Alan Berg is the leading international expert on the business of weddings and events. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or brand new to the industry, you're going to learn actionable content that you as a wedding pro need to utilize NOW!
- The dichotomy of feeding your ego vs being the most profitable
- How to give a range of pricing that creates framing
- How Alan's love for music, speaking, writing, and consulting made him the leading international expert.
Alan is fluent in the language of business. He's been in marketing sales and sales management for over 20 years, working with businesses like yours and like mine within the wedding and events industry. Before striking out on a zone as the business consultant, author, and professional speaker, he served as the Vice President of Sales and The Knot Market Intelligence, at The Knot worldwide.
And addition to his speaking and consulting services, he serves as an educator for WeddingWire, which is the leading wedding technology company, doing webinars, live presentations, and writing articles. Alan is the wedding at events industries only certified speaking professional, the highest earned designation for a professional member of the national speakers association.
One of only 33 global speaking fellows in the world, he's able to help new businesses and solopreneurs, as well as the established players and corporations, understand and achieve their goals. Alan understands business as he's own several of his own, including publishing to wedding magazines. He's spoken and consulted domestically and internationally in 14 countries, and 5 continents and counting.
We're chatting about his latest book, Wit, Wisdom and the Business of Weddings: A Compendium of Ideas, Insight and Inspiration from an Industry Leader. Part "How-to-do" and part "How-to-think", Wit, Wisdom and the Business of Weddings is your companion on a journey to a more successful wedding business.
Mike Zabrin: 00:00 Alan Berg is the leading international expert on the business of weddings and events, whether you're a seasoned veteran or brand new to the industry, learn why couples are ghosting you and how to never get ghosted again, how to negotiate without lowering your price, how to set your price based on value and not costs. This is not exhaustive homework. This is actionable content that you as a wedding pro need to utilize right now in your business.
Mike Zabrin: 00:44 Last week was a great conversation with Meghan brown. We talked about her journey from a music business major to director of content and B2B education. At The Knot worldwide. We also talked about what it means to be the face of a brand and planning out content to marketing strategy you can utilize right now to make the most of 2021. Leads have gone up on the knot and WeddingWire since the start of the pandemic. And this is a comeback story of the wedding industry. You've got weddings that have been rescheduled people that were engaged in 2020, and now starting the planning process. And you've got newly engaged couples. That was a great conversation with Meghan on how to make the most of these opportunities as a wedding pro today, the first of a two-part series with the one and only Alan Berg with more than 25 years in sales marketing and sales management, Alan Berg has been called the leading international expert on the business of weddings and events.
Mike Zabrin: 01:37 He's a certified speaking professional, the highest earned designation conferred by the national speakers association and only one of 33 global speaking fellows Worldwide. Alan is a featured presenter every year at major industry conferences in north America and internationally. He has extensive sales, sales management, and marketing experience ranging from publishing two wedding magazines, to vice president of sales and education at The Knot at the time, the largest wedding website. And in addition to public speaking and consulting with venues, caterers, entrepreneurs and local businesses, Alan is also a contributing education expert for wedding pro from the knot and WeddingWire. He also speaks and consults for websites in Ireland, Dubai, India, Australia, the UK, as well as countless venues, hotels, bridal shops, planners, entertainers, and more. Welcome to Funktastic Chats. I'm your host, Mike Zabrin, and I'm a musician and an entrepreneur. I've teamed up with the best and most successful leaders within the creative field to help you navigate being a boss and dominate with originality and vision.
Mike Zabrin: 02:43 Having a long standing career in the wedding and events, industry, Funktastic Chats is a podcast that includes essential information for all small businesses. industry leaders join me every week to help you monetize your passion, automate repetitive tasks to allow for more time for what you love, how convert more leads and turn clients into brand fanatics and thrive at what you do. Alan is a lifelong musician who made it his business to help others reach success. Enjoy. Alan Berg is fluent in the language of business. He's been in marketing sales and sales management for over 20 years, working with businesses like yours and like mine within the wedding and events industry. And before striking out on a zone as a business consultant, author and professional speaker, he served as the vice president of sales and The Knot market intelligence at The Knot worldwide. And addition to his speaking and consulting services, he serves as a consultant and educator for WeddingWire, which is the leading wedding technology company doing webinars live presentations, writing articles. And Alan is the wedding and events industries only certified speaking professional, the highest earned designation for a professional member of the national speakers association. One of only 33 global speaking fellows in the world. He's able to help new businesses and solo preneurs as well as established players and corporations understand and achieve their goals. Alan understands business as he's owned several of his own, including publishing two wedding magazines. He spoken and consulted domestically and internationally in 14 countries and five continents and counting. We're here talking about his latest book, a wit wisdom and the business of weddings, a compendium of ideas, insight, and inspiration from an industry leader. You're going to get actionable content here, not just exhaustive homework. So whether you're new to the wedding and events industry, or just a seasoned veteran, each chapter stands on its own. So this book is not meant to be read front to back, although you certainly can, if you like, I most definitely did. So we're here with the man, Alan Berg, Hey Alan.
