As wedding business owners, most of us don't (yet) have the luxury of outsourcing all our marketing to a pro, or retaining a marketing person on our team. We have to keep up with the seemingly endless task of marketing our services ourselves, and it can quickly become overwhelming. (Funny how good marketing can bring in more clients, and then serving those clients leaves you so little time for more good marketing!)
Fortunately, there are some tips and hacks you can use to make the job of marketing your wedding business easier. Most of them involve keeping yourself organized (in terms of time and materials) and ensuring your marketing efforts are tailored toward your specific clientele and your business goals.
Here are five things you can do to streamline your wedding business marketing in 2016:
1. Know whom you're trying to reach. This seems obvious, but you wouldn't believe how many wedding pros (and business owners in other industries, too) have no idea of their "ideal client." Sure, most of us want to work with decent human beings who have money to spend on our service or product, but your real target clientele needs to be much more narrow than that. A business coach (such as <cough> yours truly) can help you develop a comprehensive profile of your dream client, but in the meantime, here are a few things you should ask yourself:
- Do more women, or more men, tend to be leading the process of inquiring, consulting with, and hiring me for their wedding? (The wedding industry is ridiculously bride-centric; however, in some service categories, it's actually the grooms taking the lead. And some wedding businesses serve primarily same-sex couples with no women in sight!)
- What are the basic demographics of my ideal client? Age, geographic location, education level, income, background? Why are these specific demographics the ones I'm targeting?
- What does my ideal client prioritize when it comes to their wedding? Which services and expenses are the most important to them? What do they want to see and feel at their wedding? What do they want their guests to experience?
- Where does my ideal client look for inspiration, particularly when it comes to wedding planning? Do they rely on blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, chat boards, print magazines, wedding shows, or do they prefer to leave everything in the hands of a capable planner?
- Assuming my ideal client can afford my product or service, what are their attitudes toward parting with money? What kind of research do they do when they're making major purchases? What needs to be done to earn their confidence and trust?
Again, these questions are just the tip of the iceberg, but are a great start to helping you determine whom you want your marketing to attract. And knowing that gives you a tool by which to measure every marketing campaign you're considering: would my ideal client find this appealing, would this give them what they need to feel comfortable hiring me, does this fit with the image I'm trying to project to them?
2. Simplify your life by having marketing tools you can use yourself. We're not all super tech savvy (in fact, some of the most talented wedding pros I know aren't), but I can promise you that your life will be SO MUCH EASIER if you have the ability and know-how to make simple updates and tweaks yourself. Believe me, I'm the world's biggest fan of outsourcing, but I also find it incredibly frustrating to have to wait on someone else to do something as simple as update a little piece of text in my online marketing - not to mention, I really hate paying the bill for something I should have been able to do quickly and easily myself!
Here are my suggestions for things you should be able to (or learn how to do) yourself, along with my tried-and-true resources for DIY marketing:
- Make simple text changes and swap out images on your website, without screwing the whole thing up. (I've become a Squarespace convert, as it's the easiest and most beautiful drag-and-drop platform out there.)
- Update your own blog. Now, I'm a big advocate for letting a professional writer create content for you (as you may guess, given that I own a blogging and copywriting service). But if you don't know how to log into your blog, create a post with text and a graphic, publish it and promote it, you're doing yourself, and your business, a huge disservice.
- Edit photos. You definitely don't need Photoshop for this - a quick Google search turns up tons of easy photo editing sites and software. What you need is something that will allow you to optimize photos for the web and crop and enhance them for your specific needs - though of course you'd never edit a professional photographer's images without their permission, right? Right. (I use PicMonkey, a ridiculously basic and free website, for basic edits, like cropping headshots to a circular shape for my Authentic Boss email bulletin.)
- Make simple promotional graphics. Whether it's a custom image for social media, a flyer for a wedding show, or a header for your blog, at some point you'll want a branded graphic, and you should know how to make it yourself. (Canva is my go-to for this, although the aforementioned PicMonkey site has some of the same functionality.)
If you lack the knowledge to do any of these things yourself, please take the time to ask someone who does - you'll feel more empowered and less restricted by the workloads of others.
3. Have a "brand bible" at your fingertips. If your brand was created by a professional designer, they should have given you a style guide to refer to going forward. If not, it's not too late - you can put one together yourself, and use it to guide all your DIY marketing. Some style guides include a "mood board" with evocative imagery meant to inspire, but that's not required; the most important elements of your style guide should, however, include the following:
- Your specific brand colors (with RGB codes so the colors can be replicated in any project), to be used throughout all of your marketing for a consistent image. The number of colors is up to you and can vary depending on your marketing needs. For example, WeddingIQ has just two brand colors, specific shades of orange and teal, which we accent with regular old white and black. My Authentic Boss brand, on the other hand, has 10 total brand colors identified, a mix of blues, greens, silvers and grays.
