This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.
What you are probably missing in your LGBTQ marketing strategy…and what it costs you
Those of you who have been in the wedding business for a while have come to expect the steady onslaught of email invitations and phone calls inviting you to advertise on blogs, in directories or with other business tool-related services. And, as I’m sure you know by now, all offers are not created equal. That’s especially true when it comes to trying to understand where to invest your advertising dollars to let same-sex couples know that you see them and are prepared to serve them.
Is it worth it?
As you consider your ad buys at the end of each term, it’s important that you ask yourself: Was the return on investment (ROI) worth it? And, if the ROI does seem to be measuring up, it’s then important to ask a deeper question: What is the cause of the poor performance of the ad buy?
When it comes to thinking about an ad buy targeting same-sex couples as prospective clients, possible answers to the second question – why is my ROI so poor? – could be the fault of the media/source you chose. Or it could be a fault of your own making. So before you cast blame, take a deeper look at the cause of the breakdown.
Common failures include:
- Making an impulsive buy when contacted by a salesperson because the pitch sounds like it fits a need, even though you haven’t reviewed your business plan and the goodness of fit of the investment;
- Making an impulsive buy when contacted by a salesperson because the pitch sounds like it fits a need, even though you haven’t asked the salesperson the right questions to determine how that return on investment will really work for your business;
- Signing up to advertise in a new directory or publication that purports to specialize in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) market, but doesn’t actually have the reach, relevance or readership for your services or doesn’t offer any clear reports on the effectiveness of the buy;
- Purchasing and setting up a listing with images and text that you’ve used in the past without taking the time to learn more about what will ring as authentic and meaningful to the couples you wish to reach.
Is it worth it? How can you work it?
Here are a few key things I encourage you to consider before spending another dime on a new buy or renewing another LGBT-niche-based contract to make sure that you are making a smart decision that will produce the results you seek.
Are you speaking to same-sex couples effectively in the general advertising and marketing efforts that are already proven to be working for you? For example, you may have invested in your website and SEO, but haven’t made sure to update your language to be more inclusive and, thus, same-sex couples see your online or print presence but don’t see any evidence of themselves. What can you do to be more inclusive in your text and imagery on your website, in your social media efforts, and in your directory listings?
For example, if you are a Premium member of the WeddingWire network, you have access to ‘opt in’ to the GayWeddings.com directory and to reach same-sex couples via the WeddingWire platform at no extra charge. Have you opted-in? And, if so, have you customized your profile image and checked your photo album? Have you considered what your listing might look like to a same-sex couple outside of GayWeddings.com?
→ Conclusion: Yes, it’s worth it. Additional cost to you for following this advice: $0.
If you are advertising on platforms like Facebook or Google AdWords, are you using the correct terminology and phrasing and speaking to what same-sex couples need? One of the most amazing things about using online advertising sources is that you can target the audience you seek with efficiency. You can then develop meaningful content. For example, don’t just buy a generic Facebook ad and then post a picture of a bride and groom; create an ad that features two brides, adjust your audience settings, and let lesbians who are engaged know how your service(s) can help them. Same goes for two grooms. This is true for advertising via AdWords as well.
You are wasting your dollars by not presenting couples with copy and images that are relevant to them. You are also missing a valuable opportunity if you don’t keep an eye on the results and responsiveness to your ads. If engaged gay men aren’t clicking on your ads, don’t blame them. Ask yourself first why your ad isn’t appealing to them. Then, make adjustments to your campaign with clarity on whether or not the ROI is worth it to you.
→ Conclusion: Yes, it’s worth it. Additional cost to you: Depends on the size of your buy, but you can determine your ROI on a daily basis and adjust as necessary, which improves the value of your investment.
If you are developing ads and updating your website and other marketing materials without taking a look at what we know about today’s market and, specifically, emerging trends for same-sex couples, you are at a disadvantage. Once upon a time, it was hard to know exactly what couples needed and there was far more discrepancy in the choices that same-sex couples were making for themselves. This is no longer true.
The bottom line is that – structurally-speaking, as same-sex weddings are growing to include ceremonies and receptions with more invited guests – same-sex couples need and want many of the same services desired by opposite-sex couples. But please don’t forget to look into the nuances of the many ways in which the needs and desires of same-sex couples differ from non-LGBTQ couples. Because the LGBTQ community is estimated to be about 4-7% of the population, our trends get washed away in a larger sample of all couples.
Please take the time to read the 2016 Survey of Contemporary Couples compiled by the leading experts in the industry, including yours truly with GayWeddings, Bernadette Smith of the Gay Wedding Institute, Community Marketing & Insights (CMI), and WeddingWire’s WedInsights team. The more you understand about what the LGBTQ community needs, the more effectively you can speak to the LGBTQ clients you wish to reach.
→ Conclusion: Yes, it’s worth it. Additional cost to you: 30 minutes of your valuable time to read the report to gain invaluable insights.