Alan Berg: 04:47 And you know, Mike, I, you know, I need to shorten that maybe, but it's hard to take, you know, 25 plus years of experience and, you know, make it much shorter.
Mike Zabrin: 04:56 Right. I had to shorten it. I know, but I'm going to add the rest of the front of the podcast before this interview. But anyway, you've been known as the leading international speaker and expert on the business of weddings and events. How far back does your love for the industry go?
Alan Berg: 05:13 Yeah, it goes back over 25 years and I fell into the industry and that that's kind of how a lot of people got into the industry. Only I got in on the magazine side. So my best friend at the time bought a wedding magazine franchise. And he wasn't looking for anything in the wedding industry. It was one of these things where his mother-in-law knew somebody that told her that a franchise was available and he bought it and he called me up and he said, Hey, I don't want a partner. I want a salesman. And we had worked together in some other stuff. And he said, I really want you, and it was straight commission, no salary, no drawn a minimum as a 10 99. I was in a really, I was in a job. I was making really good money. I had a company car fully paid benefits and I hated it.
Alan Berg: 05:52 And he said, Hey, you want to do this? And it sounds okay as a new opportunity, but let me add in that my wife pregnant and our other son was turning three and I was the only one bringing any income in. And I'm going to go into a brand new industry commission, only give back the company car. Right? You look at it on paper and you're like, what are you crazy? Why are you doing this? Well for five years, I sold wedding advertising, which meant I got in my car. And I drove around New Jersey in the Hudson valley, in New York, knocking on doors like yours and trying to sell advertising in our magazine. And then we bought the magazines and published the two magazines for five years. And then the company was franchises, wanted me to come work for them. So we sold them back, the magazine franchises went to work for them.
Alan Berg: 06:33 And four months later than not, which was a relatively new company at the time bought our company. So that's how I ended up at The Knot April. First of of, uh, what was it? 2000. And then April 1st of 2011, I was self-employed. I went out on my own. So for 11 years I ran, uh, either the regional sales in the Northeast or all of the sales at the knot and did all the education. And it was just, I kind of fell into the industry, but sometimes that happens, right. You know, you fall into the right place and yeah, sure. I probably could have done something else, but my passion just got drawn into this. Cause I got to do so many things that I loved, which was sales marketing, but I'm also a natural teacher. You know, like in college I would run the study group because if I could teach you Mike, I knew it right.
Alan Berg: 07:23 If I can teach, I, you knew it. And this is just my way. So it, all of these things just came together and I fell in love with the industry. And the funny thing is when I got married, I tell people, you know, the guy on top of the cake, that little thing that was me, that was about my involvement in the wedding. And you fast forward now. And you know, I travel around the world, speaking about the business of weddings, but what I don't talk about are weddings. I talk about the business of weddings, right? So you have a wedding band. And I think, you know, I'm a piano player. I'm a keyboard player.
Mike Zabrin: 07:57 I was about to say I just saw a video of you on your Facebook playing piano. You're really good.
Alan Berg: 07:59 Thank you. That's the first one you've seen. So there I've put up yeah. Over 40 videos since last April. And it's one of these things right here. Again, you didn't know that I played piano of a friend of mine in Philadelphia videographer. He knew that I played because at a conference, gosh, 10, 15 years ago, we were in Florida at a hotel and we were going to meet for dinner and he comes down to the lobby and he doesn't see me. So he's looking around and he hears somebody playing the piano. So he just goes to walk over and see who it is. And it was me in the lobby of his hotel, because if there's a piano, when it's not locked, it's probably getting played. That's how he knew that I played. So last I want to say April. So we're all in the lockdown mode, right?
