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Why Couples Say They Can't Afford Your Wedding Services

by: Kathy DalPra

can't afford wedding servicesAt some point or another, most of us have dealt with an engaged couple who is on a budget when selling our wedding services or products. And nothing stings more than when they tell you they love your work, but just can't afford it. Well, recently a client told me that I have an uncanny insight into how brides think and what motivates them to buy, so I thought maybe I'd share some of my thoughts on this touchy topic with you too. (Feel free to chime in with your experience in the comments below as well.)

They can't or they won't?

A little while back, I shared the story of a couple that way overspent on their photography budget simply because it was an important piece of their event and they felt confident in a specific photographer they met. It got me thinking about how many times I had bridal customers drop more than $500-$1000 on their bridal jewelry with me when the average handcraft sets sold on Etsy and elsewhere were usually less than $100.

In fact, you can probably even think of a time when you spent way more than you anticipated on something you really, really wanted (furniture, clothing, cappuccino maker...). As consumers, we pay for what we value. It's all about priorities and choices. A couple may be more conservative on their wedding flowers just so they can afford a lavish cake. Or maybe they splurge on their videography, but choose a venue that has linens so they can reduce their rental budget. It's all about what a couple perceives as being important to them. It's a choice about where to allocate the budget. Your job is to market to those that already value your type of service, while also expressing the benefits they'll get from it (see next).

They don't know your value

Most of the time, when a wedding professional has asked me to critique their website because it's not bringing them quality leads and bookings, the problem is crystal clear: they aren't communicating the value of what they uniquely do.

Couples will be focused on price until you get them to focus on something else more important, such as what they get when they hire you or buy from you. In order for them to justify your higher pricing, they need to believe that the benefits of working with you outweigh the cost to get it. So, for instance, maybe the couple wasn't planning on dropping an extra grand or so to get a photo booth, but the idea that their guests could be self-entertained all night and wind up producing an entirely separate photo album while their photographer is busy with the formal stuff makes the choice an easy one.

Your brand look says "cheap"

This is an uncomfortable topic, I know. But it's a reality that every bridal business has to face if they want to have the freedom to charge higher rates.

Consumers do judge a book by its cover. If the first impression your visual brand gives off isn't consistent with the rates you're charging, couples will have sticker shock. An outdated logo, a busy do-it-yourself website and inconsistent graphics all scream "amateur." And no couple is going to pay top rates to someone they perceive to be a hobbyist or novice.

There is something they aren't telling you

When a couple tells us that they can't afford it, frequently, there is something else keeping them from moving forward that they aren't sharing. Usually, its a common objection or concern that many of your prospective customers have, such as whether they can trust you, if you're reliable, if they'll get their order on time etc. There are two ideal ways to handle this:

  1. Address the most common objections you come across right on your website, so you can thwart them before the point of sale. (Don't call them "objections", call them F.A.Q.s or something more subtle.)
  2. Be a master listener in your sales meetings so you can recognize the signs that there is a deeper fear or concern underlying their hesitation and address it on the spot.

Do you act like the budget brides you attract?

I admit, that this last one may seem a bit woo-woo, but I have personally seen this one play out repeatedly for myself and my top clients. (If you disagree, no nasty comments below please. I'm only sharing my humble experience, so let's play nice.)

What you put out there is what you get back.

Do you often find yourself saying you can't afford it? Or you wish you could afford it? These little "reasons" may seem harmless as we repeat them in our heads or voice them to a friend, but they are sneaky. The more we affirm that we are a member of the "broke" club, the more we attract other people who are also a member of that club.

The first time I invested $1500 in growing my bridal jewelry business, I was very nervous...but I got it back in 2 custom orders within a few months. Then, the first time I invested 5 figures in my second business to improve my business model, I was scared out of my mind...but I got more than $30,000 in new contracts that same month. Granted, I did the work to earn that and I made smart decisions about where my investment went, but I still put up more money than I ever had before...and it was scary! Yet it immediately paid off. Each time I have done this since, I've always gotten it back in multiples. And my clients have experienced the same effect in their businesses too. The more you claim you can afford it, the more you start to become a magnet for clients that can afford it too. How fun is that?

Why else do you think couples say they can't afford it?

"I can't afford it" is usually code for something else, like "it's not that important to me" or "I'm spending my money elsewhere" or "I don't think you're worth it based on my first impression". What other hidden reasons do you think may be at play here?

Leave your two cents below...

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