(Editor's Note: Today we're kicking off our July content theme: marketing! Yes, we covered this back in January, but given that we're halfway through 2016, it's time to revisit this important topic to keep our wedding businesses thriving! Keep an eye on our blog throughout the month of July for resources, support and inspiration on wedding business marketing!)
I suppose you could say that the headline for this post is a pretty bold claim. Yet, I believe it's totally accurate. After all, many small businesses, wedding businesses included, go under because their owners lose track of the big picture. It's so easy to get bogged down with all the demands of carrying out our contracted events that we forget to monitor everything that goes into attracting those events and clients. Now that the May and June madness are behind us, it's the perfect opportunity to look back at our 2016 marketing and determine what's working so far.
Your mid-year marketing checkup will involve assessing your business' year-to-date performance in three key areas: return on investment, brand integrity, and what you really need to do right now.
Return on Investment
Just as you'd probably guess, this refers to whether or not you got what you paid for in terms of your marketing costs. Start by comparing your incoming inquiries (leads) to the cost of the source from which those inquiries originated. Remember that, ideally, you should be making back more than you spent (not just breaking even), and that you should be gaining exposure to prospective clients who may not have found you another way. Keep in mind also that you need to evaluate all of your costs when it comes to your marketing, including the hidden ones. Here are some examples.
- Paid advertisements, both in print and online: the cost of placing the ad, as well as any costs incurred in creating it (graphic designer, copywriter, etc.)
- Wedding shows: the cost of renting a booth, the materials given away in your booth, any expenses related to the design or display of your booth, any materials included in "swag bags," any door prizes or raffle giveaways, staffing costs, travel costs, etc.
- Online marketing: website hosting fees, template subscriptions, email hosting, and any costs for web development/design/tech support
- Promotional mailings: the cost of the actual items mailed (such as postcards or brochures, as well as envelopes and postage), and any labor costs associated with preparing the mailings
- Referral source thank-you gifts and holiday cards and gifts: the cost of the gifts/cards themselves, any mailing costs (envelopes/boxes/postage), delivery expenses, staffing expenses, any costs incurred in creating the cards/gifts (graphic designer, gift buyer, etc).
- Networking: association dues, meeting costs, travel expenses, cost of lunch/coffee/drinks with other professionals
- Printed collaterals: business cards, brochures, presentation folders, welcome kits, personalized stationery, pens, shirts, other giveaways
- Apps, software, or other materials utilized in your marketing: the cost of social media schedulers, graphics software or paid subscription sites, etc.
For all of the above forms of marketing, ask yourself: was it worth the cost, was it worth my time, and did it represent my brand well? (We'll examine that last part more in the next section).
This is something that can also be diluted as business owners get busier and busier. However, the further your marketing strays from the intentional brand you created, the less effective it will be in attracting your ideal client and setting the right expectations for your business.
Take time this month to look at everything that represents your business - such as your printed collaterals, your website, your ads, and so on - and determine whether they reflect your brand accurately. Will they appeal to the clients whom you most want to work with, and the other vendors whose referrals you most covet? Does anything need an upgrade? (Acknowledging you need to make a change doesn't mean you have to make that change now - but having it in the back of your mind is better than not considering it at all!)
Also, be sure to evaluate the people who represent your business, as well as the physical space in which you work. Does your staff align with your brand in terms of their communication with your clients, their understanding of your business and its products or services, and even their appearance and style? If you notice any shortcomings now, you can make plans to offer additional training or even make staffing changes as necessary. Take the same critical look at your studio, storefront or office - if clients or colleagues meet you there, does the space feel inviting, professional and like a good fit for the brand you've created?
(Remember: we all could use a tweak of our brand at some point, and by the time we get around to it, it's usually way overdue! Get comfortable with letting go of old marketing materials that no longer serve you, and check out our workbook on designing a wedding business brand with purpose and authenticity!)
What Do You Still Need to Do?
You have six more months to get through in 2016, and your wedding business hopefully will be around for many years after that. It's essential that you really evaluate your business with your eyes wide open, and face whatever tasks you've been putting off.
- Do I have enough new leads coming in to book the amount of sales I need to survive? If not, what do I need to do right now, in the next 3-6 months, and next year to increase the volume of inquiries I'm getting?
- What parts of my marketing have I found too overwhelming, or even intimidating, to tackle myself? What might I need to outsource to a graphic designer, strategist, social media manager or copywriter?
- How do I feel about my marketing and branding in general? Do I feel the need to consult with trusted colleagues in a brainstorming group, or even a professional business coach, for fresh perspectives and strategies?
By digging deep now, you can implement mindful changes that will get you through the remainder of 2016 and set you up for success long after that.