Alan Berg: 08:41 And we're talking on the phone one day and he said, you should put up a video of you playing piano. I was like, why, what does that have to do with anything? And he's like, I don't know. I think it would be a good idea. DJs are doing live DJ stuff. He said, you should do that. So it was kind of a dare, right? So I put up, what did I play? I played somewhere over the rainbow. I played, right. I love the song, played somewhere over the rainbow and people like you were reacting like, huh, whoa. I plays the piano and it's not chopsticks. Right. It was it's decent. People started, I put up another one, people started saying, where's your tip jar? They're like, no, no, no, no, I that's. I'm not doing it for this. And then I was thinking, well, tip jar could be, uh, a donate link, right.
Alan Berg: 09:21 It could be a charity link. And I you're seeing the, you know, the food bank lines and stuff like that. And it was really, you know, it's, it's disturbing to see people who have always been able to put food on the table and all of a sudden, not in it, you know in such large numbers. And we've always donated locally to our food bank anyway. So long story, not so short, my videos, not every one of them has had a donate link, but we're at a little over $2,100, almost $2,200 raised from those videos. So something that was a dare. That's amazing too, that I take, I take requests.
Mike Zabrin: 09:59 Oh man. Well, now that I know, we just recently became friends on Facebook. So now we'll have to go back in and look at all of those. Did you guys ever jam together as employees? I know Megan Brown. She was a music business major and she's a singer. I did not know that. I didn't know it either, but I just made a connection. You guys should start a band.
Alan Berg: 10:16 Well, I, I have done some duets. Let's see. I did a duet with Jim Sarone, Who's a DJ out of Indianapolis. And I said, Jim, you tell me what song I'll play, the piano. You add the voice. We'll put it together. I did a duet with a French speaker friend of mine out in California. And then I did a duet with another speaker friend in Kansas city. And then there's a guy, bill Herman. I don't know if you know, bill Herman out of Minneapolis. So bill is again a great singer and I've already played the piano part. He has it. I'm waiting for him. So bill, if you're listening to this any day now, bill, you know, it's been like two months or whatever, and then we'll put them in different groups. So I can bill and I do it. We'll put it up in the DJ groups and stuff like that.
Alan Berg: 10:59 I've had other people say, Hey, you know, can you do this? Can you do that? And otherwise I just sit down and you know, if I hear something on the radio or whatever, I'll be like, oh yeah, I can do that. And some of them are funny because I have chosen not to pull out my electric keyboard. Right. I have an 88 key fully weighted with 500 voices and all this stuff. But as soon as I start to get into and you know, this, I, you know, if I get into the different drum beats and if I get into the different sounds, I'm going to just be sitting there all day. So I have chosen to sit at the piano and play sometimes play songs that are not piano songs, like while my guitar gently weeps. Right. I did that. And I've done that, you know, sticks come sail away.
Alan Berg: 11:41 I did the beginning to come sail away up until the guitar part, right. When it kicks in and it's just fun. It's just fun. And again, something people didn't know about me, but I've been playing since I'm six years old. And I in bands in high school and college. Yeah. It's just fun. But if I'm left with a piano by myself on par, probably playing something from the great American song book, because I just, you know, I can hear the vocals in my head, you know, like on the street where you live or things like that with there's a story being told, you know, it's not just people yelling, screaming. It
Mike Zabrin: 12:14 That's awesome. I want to dive into your latest book wit wisdom and the business of weddings. Now I don't read that many books Alan, even in high school. They'd give me a book and I'd go grab my base and look up the spark notes later. This is the one book that tells me to pick a chapter that relates to me and I read the entire thing front to back. And I made a which, which we were talking before we started this podcast. I made a pretty good sized profit on my own wedding business. Let's just say that a couple of days after reading your book and applying some of these methods, is this book really a hub for all of the info that you put out there and webinars and public speaking in recent years?
Alan Berg: 12:53 Well, the Genesis of the book actually came from my blog, which I, I call them articles, not blogs. So once a month I write an article on my website, but it's long, well, long compared to people's blogs. It's not 300 words. It's like 1200 words, 1500 words. You can still read it in five minutes. It's not like it's going to take you forever. So many of the chapters in the book were either a variation of, or sometimes exactly what I've written at some point on the block. So the way it started was I had helped a friend write a book that way. A friend of mine a few years ago had a, he said it was, you know, wedding MBA, the conference wedding MBA. So it was about six or seven weeks before wedding MBA. And he said, I'd like to get this done as an ebook before wedding MBA.
