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  • Robin Hawksworth

"Let us cater your wedding for free"​.... a massive marketing lesson!


Now that headline right there.... is real click-bait. It is purely designed to grab your attention....But what would happen for your business if this statement was is fact true and you offered services for free?


The story - When I was a young(er) man, a General Manager came into a meeting one day and instructed the sales team to do just as the headline stated... go-out and sell weddings from free.


As you can imagine everyone in the room looked at each other blankly while muttering under their breath "What the F&%^?" "Give away our lucrative weekend trade for free?", "has he gone completely mad".....that was until he unveiled his genius plan.

For every wedding booked we print a personalised book of 10 uniquely numbered vouchers each guaranteeing the deliver of 10% cash-back to the person paying the final bill (usually the father of the bride in the UK) each time a voucher is used to book another wedding. The new wedding should be booked for the same value or greater. As soon as the second wedding is paid we immediately delivered the 10% of the original bill back to the owner of the voucher. The second wedding gets their personalised vouchers.... etc, etc.

These vouchers had no other terms and conditions and no expiry date... No twists, no small print and no tricks.


This sounds like a very simple referral scheme until you look at the psychological as well as business related issues.


Human psychology.

If you have two daughters, you will understand that contributing to their weddings needs to be exactly the same in value, scale and emotion. Sibling rivalries sometimes do not disappear over night. Encourage fathers to use the same venue can be a very welcome option, especially if the incentive is a financial one.

Then there is the inherent need to give away all of your vouchers quickly in the hope of an immediate return on your investment. This is where extended family and work colleagues enter the story. Most large families live with in a few miles of each other so it is rare an entire brood up-sticks completely and moves away from their historical family roots. This offers up Cousins, Aunties, Brothers, Nephews, Nieces and even second marriages to your family referral infrastructure.


Who knows they may also become regulars of the venue for other get togethers. Birthdays, anniversaries, christenings etc..


Your businesses need periods

Most weddings are booked a number of years in advance due to preferred dates. These range from Spring through Mid September and fall mainly on weekends, therefore it is rare a wedding will fall mid-week or in the depths of Winter.

Now as these vouchers are returned to the hotel, the popular dates will be quickly reserved some time in advance, which gives the opportunity to offer alternative dates and to design creative wedding packages that add value to non-popular times of year.

Match this with local religious venues availability dates and key public holidays such as Christmas and dates suddenly get tight. This opens up the promotion of civil ceremonies at your venue as well the ability to extend the vouchers to retirements or engagements if the need arises.


Would you try this in your business?

This is what I like to call a calculated risk as it builds value, extends relationships as well as showing no hidden agenda. If every person in the chain gains their full benefit then the business does too.

Most business people would not do this as they seek to gain the upper hand at all times. How many of us promote only when we need to push old stock out of the door or offer timed discounts to suit our needs and not that of our customers? I would say 95% of them.

This system works extremely well for selling physical objects such as cars but can also be beneficial for services as diverse as banking or the marketing industry itself.

Would you offer your customers their money back in this way for actively promoting you in the local community?



I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

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