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Today is the day — the day that I turn the Big 4-0 (Holy crap, how did that happen? I still feel so 2-6ish).
Anywho, in celebration of, well, me…I thought I’d share 40 marketing lessons you can apply to your biz. These are marketing lessons for wedding planners (from a former wedding planner, marketing guru, word addict, and numerous other hats I wear). These are lessons that I have learned and acquired over the years (albeit not 40 years of them, but…) and now you can benefit and profit from them.
Enjoy…and Happy Birthday to me!
1. Niche it to rich it
You have to choose your niche, focus on your niche, and cater all of your marketing efforts and marketing messages to that niche. You CANNOT market to ALL types of brides and couples and expect to succeed in your marketing. Some niches to consider (not an inclusive list):
- Destination weddings
- Luxury weddings
- Shoe-string budget brides
- Second marriages
- High-end weddings
- Intimate weddings
- Weddings for a specific venue
Again, these are not your only options. In fact, the options are endless, but narrowing down your niche allows you to focus everything you do in marketing your business AND increases your booked weddings.
2. Know your clients
Ask yourself this…how can you create Facebook ads, email marketing campaigns, or any marketing at all if you don’t know who you are sending these messages? You have to know the type of clients you are marketing to so you can create services, products, packages, and marketing campaigns that are meaningful for them. Your messaging for a destination wedding couple is completely different than that for a high-end wedding couple.
3. Messaging has to speak directly to them
In order to nail your marketing message, you have to know your clients like you know the back of your hand (no cliche intended). This is another reason why a niche is sooooooooo important. When you narrow your niche, you know the brides, grooms, and couples so well that you speak straight to their heart — providing solutions to their pains, problems, and worries about planning their dream wedding.
4. Can’t follow all the trends
It seems like everyday, a new marketing “trend” pops up. You have to use Facebook. You have to have a listing on some wedding website. You need reviews on this site or that site. The fact of the matter is…you CANNOT follow all the trends and expect a landslide of business to come your way. When you know your clients and create messages that speak directly to them, you then have to get the message in front of them where those clients hangout. If they hangout in your Facebook group, then that’s where you should be too. If they are on your email list, then land those messages in their inboxes. Figure out where YOUR brides are and what works for your biz and forget about the rest.
5. Hire professionals
“If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.” The saying goes something like that and could not be more true. You probably feel the same way when brides tell you that they can’t afford to hire a wedding planner or that a wedding planner is too expensive. Have the same thought process when you are putting together your marketing materials for your biz. Make sure you have a professional presence from your website copy AND design to the postcards you drop in the mail and the e-newsletters you send out once a month.
6. You have to connect with them
You know better than anyone that landing a client is all about the relationship you form with them — the connection you have. If they don’t feel connected to you, then, well…they aren’t going to hire you. How you speak to them through your website copy, emails, and anything you get in front of them with speaks volumes to them. Something you say strikes them — connecting them with you — and makes them want to work with you, hire you, plan their wedding with you.
7. Build a relationship before you try to sell them
One of the biggest mistakes I see wedding planners make is trying to book a bride, groom, or couple right out of the gate. It’s so sales-y (and most think a bit on the sleazy side). While your ultimate goal is for them to hire you, you have to build relationship with them before you can ease them into signing on the dotted (or solid) line of your contract. People do business with people they know, like, and trust, so you have to build a relationship with them before you sell them on your services. The best way to do this is by sharing content, your knowledge, and information via email, in person, or with a free guide, checklist, or ebook.
8. Bridal shows are not the end all be all
If all you do is attend a show, grab the list, market, and expect your calendar to fill up like clockwork, you are in for a big disappointment. Market your biz beyond bridal shows. While bridal show marketing can be part of your marketing efforts, make sure you are obtaining subscribers from your website, sending out regular emails toy our list, hosting webinars or in-person educational sessions, and doing a variety of things to attract AND engage prospects and clients.
9. Other wedding planners are your allies
The wedding planning industry should not be a cutthroat one. There is plenty of business out there for everyone. Other weddings planners are your allies. You can learn so much from each other. You can even refer business to each other! When I was a wedding planner, I referred brides to other planners (and vice versa) when they contacted me for a wedding date that I already had booked. I even hired wedding planners (and vice versa) as an extra set of EXPERT hands for some of my events. No throat cutting over here…Build relationships with your colleagues and soak up all the benefits these relationships can bring.
10. It’s all about them and has nothing to do with you
Your marketing messages, the copy you use on your website, and what you say to them in an email is ALL, ABOUT. THEM. and nothing about you. Word everything so that it shows how it benefits them rather than tooting your own horn. In other words, speak directly to them using “you” and “your” rather than “I,” “we,” and “our.” Honestly, they don’t care about you. They are SELFISH (no matter how sweet they are) and only care about what you can do for them. So…TELL THEM!
