» Branding Considerations for Newly-Diversified Services

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

Diversification is one of the key ways that owners of event businesses can boost income, attract new customers and ensure longevity in our competitive and dynamic industry. Once you have decided which complementary products or services to add to your business, (or other businesses you might acquire), you’ll need to get the word out and make sure your new branding makes sense to your market and peers.

What do you need to consider when branding your newly-diversified services?

The new you

As you expand your business offerings or choose new products and services to complement your brand, it’s important to have a distinct brand identity that encompasses both brands. For example, at one time Fantasy Sound was comprised of separate companies, one for DJ services and one for AV services. The names were similar, but the branding was different and people were confused. We fused the two companies together to create Fantasy Sound Event Services with a unified brand and our business took off.

Determine how the services relate

Wondering how to fuse your services into a single cohesive brand? Go back to the market research that you did before you diversified. You determined that your clients had additional needs and you had the product, skill and talent to fulfill their needs, right? Reflect on what you discovered about your clients during that phase and try to come up with a way to project a brand that addresses all of the needs you are able to meet.

Of course, you’ll also want to identify the biggest strengths of each brand. What are you bringing to the table that is unique to your business and superior when compared to competitors? It’s very similar to the process of branding your original company – you need to know your target market and how to identify those characteristics of your business that meet their unique needs. Then make sure you’re appealing to them and reaching them with your message.

Avoid this common mistake

The biggest mistake that business owners make when taking on a new brand and merging it with their existing business is not realizing the amount of time and the scope of work that the new brand requires. More often than not, the process is not as simple as “plug and play”. You’ll have to go back to the drawing board to create a new brand image, and success will take time. Plan for this when doing projections, managing income and revenue, and preparing for a period of challenging days, weeks and months ahead. But know that your efforts will be worth it in the long run.

Measure your success

Constantly evaluate your efforts once you have established your branding and always review the numbers on a regular basis. Acquiring a new brand absorbs a lot of capital in the beginning and you may not see a return for a while, so stay mindful of the overall trend. Set goals and determine what success means to you and how long you are willing to wait for it.

Creating a cohesive brand for your original company and your acquisitions may not have been the exciting part of diversification you were waiting for, but it is critical. Done well, it will likely be the key to your success.

Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the immediate past chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Upstairs Atlanta for our WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta!

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a beautifully rustic event space in West Midtown! Guests met other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and tips on how to handle tough pricing questions, presented by WeddingWire’s Education Expert, Alan Berg!

Thank you to all the wonderful wedding professionals who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Thanks to all that attended!


» Worried Your Emails are Going to the Trash?

As easy as communicating via email might seem, it is also pretty easy to make email blunders without even realizing it. With so many emails hitting our inbox these days, many emails are begging to be skimmed, or even worse, ignored altogether. But that’s not what you want! You want your emails to be eye catching, read in full and replied to. So, how do you make it happen? Follow these tips to keep your emails out of the trash and generating opportunities.

Automation

If you haven’t already, sign up with a good email service, such as MailChimp, to send automated emails to large lists. If you have a set list of leads, using an email service allows you to publicize your services and keep in touch with ease. Did you upload a new blog to your website or are you running a special deal on your services? Send an automated email to your couples to keep them in the loop.

Additionally, be sure to personalize any automated emails that you send. At the very least, you can use your email service to insert each individual recipient’s first name in the subject line or email body. Including small personalizations like this can decrease the appearance of spam and increase the open rate.

CTA Overload

Overwhelming couple’s inboxes with a constant stream of emails is certainly not best practice. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, sending one timely email that has too much information and too many redirects is just as lethal. Every email should include only one  call-to-action. This “CTA” should be straightforward and drive the one action you are hoping a couple will take after opening your email.

Your subject line shoul—

Your subject line should be eye-catching. It shouldn’t be in all caps or have half a dozen explanation points. It should relate to the content within the email. But, most importantly: it should be short… and not for the reason you might suspect.