Alan Berg: 13:38 And I said, well, why not just get it done as a real book? Cause I know about print on demand. And you know, I know what I didn't know, years ago. And I said, do I have the book? And the book was, each chapter was a different topic. And I had never written a book myself that way my books were read the book here it is. Here's the whole book. So I already knew that was a concept and that we could work with that. So what I had my virtual assistant, they said, here's all my articles, you know, where they aren't on in our Dropbox, take all the articles and catalog them for me, you know? And then tell me, are they a business article? Are they a sales article? Are they an inspiration article? Are they a website article? What are they? And we came up with, well, over a hundred different articles.
Alan Berg: 14:17 I've written either for me or for other people, for other websites, for magazines and stuff like that. And then I called it down to the 45 that ended up in the book because there were some that overlapped too much or something like that. I left all the website stuff out because I've already written a website book and I'm planning on writing another website book. So I took all that content out. And the idea was exactly like you said, which you didn't do, but it's you open up the table of contents and you're looking in and you go, you know what, that's something I need to know more about. And you could go to chapter seven, 17, 20, whatever it is. And in three minutes or five minutes you got what you needed. That was it. That was the idea. And I was a little bit apprehensive because I had never written a book that was done that way.
Alan Berg: 15:03 And I didn't know if people would be like, huh, I wanted more about that topic or what actually happened was people coming back to me and saying, I love the fact that I can just read that part. And it takes me five minutes. So it turned into that, which is great in a real book or in an ebook, you can jump around. Obviously the audio version is a little harder to jump around. The deal is, I guess you can. I've never done that, but I guess you could jump ahead, but it's just, we live in such a soundbite kind of a world that it's kind of a soundbite book, right? It's you just took three minutes and you read that because you saw it. Some of them were two pages. Some of them were four or five pages and that was it. But as you know, this voice that you're hearing now is the voice in the book.
Mike Zabrin: 15:52 That's what I was going to say is that your books, they come across as very genuine and from someone who has watched a lot of your webinars, by the way you write, if it felt like I already knew you and you were on my computer screen while I was reading the book and even listening to the audio version, I mean, everything felt just like you is public speaking and writing something that is just always come natural to you.
Alan Berg: 16:16 It's difficult to allow yourself to be you right, to be that you, that much you, because some people are afraid of the way they might look, the way they might sound. You know how it is the first time people hear themselves through a recording or whatever. I hate the way I sound, you know, because you don't hear yourself the way other people hear you. I have become very comfortable with watching myself on video or listening to myself on audio and separating myself and saying, okay, do that better. Or why'd you do your hands that way or watching me, I would watch you or something like that. I think the idea of being in front of an audience, because I played in bands when I was in high school and college being on a stage is not intimidating for me. Right. Even though, yeah, I was the keyboard player.
Alan Berg: 17:02 And I know you said you were the bass player, so we're not there, you know, the sexy guitar player out front. And I get it, I get it there between my sons and I, we have, what are we 11 or 12 guitars, two bass guitars and some other stuff here. So I played bass also and guitar, but keyboard is my main instrument. But so being on stage was an intimidation thing. And if you really know what you're talking about, and you're confident that you know what you're talking about, that's a good start. And the reason I say it's a good start is because again, you've seen other people speak, you've seen other conferences just because you know what you're talking about. Doesn't mean you can get it across to other people. Yeah. And in the early days I would write a full script. You know, here's my script of what I want to say.
Alan Berg: 17:48 Here's what I want do. And I don't do that anymore. And I haven't done that for many years because I know what I'm talking about. So my slides are to keep me in order. But that's what I do unless I'm presenting in Spanish. If I'm presenting in Spanish, I have a full script. It's on my iPad and you're not getting any ad-libs and you know, Hey, Mike and I were in the hallway talking about this five minutes ago, actually quick, funny story. I was in Guatemala in 2019. It's supposed to present in English, even though they knew I could present in Spanish. And they said they had a translator. And I said, you sure? He said, yes, you sure. If I asked them five times, no joke, five times, great. I get down there or wherever in the hotel. And it's an hour before I'm going to go on.
Alan Berg: 18:31 And they told me the translator, oh my God. And I said, okay, I didn't bring my iPad because I didn't think I was presenting in Spanish. So even though my slides were in English and in Spanish, I said, could you get me an iPad to use? And it's funny, like they go in the room and somebody's speaking. And other people are taking notes and whatever. And they see somebody with an iPad and said, we need to borrow that. And the guy hands over his iPad, it's just like, boom, here you go. Here's my iPad. And now, so now I have his iPad, which all the menus and everything are in Spanish. And I have my phone and this is a great technology thing. I'm in Guatemala city in, uh, what was a crown Plaza. I go on my phone. I go to Dropbox and I got my notes.
