Like clockwork, the start of a new year ushers in a flurry of newly engaged couples excited to start planning their wedding day. From booking the perfect venue to coordinating the right guest list, they have many decisions standing between them and the aisle. Fortunately, their team of wedding experts can help them navigate the process smoothly and efficiently.
Every wedding professional knows that the first few months of a year are prime time for marketing and booking couples who got engaged over the holidays. Yet, this engagement season will look different than years past as the industry anticipates a wedding boom unlike any other.
As we wind down the year and look ahead to the 2022 engagement season, use these must-do strategies to position your business for a profitable year.
Revisit your ideal client avatar (ICA)
Throughout the pandemic, many event pros saw their business models evolve to keep up with demands. However, it’s important to be mindful that consumer behavior has also shifted in the past few years. As a result, wedding professionals should reevaluate their target audiences to determine where they fit into the current market landscape.
Jaclyn Watson, owner of Jaclyn Watson Events, elaborates: “There will be plenty of weddings in 2022 for wedding pros of every category. Take the time to chat and get to know the potential client that wants to hire you. Take the time to make sure they are the right match for your company. Remember that it is ok to say no to those you know that do not match your services and personality.”
Look back at the year’s performance
Before stepping into the new year, make sure to assess wins and losses from the past year to determine what needs to be changed. For teams, this should be a group discussion with leaders and employees collaborating to improve in the year ahead.
“We like to get our team together and share feedback on our season, what went well, what can we do better, what definitely needs work, and what we need to add to our flow,” shares Syrie Roman, founder and lead planner of Social Maven. “I get incredible value and the best ideas when we collaborate as a team.”
Roman adds: “We also pick a few of our clients and send them a targeted survey to get their feedback on their full planning experience, it's easy to put together, and it yields great information from the point of view of your client. We use this information to keep curating and improving our client experience.”
Establish clear goals
While the past few years may have steered you off-course, goals are still a vital way to drive your business in the right direction and maintain motivation for your team.
Juls Sharpley, founder of Bubbles & Bowties, speaks to the importance of setting goals: “Right before engagement season is the best time to sit down and go through what you want the next year (or two) of your business to look like.”
Sharpley continues: “Do you need to hire? Do you want to figure out how to scale? What type of client are you looking for? And the list goes on. Setting goals and parameters for what the future looks like will help guide you to the clients and projects you want to book and help you also filter out the ones that aren’t a fit.”
Review your digital foundation
As technology continues to provide streamlined solutions for small businesses, wedding pros would do well to check in with their systems and processes to ensure everything is running smoothly before the busy season sets in.
Nora Sheils, co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and founder of Bridal Bliss, assures: “A tech audit is necessary as wedding pros prep for engagement season. Wedding pros need to ensure their company is as efficient as possible so they can spend more time on their craft than on the administrative side.”
“There are so many tools available to wedding pros (many at a very low price) that will put hours back in their day and likely save them quite a bit of money as well,” Sheils explains. “Think digitizing invoices and contracts, setting up automation, and storing documents in a shared place, so they are accessible to your clients and your team.”
Get ahead of your content schedule
Generating fresh marketing content is a time-intensive task that often falls through the cracks when the busy season picks up. Spending time to batch produce content now can save you the headache of squeezing it in between sales calls and event days.
Julianne Smith, owner of The Garter Girl, confirms: “A great tip for preparing for the busy season is to take advantage of schedulers during the off-season. For example, I pre-schedule all of my blog content, Pinterest, email blasts, and Instagram posts to not be busy writing new content in the middle of the busy season.”
“Most wedding pros forget about the different lead times for different platforms,” Smith says. “For example, Pinterest can take 30 to 45 days for a pin to cycle through Pinterest. So, to prep for the end of engagement season, you need to start posting Pinterest content months before. Whereas on Instagram, content only lasts about 48 hours, so you have more time to prepare for engagement season and can post at the moment.”
Reexamine your contract
Contrary to popular belief, contracts are not a one-and-done process. Instead, they should be revisited regularly to ensure they are up-to-date—particularly with the effects of the pandemic in mind.
“Review your contract!” urges Bri Marbis, bridal stylist for The Bridal Finery. “It’s not too often that wedding professionals take the time to review and revise their contracts, and prior to engagement season is the perfect time to do so.”
Marbais adds: “We recommend consulting with your legal team on any adjustments that should be made to your contract. Because the effects of the pandemic are still heavily impacting the wedding industry, new jargon and clauses might need to be put into place.”
Prioritize your wellbeing
As we brace for the busiest wedding season in recent history, it’s more critical than ever for industry professionals to care for their physical and mental health. Rest is productive, so be intentional about finding downtime. Personal time should not be an afterthought!
“Take some time to rest,” encourages Laura Maddox, owner of Magnolia Celebrates. “We all know there is a natural lull for a few weeks each holiday season while the social event season wraps for the year and the engagement season is just beginning. Especially with a wedding boom, make sure you're taking some time to rest and recharge. Self-care has never been more important to prevent burnout!”
As the year draws to an end, make sure to fit in some of these proactive strategies between plates of pie and holiday movie marathons. When engagement season rolls around, you’ll be glad you put in the effort as the inquiries start to flow in!