Sure, a short subject line is easy to read and fully comprehend. But a short subject line also won’t get cut off on a mobile device. You already know how important mobile is, especially when it comes to emails. Thus, constructing emails with mobile displays in mind is imperative.

As a test, look at your email inbox on your phone and then compare it to how your inbox looks on your computer. How many subject lines and characters get cut off on your phone compared to your desktop? Write every email as if it’s only going to be read on mobile and you should have no problem!

Good list hygiene

WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sonny Ganguly, suggests that you should clean out your email contact list quarterly, if not monthly. While Sonny loves this tip, he can admit that it’s also a bit controversial. Without fail, Sonny says that a follow-up question he always receives after revealing this tip is “but don’t you want as many people as possible to see and hear from your business?”

His answer to that? Well, yes… and no. While free publicity, in this case, emails, could be great for your business, the publicity isn’t worth much if it’s not going to qualified leads. If your emails aren’t getting opened by certain recipients and haven’t for some time, you are allowed to cut your losses. Past clients of yours who have already gotten married and potential customers who just aren’t responsive to your emails aren’t worth keeping around.

If you are a contact hoarder and are worried about purging your list, start slow. Maybe you have quite a few married couples that used your services but no longer react, or react less often to your messages. Perhaps send this group a quarterly email about what you’ve been working on, or if you are able to offer a service that isn’t wedding-exclusive.

Provide an option to unsubscribe

Be sure to give your clients the option to opt-out from your emails. Platforms like MailChimp will create an unsubscribe link that can be included in any email that you send. This link will allow viewers to unsubscribe from your messages and also ensure that you are complying with email laws.

If you aren’t using an email service but still have viewers opt-out from your messaging, be sure to remove those recipients manually. Ideally, you should do this ASAP, but they should definitely be removed within 7-10 days.

Send emails on weekends

Never send an automated email on a Tuesday! Nearly 18% of all business-sent marketing emails are sent on Tuesday, making it the most popular day for automated emails to fill your (and your clients’) inbox. The days with the least amount of sends? The weekend. Only 8.58% and 8.68% of all business-related marketing emails are sent on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Still not sold? Most people have more time to check and, more importantly, respond to emails over the weekend. Saturday and Sunday are also the two days of the week when couples spend the most time planning their wedding. We understand that weekends might be the busiest two days of the week for you as wedding professionals, so plan ahead and schedule your emails several days in advance.

A good email can be the difference between a booking and the trash folder. So it’s important to take the time to consider your email strategy. We hope that you are already implementing some of these strategies, and if not, that you now have some ideas on how to start. Happy sending!

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Marketing to Millennials” by Sonny Ganguly, WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer. Premium Members can view the webinar recording in their accounts.

» How to Captivate the Fleeting Attention Span of Millennials

captivate millennials

Photo by Eileen K Photography

Did you know the average adult attention span is only eight seconds? That means you have just eight seconds to make an impression on a potential client, much like we only have eight seconds to convince you to read the rest of this post. In these eight seconds, it is crucial to make a compelling statement about your brand and show off the best of what you have to offer in order to inspire a potential client to stick around and learn more.

Millennials, or Generation X, have greatly contributed to the dwindling average of our attention spans, in large part because they are the ones who have fuelled the transition from partial screen time to constant screen time. 80% of currently engaged couples are millennials, and they are spending more money on weddings than ever before. On average, millennial couples are spending $31,000 on their weddings as opposed to Generation Y, who spent an average of $24,000. Additionally, millennials are hiring more vendors and having longer engagements, giving them more time to plan their nuptials.