- Your specific brand fonts - a serif and a sans serif, at a minimum. (You don't want too many fonts, as that becomes confusing and cluttered, but you do want one you can use for longer text-based marketing and one or two you can use for headlines and "pop" elements.)
- Any specific images (whether your own photos or legally-acquired stock images) that are going to be used repeatedly in your marketing, as well as any other design elements you'll regularly use, such as a particular style of border, button, divider line, etc.
- Your logo, in at least two formats (e.g. one horizontal and one vertical or tight square, for maximum versatility). You should have your logo in both a high-resolution vector file and a lower-resolution, transparent PNG file. Nothing looks worse than a logo with a white background being dropped onto a dark-colored marketing piece.
- By keeping your "brand bible" handy, you can much more easily create appropriately branded, professional-looking marketing pieces on your own, any time you want. (One more quick plug for Canva - if you subcribe to their Canva for Work service, you can create a brand guide and set up your logos, fonts, colors and even various graphic templates, saved right within their site!)
4. Get organized and get scheduled. I am one of the most scattered people ever, so it's really easy for me to get overwhelmed if I don't check myself every so often. Organizing, planning and scheduling your marketing efforts ensures you're approaching your marketing with intention, and not just throwing things together as ideas strike. Here are my suggestions for how to keep on top of your marketing in this manner:
- Have a centralized location where you'll store your online marketing materials (whether it's folders on your desktop or server, or in a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive). Have your style guide, logos, marketing photos, and any design files saved in a way that makes sense to you and that will enable you to quickly add what you need.
- Create a marketing strategy and budget to use throughout the year. The specifics will obviously depend on your type of business, but you should be able to look at the year ahead and plan for major things like wedding shows, print and online ads, promotional mailings, client/colleague gifts, etc. Of course, you should also leave yourself a little "slush" for additional opportunities that may arise over the course of the year, but starting off with a plan is always a great idea.
- Use a content calendar for your blog and social media. Planning out the topics of your blog posts and social media posts in advance means you'll ultimately create a more strategic, dynamic online presence, because you're able to vary the content and tailor it to whatever is most important to promote in your business, rather than just leaving it to chance (or leaving it altogether). Plus, like many tasks, coming up with lots of blog and social media topics at one time makes it easier than just doing it piecemeal as you go along.
- Embrace the scheduler. If your blog allows you to write and schedule posts in advance, brilliant! You'll be so glad you've taken advantage of this feature when your blog is churning out content while you focus on other things. And I've swooned over social media schedulers before, so I won't belabor that point too much - except to say YOU NEED ONE. I've used and loved Buffer in the past, but I'm currently having quite a love affair with Edgar (for Facebook and Twitter) and Schedugram (for Instagram). There's something so satisfying about taking an hour or two to knock out a week's worth of targeted, brand-centric, intentional social media posts, and then being able to forget about it.
- Organize your offline marketing, too. Make sure you're aware of your current supply of any printed collaterals you use in your business, such as business cards, brochures, presentation folders, pens and similar items. Re-ordering before you run out ensures you can avoid rush fees, and if you want to change up the design, you can make that decision before you're suddenly in need of the items but have none. If you do wedding shows, make sure you're regularly cleaning out the box (or boxes) in which you transport your materials, replacing anything that's in shoddy condition and replenishing your stock of flyers, postcards, giveaway items, etc.
5. Have a way to check your work. If you're putting the effort into marketing your business, you need to know how to determine what is and isn't working. That allows you to make more conscious decisions about your marketing efforts in the future - and let me tell you from my own experience, when you open your eyes to the effectiveness of your various campaigns, sometimes you'll be surprised by what you see! Here are a few things you should be aware of when evaluating your marketing:
- Website analytics are your friend! I'm a longtime user of Statcounter for all of my sites, but I know lots of people are Google Analytics fanatics. Regardless of what you use, you should know how many people are visiting your site (and which pages they're viewing and how long they're spending there) and where they're coming from.
- If you use a contact form on your site, add a question (ideally with a drop-down menu of options) about how they found you. Train yourself, and anyone else who fields phone calls or email inquiries, to ask all incoming clients this same question.
- Keep track monthly - but not more often than that, unless you want to drive yourself crazy - of your total followers on each of the social media platforms you use, so you can see if your content is boosting your audience.
- If you do wedding shows, make sure to keep notes of how many people requested additional information from you at your booth, and how many of those people eventually booked your services (or at least interviewed you).
- If any of the websites you advertise on send you monthly or quarterly stats, read them! If you're keeping track of your traffic yourself, cross-checking it against the reports you're receiving from your advertising sites can be an interesting exercise, and also gives you the opportunity to discuss any discrepancies.