11. Weave your brand/messaging through everything
Use consistent marketing messages in everything you do. Your brand and messaging should be the same on your website as it is in the brochure that you hand out at a bridal show or a checklist that give to brides during a consultation.
12. Always be you
Be you, nobody else can do it. Be you when you write your website copy and any other marketing copy you create. When you are yourself, you attract the right couples, build relationships with them, and get them to hire you. It’s a natural process. The last thing you want to do is present one way on your website and then when they meet with you, you’re giving off a completely different vibe.
13. Always be learning
New marketing techniques hit the market all the time. Some come and some go (sometimes just as fast). Some come and stay forever and some just come and stay for now. It’s important that you check out the new stuff and determine if it is something that can be beneficial to your business because it is beneficial to your dreams brides or because your dream brides are already on-board with it. Keep in mind that knowledge is power, so make sure that you are always learning better ways to attract, engage, and land your dreamiest of dream brides.
14. Expensive isn’t always better
Throwing good money after bad is not the way to ensure you have an influx of business. Building an expensive website doesn’t ensure that you’re going to book more brides. Spending hundreds of dollars on Facebook ads doesn’t ensure your ad is going to be a success. Focus more on the quality of the website design and copy or Facebook ads than what it costs — because no matter what the cost is, if it doesn’t work then…well, you get the idea.
15. Be an educator/resource
Always teach and share your knowledge with prospects and clients. Be their resource. Sharing info with this group builds you as the credible expert that you are in the minds of brides. Sharing information and being a resource to brides starts and builds that relationship we talked about earlier.
16. Talk the talk and walk the walk
When you write website copy or craft your marketing messages, it’s important that you talk like your dream brides. Use words your clients use. Just as important — you have to walk the walk. Make sure you can backup what you say, no matter where you say it.
17. Words pack powerful punch
Use your words wisely, When you use the right words (the right words vary depending on your segment of brides), you attract the right brides. If you are targeting high-end brides, but are using words like shoe-string budget, uh, you’re probably missing your mark. While high-end brides might not mind saving a few bucks here and there, it’s not what is most important to them.
18. Colors have meaning
When you’re building your brand, colors play as an important as a role as the words you choose. For example, shades of blue can be soothing and are thought to represent and attract money. Maybe this is why Tiffany Blue is Tiffany & Co.’s signature color. Think about that for a minute.
19. Test, test, and then test again
Unfortunately, marketing and copywriting is not an exact science. Sigh. You can, however, test things out to see what works best for you and your biz. In order to run a true test, however, you can only change one item at a time to see what is really affecting your results. For example, if you want to test the headline on your About Me Page, only change the headline, but keep everything else on the page the same — copy, images, pictures, and all.
20. Don’t toot your own horn
Try to leave “we,” “I”, and “our” out of your copy and vocabulary as much as possible. (Remember they don’t really care about you, but rather what you can do for them.) Rather than talk about how great you are and how creative you are and how wonderful your biz is, let your past (and even your current) clients toot your horn for you by using testimonials they provide to you. (It’s kind of a turnoff when you do it, but attractive when fellow brides tell brides how great you are.)
21. Ask your dreamiest of dream brides — don’t assume you know what they want
While you try to think like a bride as much as possible, you’re a service provider. Never assume you know exactly what is important to your dream brides. Ask them. Tweak your marketing and your marketing messages to meet (and exceed) their needs and to solve their problems and be the answer to their prayers.
22. Appearances matter
Have a professional domain for your website and use a domain email address (not your Yahoo!, Gmail, or other personal email). It looks professional and like you have a professional business when you use a domain and domain email. It appears (and clients and prospects say it) unprofessional when you’re running a business website on a free site domain extension and showing a free email account as your contact email.
23. Content is king
Brides are information hounds. They look to you to share content with them. Content takes on soooo many forms, so don’t feel like you have to be a wordsmith to make this happen. Share videos, articles that experts in your industry write, your own articles and blog posts, infographics, pictures (of your gorge events), audio files, etc.
24. Strategy is queen
While content is king, strategy goes hand in hand with it. You can’t create content and just start throwing it at your prospects and clients. Create a strategy on what content you’re going to create and share and how you’re going to distribute it.
25. Pictures do speak a thousand words
Share your photos, gals (and guys)! One of my fave things to do on Mondays is to scroll through all my social media accounts to look at the gorge wedding photos you post from the weekend. Your brides want to see the same thing — on your website, in your blog posts, in your emails, and on your social media accounts. (It goes back to that you don’t have to toot your own horn because your pictures show rather than tell.)
26. Treat it like a dog — if it doesn’t work, pee on it, kick some grass on it, and move on
I think this one speaks for itself.