In order to grab the attention of a potential client, whether it’s their first WeddingWire search or their first time coming across your business Instagram, it is imperative that things look great when they land on any one of your pages. We work in a visual industry, meaning that any content you post must [subtly] scream for attention. Here’s 6 tips from WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly to help you do it:

Always be branding
Ultimately, you have to pull your audience in with your brand. Potential clients – aka millennials – won’t stick around if they aren’t compelled by something. WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sonny Ganguly, says that your brand is “more than a logo”. Every single aspect of your company, from your logo, to the design of your website, to a picture that you upload to Facebook, is a representation of your brand. If this content isn’t captivating, consistent, and representative of you as a brand, potential clients are going to move on. Remember: Your brand is one of the best ways to stand out from your competition, so be proud to convey your “why” at every turn.

Update, update, update!
Just like you would take your car in for an oil change or upgrade your mobile device when a new model comes out, you should constantly be working on your website to keep it running and relevant. Think about how often popular platforms and websites update their formats and interfaces, or even how frequently app icons change. If you aren’t making changes and tweaks to your website often enough, visitors are going to stop coming to your site if there is nothing new to see. Some first-timers will even leave without a chance of revisiting if they feel like your website looks outdated.

But how do you make time for this in your busy schedule? The more often you take the time to make small adjustments to your website here and there, the less time you will need to spend down the road completely bulldozing and rebuilding your website when everything becomes outdated. Your website should never be something placed on the backburner – instead, dedicate 30 minutes each week to revising your site.

Think mobile
Your website must be mobile-friendly. It should look almost exactly the same on your mobile as it does on your desktop. It should also function just like the desktop version, have the same information available, lead to the same (working) links and have everything displayed in a clean and visually appealing format. The majority of couples are wedding planning on their phones, and it would be a missed opportunity not to have your mobile site up to par.

Be upfront
Every single piece of information that you can provide about your business and services should be made easily accessible to potential clients. This is a controversial one, but millennials don’t like small talk. Thus, requiring them to reach out for general pieces of information about your services is not ideal. It’s also a drain on your time when you have to respond to questions that could be easily available on an FAQ page. Let them find the information that they need and then contact you when they are already hooked.

Speaking of being upfront, not providing pricing on your website(s) is a huge turn off for couples who are looking for vendors. Seeing “Please contact for pricing” on a website is a big frustration for couples. This is because price, followed by reviews, is the number one thing couples are looking for when searching for vendors. By not listing your pricing, you are potentially losing sales instead of gaining them.

Reduce fields
Plain and simple: the less information that potential clients are required to provide on an inquiry form, the more inquiries you will get. By reducing the fields, you can see a +47% increase in the number of inquiries received. Reducing fields also helps you keep your mobile audience engaged. If you have more than three inquiry fields, consider rethinking the essential information you need at first contact versus the information you want.

Go the extra mile
When you get a new booking and client, focus on going above and beyond from day one.  Going the extra mile for your clients is what will make them remember you, especially post-wedding. If you do something special for your clients, not only will you get glowing reviews and a confidence boost, but you can bet on a couple of referrals, too! Yes, it takes a bit of time, effort and energy, but the payoff and reward can make all the difference for your business.

Get ready for Generation Z
They are coming and they will be here sooner than you think! Millennials were slowly introduced to groundbreaking technologies and dependency on tech, but Generation Z grew up with it. While Generation X prefers this newer tech-heavy lifestyle, they are still relatively familiar with the “traditional” (read: outdated) aspects of business. Gen Z won’t be.

To be prepared for tackling Generation Z, who will be having their own weddings soon enough (the oldest GenZers are currently 18), you have to master your millennial audience first. Be aware of trends and incorporate them into your brand and platforms to help you stay connected to your “younger” audiences. If you treat the millennial audience as a very serious “practice round” as you update aspects of your business, you will have an easier time adapting to fit the demands of Gen Z. when they come along.

Since millennials are making up the bulk of the current wedding market — and time is of the essence here — make sure you keep these 6 crucial tips in mind to help you hook, line, and sink as many new millennial couples as possible before their attention goes elsewhere.

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Marketing to Millennials” by Sonny Ganguly, WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer. Premium Members can view the webinar recording in their accounts.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Phoenix

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Tercero by Aldea Weddings for WeddingWire Networking Night Phoenix!

