Establishing your brand as an event and wedding planner

We’re going to start regularly writing blog entries on how to market your services to prospective clients, and this is the first in that series. So to begin, we thought we’d start with how you can create your personal brand as a professional wedding planner.

Branding has been around forever, and most people think of big companies like Coke and IBM when they think of brands. But really anything can be a brand, including your wedding consulting business.

A brand is essentially the essence of your company and the promise you make to your clients, and it includes many things such as: your company name, your mission, your capabilities, your logo, your co-workers and employees, your office, your personality, your website, the cost of your services, your stationery and collateral, the attributes that set you apart from competitors and anything else that can be used to define you.

It helps to define your brand and what you represent before you begin marketing to prospects because it enables you to communicate a clear and focused message to the public. So you should take a few hours to sit down and write down a list of attributes that define your company and how you would like to be seen by your prospects. Harry Beckwith, a long-time guru when it comes to marketing service-based businesses, has seven questions to ask yourself when positioning your brand and they are as follows (in fact, I would highly recommend reading his book Selling the Invisible to anyone who runs a service-based business like wedding planning):
1. Who are you?
2. What business are you in?
3. What people do you serve?
4. What are the special needs of the people you serve?
5. With whom are you competing?
6. What makes you different from your competitors? You may be like many competitors, so don’t go with the obvious boasts (best, largest, etc.) – go with something that nobody else can own.
7. What unique benefits do your target audiences get from your service?

Once you have done this, you are ready to create your elevator speech (a 2-3 sentence pitch that says who you are, what you do and what makes your business special) as well as start working on your marketing materials.

Also, because you are in a very visual business (where people are very interested in how you design a wedding), having a professional look to your materials is important, and you don’t necessairly have to pay a mint for custom business cards, stationery, collateral and a website. You can hire a local designer to help you, or there are tons of online providers like Logo Design Guru or Logo Works that can create designs for you at a reasonable price. And as for wedding websites for wedding planners, there are many web site design providers where you can get a site for cheap (or you can even create a lens on Squidoo as a placeholder until you get your own site).

These are just the first steps in preparing to market your business, and next we will talk about tactics to use in getting the word out.