The Naked Truth About Wedding Collectives and Referral Groups

July 24, 2014 by Stephanie and Jeff Padovani

Wedding Vendor Showcase
Question: Are wedding collectives worth it?

“I have a question of the week for you – regarding ‘wedding collectives.’

[Wedding collectives are exclusive groups of wedding professionals who form a group to attract couples and usually offer some kind of discount for hiring members.]

My questions:

  • Are these useful to join?
  • Is it common for them to charge you to join?
  • Are there any in your area that you have joined? What has been your experience?
  • Is it OK to join more than one or do I only have to pick one?

I’m trying to market and position for higher end brides – it seems like all of these “groups” are doing the same, so I it would be a smart move to join one. But, if it’s not ok to join more than one…how should I pick which to join?”

Answer: Proceed with caution to make sure the collective is a good match for you.

Not all wedding collectives are created equal, weed hopper. This answer is: it depends.

These collectives are much more attractive to wedding pros than they are to brides and grooms. While the group’s promise is to filter out the riff raff by offering a short list of the best in the market, this is a hard sell to couples who are wary of being deceived by unscrupulous vendors. It’s really about joining forces as a referral network, so don’t let the thrill of joining an “insider’s club” fool you into making a bad choice.

Any time you form a close network of wedding professionals who recommend each other and serve a similar market, this leads to high quality referrals and increased bookings. While I’ve never been part of a formal group like this, we certainly have an “inner circle” of businesses in our area who recommend each other, and it’s an incredible source of red hot leads. We also know we work well together, so the wedding experience is better for us and our clients.

In addition, when you pool your resources of time, energy and money with a like-minded group, you can attract many more leads than you could on your own.

An Effective Wedding Collective Meets These Criteria:

  • The collective attracts couples who are a good match for you. In your case, make sure the collective website and all the members are serving a high end market, with an image and style that your couples find attractive. If you’re not sure, ask some of your current clients what they think!
  • You are confident recommending the members of the collective. The success of these groups depends upon the high quality of members and referrals. If you can’t authentically endorse these businesses, it’s not going to work.
  • The collective has visibility in your local market. Look for either a popular local blog on the website, prominence at networking meetings or other marketing and advertising to promote the group.
  • The collective’s guidelines match your values. Is it an exclusive group where you agree to refer only from its members? What happens if someone doesn’t follow the guidelines? Make sure you understand and can agree with the guidelines without reservation.
  • Each member follows the guidelines and pulls their own weight according to its guidelines. If one member refuses to recommend the others or doesn’t promote group events and activities, this breeds ill will and weakens the group.
  • Current members speak highly about the collective and its results. Call up some of the members and ask their opinion of the group. Has it generated leads for them?

Do a quick Alexa search on the websites of these wedding collectives. This gives an indication of how many website visitors are finding them and what keyword phrases they rank for. I looked up the collectives you’re considering, and two of them are intriguing.

The first gets traffic for phrases that include “barn wedding.” It’s likely that couples with a bigger budget searching for non-traditional locations in the area are finding this site, which makes it a good prospect.

The second is a close-knit group of wedding businesses who rent studio space together. Even though their website doesn’t get much traffic (from what I can tell) this is a powerful referral network with team members literally right next door.

Expect to pay some membership dues. Collectives often charge a fee to weed out low quality vendors and contribute to the collective’s marketing costs. A group like this that does co-op marketing at bridal shows or with Facebook ads could be a terrific source of high quality leads.

Don’t join multiple collectives unless you can commit to promoting them all equally. The exclusivity of the group creates the feeling of an “inner circle” for couples and that’s what generates the referrals. Splitting your referrals and promotion between multiple groups defeats the purpose.

Wedding collectives don’t instantly guarantee leads because you need just the right combination of businesses, market and cooperation. Choose wisely and the right group can be a powerhouse.

What’s your experience with wedding collectives?

About the Author

Stephanie Padovani and her husband, Jeff Padovani, are the dynamic husband-wife duo behind Book More Brides, the #1 online resource for transformational marketing, business and motivational strategies for the wedding industry.

Stephanie and Jeff Padovani met and fell in love in the corporate world, and have been working together ever since. They are famous for entertaining and empowering wedding professionals with low cost, effective marketing strategies and powerful “anti-price shopper” communication techniques…that don’t require sleazy, high-pressure sales tactics or competing on price.

Want more wedding business tips? Visit BookMoreBrides.com to get your copy of the free report, “The Price Shopper Email: How to Immediately Convince Brides of Your Value So They’re Primed and Ready to Book.”
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Stephanie and Jeff Padovani Stephanie and Jeff Padovani (152 Posts)

Stephanie Padovani and her husband, Jeff, are the dynamic husband-wife duo behind Book More Brides, the #1 marketing resource for for the wedding industry. Visit BookMoreBrides.com/mb to learn, “21 Must Have FREE Tools to Turbo Charge Your Wedding Business.”


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