Over the years as my own stationery business has grown and morphed and has learned to serve my ideal client, one of my favorite things is working with other vendors whose ideal client aligns with mine. If you’re not sure about your ideal client, you can read all about how to find out yours here!
One of my favorite vendors to work with is wedding planners. I can tell when a client of mine has a wedding planner as it makes the whole process from start to finish just a little bit smoother for everyone involved. They generally already have some ideas and visions that the planner has refined and come to you with a solid plan in place and are ready to execute.
I know here in our TCC community that the question of working with planners and other vendors comes up a lot. How do I start working with them? How do I approach them? Should I give them a referral discount? Do they need samples? And I totally get it, there are a lot of questions and not much guidance in that area.
So today I wanted to chat about working with wedding planners and how to make the most out of it.
I covered this a little bit earlier when I mentioned that clients with wedding planners come to you with a bit more of a refined vision, but they also come to you with realistic expectations. The wedding planner is generally their gatekeeper and knows that if they are asking for the moon and stars, they generally know if they can in fact afford the moon and stars.
A good wedding planner knows the average cost of wedding invitations and how add ons like wax seals, calligraphy, letterpress etc can affect the total budget and help keep their client in check when it comes to picking items out.
Wedding planners also can bring some great out-of-the-box ideas to the table for their clients as that is what they are usually hired for. Their job is to help design this beautiful wedding based on their clients’ vision and the planner’s expertise. So when you as a stationer become part of that expertise, it’s worth its weight in gold.
This goes back to your ideal client. I highly recommend honing in and discovering who your ideal client is before diving too far into working with vendors. Mainly because, when you are looking for vendors to start working with, you want to make sure that both of your ideal clients line up with one another, or at least have several similarities. If you serve higher-end, detail-driven clients, you probably wouldn’t be a good fit for a planner who does more of day-of coordination for DIY brides and recommends e-vites. Catch my drift. To each their own.
While that may be an extreme difference, you really want to vet your planners just like I hope they would vet you as well. Now obviously I’m not talking about vetting planners that your client already has hired, I’m referring to planners you want to reach out to start working with when it comes to referrals and networking.
Being on the same page when it comes to your client’s style and needs makes the whole process go just a little smoother and honestly leads to a higher booking rate when a vendor can fully recommend you and your expertise.
Now, this is generally when you start to break out into a cold sweat. How do I approach someone I want to start working with? What do I say? And all of the introverts silently crawl into a corner.
Once you have narrowed down some planners that you would like to get in front of, I would honestly just recommend starting off with an email! I know that seems pretty straight forward, but I would make it a nice introduction email and talk specifically about them and any personal connections you may have or maybe that you’ve followed them and love their work, etc etc.
I’m not talking about sucking up or laying it on thick, just be honest and genuine! WHY are you reaching out to them? I would then ask if you could get their address to drop some samples in the mail for them to keep on hand.
Getting samples in front of them will work wonders. You could talk all day long on email, but especially for stationery, being able to see an actual product and your design work goes a long way. And I can almost guarantee you that when they are meeting with a bride and she starts talking about invitation ideas and asks the planner what they know about invitations and any recommendations, they will remember those samples. And when they can quickly get your product in front of a client without you having to do a thing yet, it starts to plant that amazing referral seed.
If you want to check out my full process for putting together wedding invitation sample boxes, head on over to this post!
I talk about this concept when we’re talking about your ideal client. You’ve determined your ideal client (selected ideal planners), you’ve “marketed” to that ideal client (reached out and sent samples) and now you’ve booked that ideal client (have a good relationship and referrals).
So now what?
Well, just like with your clients, you don’t want to leave them hanging once you’ve booked them. You’ve given them this amazing experience leading up to the booking and it needs to continue on afterward, too. And the same goes for planners, you want to make sure that you are living up to the expectations of the planner who is referring you.
You want to make sure that you’re taking care of their clients and creating an unforgettable experience for them. Honestly, this should go for all of your clients, but most importantly, I have learned that planners want to make sure that their clients are in good hands. Because with you being a referral, if something goes awry, it also falls on the planner who recommended you. And good experiences (as well as bad) will surely be made known to the planner and impact future relationships.
I see this question asked a lot – should I give planners a kickback or discount for referring me to their clients? I’ve seen answers all across the board, but in my honest opinion – I am going to say no. You are working on building these relationships with good planners who will refer you based on you and your work. I wouldn’t want someone referring me just because they’re getting something out of it.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take care of those planners and thank them. If you start working with a planner regularly, let them know you appreciate them! That could be as simple as a handwritten note or even a surprise gift in the mail (I love BoxFox!). I don’t think of this as a “bribe or discount” to get a planner to refer me, it is me genuinely thanking them and letting them know I appreciate them. And honestly, after a while, a friendship is formed, clients or no! Plus, gifting is my love language!
And there you have it! The ins and outs of working with wedding planners as a stationery designer! I promise it’s easier than you think!
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