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a stunning bohemian event space! Guests met other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and how to better serve millennial couples, presented by WeddingWire’s Regional Director of Sales, Alicia Darrow!

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Thanks to all that attended!

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

» Holiday Marketing Strategies to Boost Your Bookings

If there’s one thing people love, it’s a good holiday! The United States has a number of holidays throughout the year that mean time off and joyous celebrations. While they’re an excellent time for consumers to kick back and relax, holidays provide a great opportunity for wedding professionals to get in on the excitement.

This holiday season has us thinking about capitalizing on holiday buzz – and how to leverage the goodwill of an upcoming holiday by using one of these marketing strategies.

Create holiday-themed images to use on your social networks

One of the easiest ways to promote your wedding business during a holiday is to create holiday-themed images, just like the one featured above! Ask your graphic designer to help if you have one (or know one), or use a free app like Canva to add your own text and logo to the image of your choice. Even a message as simple as “Happy Holidays” with your logo and a nice image will provide a personal touch and keep your business top of mind without much effort. Post these images on your social networks, or add them as your profile and cover photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Once the holiday has passed, don’t forget to change your photos back to your typical year round photo.

Introduce holiday deals and promotions

Another great way to capitalize on the buzz around the holidays is by offering deals or running promotions. Most retail brands run sales during holiday weekends, so couples are probably already on the hunt for a good deal. If you are approaching a holiday and still don’t have an event, run a promotion that offers a special package or additional services for a wedding on that holiday. Or, if your business serves consumers beyond weddings (florists, makeup artists, photographers), consider offering a discount to get more people in the door on a day where they might otherwise be busy.

Run a social media contest

If holidays are typically already popular dates for your calendar, you could run a social media contest in lieu of offering a discount or special deal. Run a sweepstakes, photo, or video contest and award the winner with services on the upcoming holiday. Facebook is often the preferred social network for running contests, but you can use your favorite social network to promote the contest and accept responses so that the effort required is minimal.

Incorporate charitable components

Certain holidays like Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are popular holidays to give back to the community. Think about any local or national charities you know that are associated with those holidays or could benefit from some extra assistance and incorporate them into your promotions or contests. You could donate a portion of profits made during the holiday, or even make a donation on behalf of whoever wins your contest. No matter how you decide to promote your business around the holiday, incorporating a charitable component is sure to boost engagement!

Happy Holidays from all of us at WeddingWire!

» How to Stand Out Using Your Reviews

Photo by: B. Jones Photography

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP.

I’ve seen quite a few websites that have a paragraph, or even a page, that explains why a couple should hire a professional in their field (planner, videographer, invitation designer…). But by the time someone has gotten to that website, they’re already thinking that they want, or need a professional. That’s why they’re there. People don’t accidentally get to your website. They have to go through a series of steps to get there. Instead of using that valuable real estate to sell why they need someone in your field, use that space to sell you, and only you, for their wedding or event.

Evaluate the strength of your brand

A brand is many things. It’s much more than a logo or colors. Those are just visuals, to help identify your company. Your brand goes much deeper. What does it feel like, to do business with your company? What does it mean to do business with you? When choosing between you and your company, and another in your market and category, what are the differentiating factors? It’s not your bullet point list of services. Most of your competitors have a similar list, including good reviews and being nice people. What statement does it make to their wedding or event guests, to see that you are their officiant, designer or transportation company? You can have really nice products and services, and not have a strong brand.

What are you really selling?

Unless your unique selling proposition (USP) is that you’re the cheapest price, some people are seeing a difference between what you’re offering, and other options. Can you articulate why they’re choosing you? Can you go beyond a bullet point list of what services you offer, to show them why they should choose you, and only you, for their wedding or event?