Alan Berg: 19:16 From the last time I had presented in Spanish, I take his iPad and I airdrop from my phone to his iPad, pull it up in word. oh not word pages on his iPad match up my notes to my slides, which I had changed slightly. And then 10 minutes later, I'm on stage presenting in Spanish. Oh my God. But I told them, I said, listen, you gave me 45 minutes. And if I was presenting in English, especially with the translator, I need 45 minutes. Because when you speak with the translator, it's important to speak slower. It's important to leave some space because the translator is summarizing what you're saying and the faster you speak, they're actually saying. So I had experience with that. So I said, I need like 20 minutes. And they said, oh good. You can do Q and a it's like, okay. In Spanish, in Spanish.
Alan Berg: 20:09 Yeah. So, and they would help me if I needed it. So I did 20, 25 minutes of the presentation. And then the rest of the time I did Q and a and then, uh, about an hour or so later, I had another presentation and did that one, the same thing, but I needed The Knotes. Right? I, I, I need The Knotes for that because I'm going to be checking myself on there. Where, when I speak in English, I don't need The Knotes. That's actually my definition of a subject matter expert who speaks is someone who can get off the stage and continue the conversation they had on the stage with no notes, no slides, no anything. Then you're an expert,
Mike Zabrin: 20:47 Right? That's a great point.
Alan Berg: 20:49 Then you're an extra, it's like a, you know, you know, musicians that put any piece of music in front of them, they can play it, but give them 12 measures to riff and they can't do it. Right.
Mike Zabrin: 21:00 I've had a hard time in college playing my best when I'm staring at the music, because I can't focus on my instrument. It's kind of the same mentality there. I'd love to know about some of the experiences that you've had with other wedding pros that you mentioned in your book. What is the writing process like for you? Is it like, oh my God, this situation that happened today with this client was crazy. I can't get my mind off this. I have to write a book. This is going in there. Or is it the other way around where you're like, I'm writing a book and this conversation with this wedding pros in the back of my mind, that just came up as I'm writing about this subject,
Alan Berg: 21:34 It definitely starts with real life. First thing is, and I've had many people come to me in the industry and say, Hey, I'm thinking about writing a book. What do we need to know? And the first thing I tell them is don't write a book, write words, books become, because you edited the words into the format that made it into a book, right? So every month I write a new article and what do I do? I think about what's the last conversation I had. That was interesting. What did I see on Facebook? What did I see people talking about? What's getting under people's skin right now. You know, they're getting ghosted or postponements for the third time, or, you know, or whatever. One of the articles I think was about credit cards or stuff like that. And I see people talking, I'm like, why are we still having a debate about whether or not you should accept credit cards in 2021? Right? Like, why are we doing that? And that becomes an article because it's a thing, right.
Mike Zabrin: 22:26 That was a great one. I love when you were talking about putting that cost into your price. And that way, if somebody does ACH or another form of payment, you just made profit. Right. And
Alan Berg: 22:36 It's just a lot of, and you know this from our, from what you've seen and heard from me and read a lot of what I do is just try to change the way you see things, right? Just change your perspective. So the credit card fee is the credit card fee. And you can look at it any way you want. And what I said was for people who haven't read it is you build it into your pricing as if 100% of your collections are going to be through credit card. Just figure your prices that I'm going to have to give up my 3%, two and a half, whatever the number is to that every time. And then when you don't, cause they gave you a check, they gave you cash. They gave you ACH, like you said, or something you just made the difference. You know, you just made that up. I look at it and say, okay, my prices are such that I'm going to give up. I use square for most of my online stuff, square or PayPal. They're both about 3% these days, right? 2.9 or whatever. So I'm giving up that 3% done. And then all of a sudden, somebody sends me a check. I'm like, well, just made 3%, right? The end result is exactly the same, right? Your net is your net, but I'm not upset when they use credit card. I'm happy when they don't. That's a great, I
Mike Zabrin: 23:46 Want to talk about another moment in this book that really gave me goosebumps. And as a musician, as you know, we keep practicing our whole lives and we strive to be the best. Everyone needs to listen to my record, that just came out. Everyone needs to know my name. And you have a conversation with a DJ about who had a very low prices because he wanted to make sure he books as many weddings as humanly possible. And you ask them, why do you want so many weddings? And he said something like I'm paraphrasing. He said something like it would increase his standing within the industry and make them more well known. And you ask them if he wanted to have all of the weddings or put food on the table for his family. And I was just wondering if you could talk a little bit about being the best verse being the most profitable.
