Business > Merchant Voice

Adding a wedding category could produce extra sales — and headaches

You may think you can’t tap into the wedding market if you don’t sell venues, honeymoons, caterers, dresses, hair and make-up, invitations, flowers, cars, jewelry, cake, nor entertainment.

However, there could be many hidden opportunities if you cleverly package your products and services for the multi-billion-dollar wedding industry.

Think laterally to get extra customers

Who says what you sell can’t be a wedding gift? Along with flatware, glasses, toaster, kettle, juicer and table linen, I’ve added a black metal mailbox, pendant lights for our kitchen, and a security door viewer — similar in appearance to an iPhone — to our wedding gift registry, because we’re renovating, too. (I’m getting married soon, by the way.)

Be creative. Your services may help people getting married improve their (or their home’s) appearance, increase safety or save them money.

Almost any consumer-oriented website can have a wedding or bridal angle. Got a steam-cleaning business? Why not have a Impress Your Mother-In-Law promotion? My fiancée’s parents are coming from England to stay with us before and after the wedding. Apparently she vacuums daily. Eeek! I am getting our cream sofas steam-cleaned in case she thinks they’re a little grubby after all the building dust.

Are you an accounting firm? Maybe there’s some sort of bride-and-groom trust structure you could package on your website which minimizes tax/es for the couple receiving cash gifts for their wedding.

Maybe you’re a dermatology expert. A wedding-ready tab for brides who need to clear up certain skin issues is one possibility.

Or you sell fine wines. A packaged deal for the wedding dinner, or a luxury group gift are two different options.

Undertake some search engine optimization and you could well turn up in long tail wedding-related keyword phrase searches by couples.

Increase your cash flow ahead of time

Apart from gaining new customers, many brides start research as soon as they’re engaged, which can be a year or more before the wedding. According to The Knot, mid-Atlantic brides are engaged for an average of 16 months compared to those from Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi who are engaged for a year.

If you ask for a deposit to secure your services — and to lessen the bridal version of tyre-kicking — that’s extra money your way.

Address your seasonal fluctuations

Couples get engaged every day — but December is the most popular month in the U.S. as their families can meet over the holidays. Weddings peak in September, possibly because winter is too cold, and summer is too hot, or too many of their friends and family are away.

Depending on what your website sells, bridal timelines may “marry” nicely with your quieter times. A fall destination wedding could be ideal for a swimsuit retailer, for example.

Look beyond local customers

Brides research vendors everywhere. I saw my wedding dress on a Las Vegas bridal website and sourced it to an eBay seller out of New York. While on eBay, I ordered frosted white tea light holders and nine-hour-burning tea light candles from Sydney (550 miles away from Melbourne).

To help freshen up the decor ahead of my in-laws’ arrival, I bought 10 decorative cushion covers from a Boston-based Etsy vendor and filled them with inserts from a Manchester, England eBay merchant.

Take advantage of currency changes

A ten-cent drop — or increase — in the currency rate can open up foreign opportunities for you. In May 2011, the Australian dollar was $AUD1.10 to the US dollar, so Australians went online shopping on American websites in droves. In August 2013, it was $AUD0.89 so American customers took advantage of our weaker dollar. It’s recovered to $AUD0.94.

Can you respond to currency changes with Google AdWords targeting foreign brides-to-be looking for a bargain?

Respond quickly and have your systems set up

But for goodness’ sake, make sure your systems are in place to take enquiries. Brides are one of the most stressed type of customers you can have, and they get increasingly anxious closer to the event.

One wedding centerpiece website didn’t respond to my contact form email, my voicemail, or email for a week. I got so annoyed that I mentioned on her Facebook page that I’d contacted her without response, purely to prod an answer. Real bridezillas could do much worse on social media.

A wholesale florist website had a live chat service which didn’t work, a voicemail message that the business was unattended at 10.30am(?), and an online booking form which didn’t save my special delivery instruction. But I persevered — mainly because they were so reasonably priced and had such good feedback – and all is well.

Offer a Do-it-yourself and a full-service option

Brides are battling big expenses, so they appreciate a budget option to manage it themselves.

That said, they will also pay gladly to get things delivered. There was a cheaper centerpiece quote, but I would have had to drive 18 miles the day before and after the wedding to collect the vase sets, load up my car, and then drop them back again. The stress and hassle just wasn’t worth the extra saving. I was frustrated they didn’t offer a DIY pick-up service and a full-service delivery as I would have quickly checked the latter.

Is there an opportunity for you to target the wedding market?

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
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