Your reviews are branding gold

Like so many seemingly difficult questions, the way to express your brand is very close at hand. By heading over to your WeddingWire account, you’re only one click away from finding your brand. Click over to the Reviews tab in your dashboard for a simple exercise. Look for phrases and sentences that come up, over and over again. The way that past customers are describing their experience with you is one of the best ways, that I know, to articulate what it means to do business with you. Your happy clients say things you can’t, or won’t. They use words and phrases that would sound funny, or strange, or egotistical, if you said them. They express emotions, that show others what it’s like to choose you, and your team, and even specific members of your team. Unless you are new, and have no reviews, you’re sitting on a gold mine. You need to find those wonderful nuggets.

Let your reviews speak for themselves

Now comes the fun part. Don’t just identify those great sentences and phrases. Sprinkle them around your website, in your marketing, in your email communications and more. Answer this question: “Why should you choose (your business) for your wedding (your service)?” and then, instead of you answering the question, say “That’s a fair question, and one you should definitely ask, before deciding. Rather than tell you about our experience and professionalism, we’d rather let our couples, people just like you, tell you their experiences having us for their weddings:” Put a few bullets with those short phrases and sentences you found above. Finish it off with a strong call to action: “If these are the kinds of results you’d like for your wedding, call, text or contact us today 747.555.1234” Always ask for the sale, or at least the next steps, when you answer a question, or objection.

I have a document where I save all of the great reviews, testimonial notes, social comments, etc. Then, when I need a quote for a web page, marketing piece, or email, they’re close at hand, and searchable. So, get out your miner’s hat, and start finding the gold in your reviews and testimonials. Then, let your happy customers express your brand, and your ‘why’ to your prospects. Many other wedding and event pros are seeing success with this, and I know you can too.

alan bergWeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

 

 

» 5 Ways to Market Your Business in the Busy Season

Now that summer is upon us, wedding professionals across the country face an extremely busy time of year: wedding season! While we know that the most popular months to get married are June, September, and October, it’s critical to remember those couples who are only just getting started planning a winter wedding. Here are a marketing strategies your business can use to keep new clients coming in despite all the rushing around you’ll be doing in the busy season.

1. Keep gathering reviews

With all your weddings and events happening in the spring, summer, and early fall, it’s important to gather as many client reviews as possible. Each review is another chance for your clients to spread the word about your business, and each review is valuable for potential clients who are researching your business and other professionals in their area. Plus, recency is still a big factor when couples are evaluating your wedding business, so it’s essential to continue collecting them even if your calendar for the next few months is full!

2. Tailor your content

Blogging is a great marketing tool no matter the time of the year! Continue creating great content about your business with an off-season twist – think about where your potential clients are in the planning process and try to appeal to them with the right content for that stage. Are there things couples should know about your business when they first start planning? Is there a particular time period couples should focus on your business category versus others in the planning process? Gain more readers by targeting them with the right message at the right time.

3. Offer off-season deals

Take advantage of those couples who are engaged but not getting married during the busier months by offering discounts or deals for the slower times on your calendar. Remember there are still a significant number of engaged couples who choose not to get married in the warmer months, and they’re still doing their wedding planning while others are taking their trips down the aisle. Think about popular off-season dates like Christmas, New Year’s or Valentine’s Day and provide special offers, discounts or free add-ons now that help make your business stand out as the perfect choice for their winter wedding needs.

4. Boost your social

One of the best ways to stay top-of-mind even when your workload is full is to continue being active on your social networks. Use social media to offer special discounts, collect reviews and testimonials, share your own content, and run contests or promotions. Your posts will appear within your followers’ social streams, and if you’re creating and posting engaging content, they’ll be more inclined to share your posts with their own networks. Plus, with all the weddings on your calendar, you’ll likely have a ton of real wedding photos and details to post! When their wedding date moves closer, you’ll be the business they remember.

5. Focus on other events

If your business works on more than just weddings – corporate events, sweet sixteen parties, baby showers – ramp up your marketing efforts for those events when the wedding season slows down. By decreasing your marketing budget for promoting weddings and compensating by increasing your budget for promoting your events services, you’ll be able to focus on events that tend to happen all year round. Balancing your efforts in this way will be easier on your budget and help you boost your conversions in your secondary lines of business.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in April 2015 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.