Alan Berg: 24:29 Yeah. So a lot of people, again, fall into our industry and they don't necessarily have business skills or a busy business mindset. So this DJ, it was, there were two of them. It was him and his main guy. They were higher priced than the average in the market. And he decided that he wanted to do 250 weddings a year because he thought that he'd be seen as a more serious player in his market. But to get to 250 weddings, he'd have to come in at a lower price point where there's more people that are looking for that. And I'm thinking, I said, well, so why, you know, what's important about this? And what was important to him was, again, it was a stature thing I said, oh, cause because you realize in order to do 250 weddings, you need to get more inquiries. You need to do more marketing.
Alan Berg: 25:17 You probably need more equipment now and you need more insurance. Now you might need more staff now just for handling the inquiries, all this kind of stuff. And I said at the price point that you're going out at, is there anything left for you? Like, like after you've charged people this lower point I say, and here my, my phrase to him was, are you trying to feed your ego or your family, right. If you're trying to feed your ego and, and you're okay with that, all right. But to me, that's not a good goal. Like I don't care. You know, I don't, it might, my goal is not that people see me and say, Ooh, cause I, you know, for what I do. And again, I've done this. I have the credentials, right? It's not important to me to have the celebrity status. Some people try to give me celebrity status and listen, I get it.
Alan Berg: 26:03 If you look at the resume, sometimes I look at it and I have to pinch myself right. Spoken in 14 countries on five continents. Right. I never would've thought this. I, when I fell into the industry, selling a magazine advertising in the Hudson valley, in New Jersey, you tell me that, you know, 20 years later, I'm flying around the world. Like what, what are you smoking there? Right. You have to decide what's important to you. And what's important. I think for me and my clients is profitability because profitability pays the rent, the mortgage, the car payments, your retirement, your kid's education, your vacation. That's what it does. It and too many people just don't charge enough in our industry for the wrong reasons. Right. I charged because this is what my competitors charge. I was like, well, they're, overhead's different. Their needs are different. Like maybe they're third generation and they own their building and you don't.
Alan Berg: 26:53 So you charge the same as them and now you can't pay them your rent. Right? So you have to look at this from a business standpoint. And that's why I said, I don't talk about weddings. I talk about business. The people that do weddings and events, right. And what I want you to be profitable. So I'm trying to get people to charge more. I, at this officiant, it was on my masterclass the other day. And I asked him what he charged. And he told me, and I was fell off my chair because in his market he should be charging at least double. Right? Not a little bit more, at least double, maybe more than that. And I'm thinking, how is he making any money? Well, he must have another job. He can't be doing this as full-time, which is what she does. But that's not the point.
Alan Berg: 27:32 I don't care. If you have another job, you should be charging more because the value you're giving is more right. And he was worried because he was like $275 for a ceremony. And there were people charging 50 or a hundred. I said, let them have those people. Right. You should be $500, right. Or more. So they look and say, well, there were a hundred he's 500. Wow. I wonder why he's so much more instead of you're a little bit more. And they're like, well, I'll go with the cheaper one. My business became busier. The more my price went up, the higher my price went so that people were like, huh. Cause if you can't tell the difference, this is the same for your band. If you can't tell the difference between the results you're going to provide and the results somebody else will provide, then whoever's cheaper wins. If you can't tell the difference. Right. Right. And the difference is not just the quality of the music. The difference is the experience of doing business with you, the differences, your website, the differences, your marketing, the differences, the way you treat them. And I once had somebody say to me, Alan, you're the most expensive speaker we have for this conference, but you're the easiest one to do business with. I said good. Because if I was the hardest one to do business within the most expensive, I wouldn't be here.
Mike Zabrin: 28:50 That kind of reminds me of another chapter in the book about setting your price based on value and not cost. And a lot of wedding pros are undervaluing their time. And you mentioned a lot of people are setting their price based on what someone else is charging. Like you said, we don't know their cost, their problem, ours with the overhead. Anything, if you are expanding. So let's say I live in Chicago, let's say we're doing a wedding in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. How can you compete with another city's local bands when your overhead for travel accommodations naturally is
Alan Berg: 29:20 Higher. Right? Well, it's actually a two-part question because let's say you moved to Milwaukee, right? And you come in and you're at a higher price point, right? You should be charging based upon again, the value that you give. Well, there are bands in Milwaukee that are charging less than you. There are bands in Milwaukee charging more, just like in Chicago, there were bands less than you and charging more than you. Why does somebody choose you now when you're higher priced in your local market? Okay. Right. And then when you say, okay, well, if I have to travel up to Milwaukee, if you are getting somebody that's that heard about you in Chicago, but they live in Milwaukee and they want you to come up, you tell them how much it is, including the travel and let them decide with their wallet. Right? You don't apologize and say, well, you know, we have to come up there.
