not just trudging along for a whole year with blinders on. I love that we get to pick each other’s brains, network with other people, and have accountability. I love the ideas I get from the other members and of course squeezing as much as we can out of Heidi’s brain. It’s really for everybody no matter how long you’ve been in the industry.”
Erin saw Kay Northrup, who is local to her, speaking at one of my previous summits and she has observed Kay absolutely killing it. She loved Kay’s social media presence and worked with her on a local wedding. Here’s what else she said in her own words:
“After seeing the success Kay had created, I was like ‘I want what she has!’ I wanted in on that. I have been doing this for years but I treated it as a thing I had on the side. I hadn’t looked into all the systems that made things easier and I didn’t have an accountant or a solid contract. When I realized that my goal was to pull back from my full time job and do more of what I love, I realized I needed to kick it up a notch. That’s what brought me in.
What kept me here is what Mercy said, the way Heidi cares for us as individuals amazes me sometimes. I’ve been in other groups where the leaders deflect questions and treat people like they don’t have time and I’ve never felt that way with Heidi. It comes across like you’re going to meet me where I am and you’re going to help me get what I need or even create a resource for me. I have a very busy full life outside of my business and a month may go by where I don’t feel like I’ve done enough but I still have Heidi basically on retainer so that when I have questions, I can ask you and the other members.
It’s just a no brainer for me, it’s a great place to be. I find everybody to be really supportive and I think Heidi really sets that tone with the way she is with all of us.”
Erin brings up a great point here and it’s super important to me that The Wedding Business Collective is very supportive because we all have questions and we’re all at different points in our business growth. The great thing about having members at different stages is they can share what they messed up or what they would do differently.
The Wedding Business Collective is a collective. It’s not the me show where the focus is on everyone learning only from me. I love teaching but there is a reason why we have each other and we have guest experts. The Wedding Business Collective is about getting support from more than just one person.
Does that sound like something that could help your business? Click here to join us in The Wedding Business Collective!
Join us inside The Wedding Business Collective!
Episode 215: How To Use Quarterly Planning To Squash Overwhelm
What’s The Point Of Having An Ideal Client?
8 Reasons Why Having A Wedding Business Marketing Plan Will Make Your Life Easier
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