Surprise and delight. This phrase sounds more like a way of life than a marketing term. But it’s actually an important approach to business that nurtures customer relationships, enhances business to customer interactions, and increases loyalty.
While I am a huge proponent for small business owners incorporating automation in their business model, there are personal touches necessary to keep the heart and soul of your business front and center. And that’s where surprise and delight comes in. For event pros, the possibilities for incorporating surprise and delight in your business are endless.
As an event professional, physical gifts are some of the most popular and most obvious choices for bringing delight to your customers.
The first opportunity for surprise and delight is when your new client officially books with you. A thoughtfully chosen welcome gift for a new client can set the tone for the entire process. Starting the relationship with generosity and warmth hints at a phenomenal client experience from start to finish. At the same time, keeping the welcome gift simple and thoughtful is key in my book. Think of this gift as an amuse bouche for your clients - just a taste of the surprise and delight to come in the following months!
As the wedding date approaches, a wedding day emergency kit is the perfect small gift to drop off to your clients. You can purchase these kits or put something together yourself. Either way, it lets your clients know that you’re thinking of them and doing everything you can to lessen their stress.
After the wedding is over, there are still opportunities to keep your couples delighted. The first is right after the wedding, when your clients are in wedded bliss and you’re celebrating a successful event. A day or two after the wedding is the perfect time to drop off a celebratory gift or send a handwritten thank you note the couple.
One physical gift that is often overlooked is the client referral fee. Offering your previous (and current) clients a monetary fee for referrals that book with you is a great way to incentivize word of mouth marketing.
Photo credit: Petronella Photography
While a physical gift brings delight in the moment, intangible benefits often bring surprise and delight to every interaction you have with your client. It’s a larger, more impactful experience worth investing the effort in.
High Touch Communication
I strive to be incredibly responsive with my clients - which often comes as a welcome surprise. In this day and age, you’d be shocked by how slow some people are to get back to couples. So be the standout by making sure that you’re responding to your couples in a reasonable but prompt timeframe.
Also, all wedding vendors could benefit from checking in with their clients more throughout the planning process. As the wedding planner, I obviously check in with my couples on a regular basis, but one of the most common comments I hear from my couples is that they booked their [insert wedding vendor here] at the beginning of the planning process and then the vendor went radio silent. I explain to my couples that that’s totally normal and that the vendor will resume communications as we get closer to the wedding date. But what if that wasn't the norm? If other vendors found ways to check in and touch base more, it could really enhance the client experience and set them apart from their competitors.
The steady communication also offers me an opportunity to give the couple an insider’s guide to the wedding process. Since I am checking in regularly with them, sometimes couples will mention a questionable situation with another vendor. I give my best advice or perspective from my experience - which helps soothe my couples stressing over something that’s rather typical, or encouraging them to trust their gut when something doesn’t feel right and doesn’t seem right to me.
I also strive to keep my couples delighted with vendor recommendations and interactions. If they’re on the hunt for a photo booth or a ceremony musician, I can offer recommendations based on their taste and the vibe of the wedding. And as I work with more and more vendors, my experiences make the planning details smoother as I get to know each vendor. It helps me predict hiccups that may stem from certain vendors and avoid as much day-of stress as possible.
Surprise and delight marketing is a commitment, not a one-off decision. But the more often you are working in the headspace of constant surprise and delight, the easier it is to keep up. Sustaining positive relationships keeps people coming back to you for future events, recommending their friends and family to you, and brings in positive reviews, all of which are invaluable to building your business.
Photo credit: Chaz Cruz Photographers
About Leah Weinberg
Leah Weinberg is the Owner & Creative Director of Color Pop Events—a New York City-based wedding planning company that focuses on the details and lives in the logistics. Now in her 6th year of business, Leah leverages skills like organization, attention to detail, and client service from her prior career as a commercial real estate attorney to excel at event production. Her colorful work & party planning tips have been published online and in print with Vogue, Glamour, Marie Claire, Martha Stewart Weddings, Martha Stewart Living, The Knot, Buzzfeed & more.