Alan Berg: 30:08 You say fantastic. We love to do your wedding. So the price Including the travel, because we're going to, we're going to come up there. We're going to come in the night before we're going to have to stay over that night is going to be this. Should we get that reserved? And you don't apologize for it because it's not your wallet. It's theirs. So whether you're a local or whether you have to come up, it's the customer's perception of what you're, we're going to provide them. And I said this on a little mini mastermind I did for a wedding pro yesterday, you have to be selling the results of hiring you. Not the cost of hiring you and not the services because every band on paper let's face it. Right? If I made a list of what a band does for a wedding, kind of looks the same for every band.
Alan Berg: 30:49 Then it doesn't matter whether you're five pieces, seven pieces, nine pieces, right? You're going to get to prepare, find out the songs they want. You're going to have your set lists ready? You're going to be ready for requests. You're going to be, have the announcement, music, the ceremony, music, whatever it is and on paper doesn't look any different. It just doesn't look any different. So why did they pay you more now or why don't they pay you more now. Sometimes they don't pay you more. And this was kind of the point of the article. Sometimes they don't pay you more now because you didn't ask, you just didn't ask. Right? So I challenge people in the industry. And when I speak to people outside the industry, I challenge the same thing is how many more of your customers would have paid more already. So think about it with your band.
Alan Berg: 31:34 How many pieces you typically putting out for a wedding? Six to 12. Six to 12. Okay. So how many of your customers would pay a hundred dollars more than they paid already? All of them. Right. And if you did 50 weddings, I'm just picking numbers, right? They would have paid you a hundred dollars more is $5,000 in profit. It didn't cost you any more. Right? Right. You say to yourself, okay, well they would have paid a hundred. Would they have paid 150? If they would have paid 150, would they have paid 200 and you'll get to a point where you're going to say, you know what? Maybe three quarters of them would pay 300 more, 500 more whatever, but others might not. Okay. But did you turn away business because you were already booked. So maybe, maybe you could charge more on a Saturday night in season, but maybe not on a weekday, right? Or maybe you could charge more for the 12 piece, but not yet for the five-piece, but every dollar you raise your price without adding anything as profit, you gained and real important. Every dollar you discount without getting anything of value back as profit you gave away.
Mike Zabrin: 32:42 Wow. Yeah. That's a great point too. I was wondering, you know, if you go on The Knot there's a whole dedicated section where it says upload all of your pricing. It's a PDF there's as you know, the range to set your prices for on and off seasons on WeddingWire is pretty, pretty similar. And I was just wondering in a time where everything is so instant at the speed of a smartphone where people want answers right away. How do you go about giving them your pricing without speaking with them on the phone?
Alan Berg: 33:13 Yeah. So I understand why WeddingWire and then not do it. And again, I was at the nod for 11 years. We weren't doing it at the time. It was just dollar sign. So $1 sign, $2 sign, $3 sign, $4 sign. I'm not a big fan of PDFs for a few reasons. One is they don't open well on phones. They do open, but I mean, they're real tiny. So unless you formatted it for a phone screen, it's not going to be easy to read. They're also static documents. So if you have my PDF from six months ago and I changed something, you still have the document from six months ago. So I'm not a big fan of those. I do like price ranges. And you've heard me talk about this. You've probably read it in the books about this four ways. You can talk about price.
Alan Berg: 33:52 You can tell somebody, you can choose not to tell them yet you can do a starting price or you can give them a range. The advantage of a range is it creates what's called framing. And framing is giving you an idea of where your particular is. Range of prices, not the range of everybody, but your range. Because as you know, I'll use an example. So let's say you needed a new base. Well, you don't need anybody. So you wanted a new, let's go, let's go reality here. Right? You wanted a new base and you know what? The range is of basis because you've bought basis before, but you say to us, okay, so I want to get a base. That's different than the base I have now. You know, maybe you have a four string and a five string and maybe a six string would be kind of cool.
