There are a number of signs that it’s time to grow your business. You may feel like your work no longer challenges you. Or perhaps you’ve gained the experience to raise your rates beyond your current clients’ price points. If you’re starting to look outside your existing market, you might see a lot of potential for growth within luxury events.
But what does it take to appeal to the high-end clients who are ready to spend six and seven figures on their milestone celebrations? A lofty price tag comes with lofty expectations, so it’s not as simple as entering the luxury market and replicating your current approach.
To prepare your brand for a new start in the luxury market, take note of what fellow industry pros have learned when making the transition in their own businesses.
Do your homework
If you intend to impress a high-end client with a welcome bottle of champagne, think again. What may seem “over the top” for mid-range and budget clients doesn’t necessarily measure up to a luxury client’s expectations, so you need to familiarize yourself with your new ideal client to avoid falling short.
“Before marketing to potential luxury clients, you need to know more about their demographics, buying habits, and consumer preferences,” notes Greg Carlyle of Millennium Event Center. “Event and wedding industry publications and blogs, as well as social media analytics, are good starting points.”
But that’s not all your homework entails. You must also dive into the upper echelons of the event industry to learn how to elevate your work from great to extraordinary.
“Moving upmarket often means developing a perspective that results in doing things that are really hard to get access to (rare materials, talent, spaces, etc.) that others won't take the time to figure out,” explains Vijay Goel of 440 Elm. “Find where your curiosity leads you down the rabbit hole and invite others to join you in that exploration.”
Luxury events are more than big budgets and extravagant decor. Your clients will expect a top-notch experience, so you must go into the market prepared.
Update your marketing
Your existing marketing strategy is tailored to your current market, so if you’re planning to transition, you’ll need to freshen up your approach to present a more sophisticated and exclusive brand experience on your website, social media, and other marketing channels.
“Think luxury in all of your branding and marketing,” affirms Caroline Robert of Caroline’s Collective. “This means not being able to show all the work you do and instead being very selective that the work shown aligns with your ideal client.”
Brittany Branson of By Brittany Branson shares Robert’s sentiment, adding a recommendation to fill those gaps with behind-the-scenes content that shows off a more refined taste.
“Utilize social media and other behind-the-scenes content platforms to prove to the luxury market that you belong,” she suggests. In particular, “do not be afraid to highlight any charities your business is associated with. Couples and clients in the luxury market are humans too and are very often associated with philanthropic or charitable causes.”
Another way to get in front of the right audience is by building a luxury press portfolio with features in high-end publications like WedLuxe and Inside Weddings.
“Get published in the right places,” recommends Aly Raddatz of Elevated Events. “Look at wedding and event blogs focusing on the luxury market and learn their publishing requirements. And think not only about your elite 'real weddings.' Show your knowledge and expertise through a blog for an events industry digital publication.”
A five-star marketing campaign goes a long way, but you can take it even further by adding public relations to the mix to build social proof and earn third-party validation.
Cultivate a high-end network
A trustworthy network is always a valuable asset, but it’s especially fruitful when entering an exclusive market such as luxury events. Knowing a few experienced professionals can help you transition smoothly with a solid foothold.
“Collaborate with your fellow wedding vendors in the luxury market!” confirms Sarah Chianese of Mangia and Enjoy!. “Make connections with luxury vendors that can work with you to execute the vision of your couple’s dreams.”
“When you work with them, knock their socks off,” Sheils says. “Stay top of mind by checking in, sending surprise-and-delights, and by being someone that they want to work with more. When a client comes in looking to hire a vendor in your category, you should be the first person your friendors think of!”
Dedicate time to attending local networking events, joining associations, and connecting with luxury event pros on social media. You’ll feel much more comfortable taking the plunge if you know you have a few friends on the other side!
Elevate your processes
We often think luxury means everything is pretty and expensive, but it requires much more to impress a high-end client. Upscale branding is essential, but don’t forget to shine a light on your client experience as well.
“It is not enough to have a pretty logo and marketing materials,” asserts Lilia Shatnaya of Plume and Stone. “Your process should be streamlined, and it should be automated and personalized. From welcome emails to follow-ups, forms, and questionnaires, working with you should make your luxury client’s life easier. When your process flows seamlessly and is well designed, it is time-saving, professional, and most of all, fun.”
Simple and streamlined processes are vital, but Jessica Feiden of Jessica K. Feiden Photography implores luxury event pros to recognize the importance of a personalized client experience.
“When transitioning into the luxury market, you need to start customizing your service base business at the first interaction with every client,” she explains. “This means having a conversation and crafting custom proposals based on their needs and wants rather than sending over cookie cutter collections to choose from. This also means catering your client experience based on that specific client's wants and desires.”
So instead of batch-purchasing identical client gifts or sending a BCC email to all your clients, learn their unique preferences and personalities to adapt your processes accordingly. That’s how you win them over with a VIP experience tailored just for them!
The luxury event market holds a lot of potential, but it comes with unique challenges that industry pros must overcome to find their place and meet clients’ high expectations. Do the work beforehand to learn and adjust your brand to the new standards, and you’ll have no problem navigating the transition!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.