Where do couples look for our services? This is the question you have to ask yourself when delegating those precious marketing dollars. Wedding magazines, wedding shows and online wedding directories are the obvious choice. It’s where couples go to get ideas, shop vendors and plan the all the details of their dream wedding.
I don’t know about you but the last time I checked, I was one of hundreds of vendors in my category all vying for the same clients. Sure, we all try to stand out with elaborate wedding show booths, stunning imagery or paying for top online placement, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could somehow get our clients to look at only us and not the competition? Here are a few suggestions to start thinking about other ways to market yourself, making you the go-to vendor in your field.
Business Networking Groups
You might be asking yourself how networking with lawyers, auto mechanics and insurance salespeople will help your business, but I can tell you from experience it works. There are many groups out there for professionals offering weekly meetings, monthly events and online directories and education. I’ve personally been a part of BNI: Business Networking International, a local women’s networking group and my local chamber of commerce. I have gotten many referrals from my experience with each group and many of the relationships forged there have continued throughout my career. Everyone knows someone who is engaged or getting married, and you might even pick up some corporate gigs along the way. As a side benefit, I've built a solid network of professionals in the aforementioned industries and have been able to refer their services to my wedding colleagues.
Volunteering for a Cause
Whether you volunteer your specific event services or help in a more general capacity, benefits, races and fundraisers are a great way to network and get exposure for your business while making you feel good in the process. Almost everyone I know has an issue that is close to their heart and has affected their lives. Having a passion for a cause helps you to step out of business mode and just be human. Sometimes we get so caught up in profits and growth that we forget why we got into this industry in the first place. Volunteering is a way to ground yourself and your business as well as put things in perspective. I highly recommend doing this when you’re frustrated with some aspect of your career or just need to step away to reanalyze. If you don’t know where to start, look to your friends, family or clients for suggestions. A quick scan of social media will let you know who’s involved in what cause.
Advertising Online and In Print
Be where your competitors aren’t. If everyone is advertising in the most popular wedding directories and magazines you will be one of a dozen (on one of hundreds if you’re photographer) competing for the same business. Where can you advertise where you will be the only one in your service category? I’m not suggesting you throw money away here. Obviously you’re not going to get any leads from a platform that is specifically for another industry. Think more generally and try to tailor your ad to the readership. Most magazines have special sections throughout the year for weddings and events and offer special advertising for that section only. Try to find an online directory that is for a specific religious denomination that you cater to such as Jewish or Catholic publications. What else will couples be shopping for in or around their weddings? a new home? a honeymoon? a new job? These are all areas where they would not expect to find a caterer or a florist but you could have their undivided attention if you were the only wedding vendor in their sights.
Try to think of ways that will separate you from the crowd and get your brand in front of prospective clients. Not all referrals come from wedding specific marketing and you may find success with something more unconventional. Find what interests you and see if there is a way to bring in business from your hobbies, passions and relationships outside of the industry. In this highly competitive world you need to use all your skills to get ahead. Don’t neglect the things that set you apart; they may be your greatest asset.