Alan Berg: 34:34 Maybe we're going to go for a six string, but you already know in your head that they go from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, right. You know, this range. And then you say to yourself, you know what, I'm going to look in this range. I'm going to go in the thousand to $2,000 range. And now you cut it down. You find people who were in that range. But what if you've never bought a bass before? Right? And you're like, I want to get a base. For instance, when my younger son was 13, my wife said, what should we get him for his birthday? And I said, let's get him a bass. He played piano. When you phoned him. I said, let's get him a base. And she was like, he doesn't want a base. He wants a video game. I said, well, I'm not buying him a video games.
Alan Berg: 35:11 You know, he's going to get a base. And if he doesn't want it I'll return it. So we went and bought him a starter set, right? Not a base that you would buy yourself now, but it was fine. Actually had a Rosewood neck. And it was nice. It was a, what I call first act was the, you know, the grand and the box included the base, the amp, the strap, the cord, the pic, you know, everything. We still have that base. And I got to tell you, it's pretty nice, right? You're not going to mistake it for a fender precision bass or a jazz bass, but it plays fine. It really does. It plays fine. So that $200 that we spent was fine. Fast forward when he was playing a little bit more, all of a sudden he's thinking, you know, maybe a Steinberger would be nice, right?
Alan Berg: 35:58 So Steinberger has got Steinberger composites and Steinberger stinger, which is what we, he ended up getting, which kind of looks like a offender body, almost like a Stratocaster body, but it's got that Steinberger with no, you know, no headstock on it. Yeah. So now we're talking into the hundreds of dollars or whatever, right. But we had already had an idea what they cost the problem. When somebody goes to hire you as a wedding band or a photographer or a DJ or a florist or a venue or whatever is they have nothing to compare it to. They have no framing. So the idea of putting a price range, either on your website, on your storefront, in an email to them, it's not to say that bans cost this, but it's the say that the range for our band, five pieces to 12 pieces to whatever is here, but you know, and I know that it might be five pieces to 12 pieces is here, but most couples they're going to end up seven pieces, AP, whatever it is.
Alan Berg: 36:56 And that's more like here. So if you said, we go from whatever the cost of a five-piece is to whatever the cost of a 12 piece is. And then most couples around here, you're giving them the framing to say, here's our range. If something within there is going to work for you, let's talk. If you have not budgeted anywhere near that, we wish you a lot of luck. We're just not the right fit. Right. But what starting prices are bad is again, five pieces to 12 pieces. I can only imagine the range rate from there. If you said we started X, nobody's going to pay your 12 piece price because you just gave them the idea that this is what we started at. And unfortunately, psychologically, the first number of people here is the number they expect to pay. So if you said we started X and then you find out that they're having 250 people and you're like black tie affair.
Alan Berg: 37:51 I was like, five pieces is not going to be right for this. Now you're quoting them two times, three times, four times the price. And they're like, Hey, what happened to that price? So the framing allows you that flexibility. And it's really important that the top number is very high because if it's not high and I'll give you an example, I did a master class and this floral designer and decor person in Toronto, she was quoting 6,000 to 10,000 plus, which isn't that big of a range. It's not even double. Right. But six to 10 plus, I said, so what are most people pay? And she said, eight to 10. I said, Ooh, you're saying that you need to buy to the top of my range. Right. I said, do you ever do 20,000? She said, yes. You ever do 30,000. She said, yeah. I said, we do the thirties. Often. She goes, not as often, but twenties, you know, we do those. I said, why don't you quote six to 20 plus most of our couples end up eight to 10. Now it sounds like you don't have to buy way up here. We can do that work if you need it, but you don't have to buy up there. And it just feels better. Sounds better. And it still keeps the $3,000 people away because that's not how.
Mike Zabrin: 39:04 And that concludes the first of a two-part series with Alan Berg. We're going to have him back on next week for more information on Allen's website, review and consulting and or sales training to get a copy of his latest books there to have Alan speak for your company, group or association, visit www.alanberg.com. His Instagram handle is at Alan Berg. It's not too late to get caught up for next week. Get the book wit wisdom and the business of weddings. We're going to be talking about ghosting. What is a ghost? Why are you getting ghosted? How to never get ghosted again. And when is a ghost not really a ghost? We're going to be talking about times when you think you're being helpful, but you're actually creating decision paralysis for the client, shifting your mindset to be the making it happen, person and not the center of attention. Why you should be selling the results before the service and how to discount without giving away profits, check out his website, www.shopalanberg.com You're going to find a lot of great stuff on his website. We talked about his latest book today, but you can get a three book bundle or another bundle, including all five of his books at a big savings. You are extraordinary. Thank you so much for sticking with us. We'll see you for part two with Alan Berg next week.