…And what your opening line should be
Christmas lights are out and so are the carolers. To the florist who works in weddings, these signs mean something very significant: booking season has arrived. At Twisted Willow Design, we book approximately 70% of our weddings from December to early February. How do these prospects come about? Online portfolios of our work, a well designed website, and using our Facebook page / Instagram.
What about wedding shows? Some florists hate them. Others put up with them. Yet, one of the cornerstone pieces in the growth of our floral startup over the past two years has been wedding shows. As we started our company, we didn’t know how effective advertising was so we started with a show and it was a great decision. So great of a decision, that we average 45 consultations booked per show. (Our record is 100 for a large two day show.) So, what are the keys to being effective at a wedding show?
Before you go into the show, know exactly how you will process new leads. Your end goal is simple: get the bride signed up for a consultation. Pre-set the times you can do consultations on a google spreadsheet so that all your team can have the most up-to-date information when setting up consultations. Have marketing materials on hand such as business cards or touch point cards. Use this card to write notes for the prospective client if they’re asking questions. It’s a much better way to ensure they’ll keep the card!
Bring beautiful examples of your work. This doesn’t have to break the bank. Find something classy that’s not going to ruin your advertising budget. One little known fact about wedding shows: brides care really little about the flowers you have there. I’d say 90% of the brides we book for consultations never go out of their way to look at our flowers. Were they a great backdrop and demo of our work? Absolutely. But brides typically signed up because they like us and want to go to the next step, which includes us showing them our previous work.
Yes, you are sizing up the bride just as much as she is sizing up you. Not every bride’s personality or budget will fit what you need. With that considered, remember: her wedding is, to her, the most dreamed about day of her life. Be friendly. SMILE. Don’t drop the conversation mid-sentence when you find someone already has a wedding florist. Are they asking too many questions? Answer the questions! If you’re not genuinely interested in the clients, you may as well close up shop and go home.
Find a people person to help you at your booth. If you have to get a friend or your second-cousin to come and help for 6 hours at the show, DO IT. You want solid personnel who don’t mind being uncomfortable or turned down and can always keep a smile on. Mitch Mohanna gives some tips in this Florist 2.0 article about how to land top sales talent. The hardest news for a florist to hear is this: don’t just use someone because they have great floral work.
If you’re at a stage in your business where you’re hungry for work, it’s your job to get the bride. Wallflowers are pretty but I’ve never seen one book a consultation at a wedding show. You’ve got to be willing to open conversation at every opportunity you have. Be careful that your initiative doesn’t come off as obnoxious. There is a way to classy way to open conversation without seeming to odd. Crazy enough…the most effective line we use is a simple, “Have you found your wedding florist yet?”
To finish up the article, here’s a sample line-by-line conversation that I normally have with a bride. ALWAYS play to your advantage, whether you are the florist or the help. Use who you are and leverage it in a way that helps the bride-to-be to stay engaged.
A normal conversation starts with a bride looking at our booth and goes something like this:
Me: Have you found your wedding florist yet?
Bride: We’re still looking!
Me: That’s awesome. I am, by no means, a wedding florist. But I know someone who is. I married her. (Use whatever line you need to here but funny / engaging is huge. They’re expecting you to immediately say that you’re a florist so whatever you can do to break that schema will help them feel engaged instead of being sold.)
Me: So…where did the proposal happen??
Bride: (Typically short answer but sometimes people are excited to share. Be excited to listen.)
Me: When is the wedding? (This seems like such a dumb question because they’ve been asked it a million times, but they don’t mind giving this at all.)
Bride: September 18, 2016
Me: Oh wow! It seems that September is such an exciting month to get married this year. What venue?
Bride: Well, we’re doing it at the (venue).
Me: That’s such a neat place! (Or some other completely honest and POSITIVE statement. Whether you’re a part or not, this is her wedding! She needs to be excited about it.) What colors did you pick out?
Bride: Blush and light colors.
Me: That would look awesome. The reason we’re here today is to help brides who know their venue and their colors and you’re at a point we can help. There are many brides who don’t know their venue or colors and aren’t at a point we can help them. Because you know them, we’re at a point we can start helping. The main thing we’re doing today is scheduling consultations where Rachael can sit down with you for 30 to 45 minutes and catch your vision. At the end, Rachael will give you a proposal on what kind of investment you need to make your wedding day everything you hope it to be. Do Wednesdays or Thursdays work ok for you? (Let her answer.)
Bride: Umm…no, I work Thursdays but Tuesday afternoon is an option.
Me: That’s perfect. We have one consultation left this next Tuesday at 3. Does that work? (Try to book brides at the earliest possible time. The later out you schedule them, the more likely they are to forget. And don’t ask them for a time! Give them options.)
Me: Cool. What’s your phone number?
Me: Got it. Well…you know what may be easier, we’ll send you a reminder via email. What’s the best email for you?
Bride: ourwedding at gmail dot com
Me: Awesome. We’re looking forward to connecting more with you next Tuesday!
And you’re out! You successfully turned a basic conversation into all of the key pieces of information you needed. Write it down as it goes! Many brides will have additional questions and this post by no means covers every situation that you’ll come up against. But it’s a proven template that will help you book more consultations, which turn into more weddings.
Ryan O’Neil is the co-founder of Curate, a proposal software for florists that creates beautiful, on-the-spot proposals accurate down to the last pincushion protea. His beautiful bride, Rachael, and he started Twisted Willow Design in St. Louis, Missouri two years ago, which is now one of the quickest growing event floral design companies in the midwest.