27. Partner and collaborate
Partner up and collaborate with some of your fave vendors. Cross-promote your services to each other’s lists. Share the ad costs for the hottest local wedding pub. Run a webinar together to gather bride leads (and then add them to your list and communicate with them on an ongoing basis). Publish each other’s blog posts on each other’s blogs. Remember, you and your fave vendor have the same dream clients, so partnering up gives you access to swim in a pool of the dreamiest of dream clients.
28. What works for others might not work for you
You watch your competitors closely (Keep your enemies close, right? I’m kidding, of course.). You notice that a fellow wedding planner in your area has a listing on a local wedding site. You run into said planner at a networking event and they can’t rave enough about how much business that listing is landing them. You run back to your office and pay for a listing on the same site, but it’s like crickets (Your phone isn’t ringing, you’re not receiving inquiries from it — nothing, nada, zilch.) What works for someone else might not work for you — for a myriad of reasons.
Do what you do best and delegate the rest. Don’t feel like you have to be an expert copywriter or marketer. Pay an expert to handle these items for you. In the end, you make more money because you have the time to focus on your money-making efforts — planning and pulling off those fab weddings.
30. Sometimes you have to pay for good info (and to save time)
If you tackle stuff on your own, pay for good info. Can you find free info spread out all over the Internet? Sure, but it’s going to take up A LOT of your time to find it. Find the top experts for whatever it is you need and pay for the information products, bootcamps, ecourses, or ebooks they offer. They’ve done all the work — compiling all the info for you. Remember, time is money.
31. Online is where it’s at
The majority of your brides (if not 100% of your brides) are online — searching for wedding planning info, searching for vendors, searching for a wedding planner. Find and use online marketing techniques that work for you and your biz.
32. Local is where it’s at
You have a local biz or work in a specific geographic area. Find the local wedding avenues that work for marketing your biz.
33. SEO is not as scary as you think
Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a key role in your search engine rankings. I taught it to myself and continuously rank #1 and on the first page of Google for my keywords. Especially with great WordPress plugins, you can easily put SEO to work for your biz (or delegate it to one of the people in your office). If you decide to hire an expert, do your homework first and try to find someone that specializes in working with wedding pros like you.
34. Share and tell before you sell
Share info and tell them some expert advice before you start trying to get them to hire you. If they type over their email address to receive your free checklist, your next email can be an offer for one of your products or services. Try to avoid being sales-y right out of the gate; it can be a turnoff.
35. Expertise and credibility mean something
I talk a lot about how it is all about them and not about you in your marketing efforts. Your expertise and credibility do mean something, though. By combining all of the marketing efforts we’ve been talking about this entire time, you can build your credibility and portray your expertise.
36. Perspective is everything
Think like a bride, not a wedding planner. This is true in everything marketing. When you choose your words or your angle for your marketing, think of it from the bride or the couple’s point of view. Then, present the benefits to them — from their perspective. If you build a wedding budget for them, how does this benefit them? Does it save them time? A headache? Money? Allow them to focus on the rest of their life? The benefit totally depends on your niche of brides, but always think of how what you do benefits them — and then use that!
37. Guest blogging is gold
Showcase your expertise by writing and publishing guest blog posts. Guest blog posts can be a goldmine for building your list and getting in front of new brides that you might not otherwise reach. The key to publishing guest blog posts is finding the right blogs –it has to be blogs where pools of your ideal brides, your dreamiest of dream brides are swimming and hanging out.
38. Build a list
Build a lead list of potential, current, and past brides. The quantity of your list isn’t as important as the quality of your list, but building a list is a key element of your online marketing efforts.
39. Communication is key
As you are building your list, then you have to communicate with your list. Set a schedule for communicating with them and let them know how often they can expect to hear from you. Once a week or every other week is a good schedule for sending out emails to your list that are rich with JUICY wedding planning info, tips, advice, and news.
40. It’s about more than price
The cost of your service is a factor in whether or not a bride hires you, but it is not the only factor. Credibility, experience, trust, creativity, rapport, and reputation are but a few of the other factors brides consider when hiring a wedding planner. Keep these in mind when you are writing your marketing messages and creating your marketing pieces, so that you can portray yourself and your company in the right light to land their business.
And here’s one to grow on…
It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be out there. Your content, website, or any other marketing you do does not do you any good if it is sitting on your computer, where you are the only one that sees it. Stop waiting for “perfection” to get it in front of your brides. Just get it in front of them. You can always perfect it later. Don’t get me wrong. This does not mean to send a hot mess out into the bridal universe, but do get it out into the universe so it can start working for your biz.
I’m Kristie Lorette McCauley. I have a word addiction and I’m not afraid to use it (or admit it).
In my past life, I was a certified wedding planner. In my current life, I am the wedding planner content + copy writer.
I use my writing + wedding planning experience to turn your thoughts into words that land you DREAM brides + grooms + book your calendar solid.