» Partnership Marketing: Building Your Business from Your Wedding Buddies

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Whether you’re a seasoned business in your area or are new to the scene, marketing is something that should be in the forefront of your business operations. The tricky part is that a business’ marketing approaches are constantly changing and evolving; from PR and social media to more traditional advertising methods, the options are endless.

When considering your own methods, don’t discount your relationships with the businesses around you. Leveraging relationships with your creative partners is a great way to introduce your business into their network. Below we’ve got some tips on creating and maintaining your vendor-to-vendor relationships.

Partnership Marketing: Building Your Business from Your Wedding BuddiesEstablishing a Relationship

It may take some effort to find the right people to work with. If no one comes to mind when thinking of whom you’d want to work with, then it’s time to consider networking. Attend events at your local associations, meet people, exchange cards, and most importantly, follow up.

Make sure that you are the easiest person to work with, whether it’s at an event or setting up a meeting with them (no Saturday appointments in June!). Market yourself as part of their team and be an all-around resource of information to solidify your place as an essential part of the process.

Maintaining a Relationship

Don’t let all of your efforts be for nothing – set up a system to maintain your relationships. Make sure you are staying in touch with them regularly to keep yourself on their minds (think birthday cards and holiday cards). Include them in your real wedding submissions. If you worked with a vendor and the wedding gets published, be sure to give them a shout out in any promotions.

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» Should You Specialize in the LGBTQ Niche?

WeddingWire Contributor

Bernadette Smith

Bernadette Smith is the founder and president of 14 Stories and the Gay Wedding Institute (GWI), and award-winning author of three books, including The Business of Gay Weddings: A Guide for Wedding Professionals. Through the GWI, Bernadette has trained thousands of wedding and hospitality professionals on sales and marketing best practices to same-sex couples. Bernadette’s expertise has been sought after by the Today Show, National Public Radio, the BBC, the New York Times, CNN, among many others.

Now that there is marriage equality across all 50 states, one of the questions I’ve been getting is: Should I open a business specializing in LGBTQ weddings?

Should You Specialize in the LGBTQ Niche?12 years ago, when marriage equality came to Massachusetts, the first state in the country, I opened a wedding planning business (14 Stories) doing just that, with an LGBTQ specialty. I opened the business to be an advocate for my clients and help them navigate a very traditional wedding industry where they might feel trapped in traditional roles, or worse – mistreated or rejected.

At that time, there were no other businesses in my market in Massachusetts with that specialty, so it was very easy for me to build a client base. Additionally, Massachusetts quickly became a destination for couples from other states and countries who could not legally marry in their home state. My wedding planning clientele was not just local couples, but also couples who sought Massachusetts (and later the rest of New England and New York) as their wedding destination. In that sense, it was almost easy money. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done with couples from almost every state and around the world.

Now that every state has marriage equality, specializing in same-sex weddings would be a risk for any business. Think about it: same-sex couples have a wide variety of purchasing criteria just like everybody else. They make their purchasing decisions based on creativity, personality fit, budget, style and a whole number of other factors that have nothing to do with whether or not you specialize in same-sex weddings.

Data tells us that the LGBTQ community is 5-7% of society. In order to make a successful living with an LGBTQ specialty, you have to attract the community, find ones who are engaged, have a wedding date which you have open, have the budget for your services, love your personality, respect your talent and a whole lot more. Having a niche is great, but with this specialty, you would be extremely niche-driven to the point where there just will not be enough demand to create a sustainable business. And at the end of the day, we have to make money. Continue reading

» To Snap or Not to Snap: Snapchat Marketing Explained

To Snap or Not to Snap: Snapchat Marketing ExplainedThe numbers are in: Snapchat, the image-sharing mobile app, is officially a success. Nearly one in five Americans will use Snapchat this year, and the app’s user base is exceeding Twitter and Pinterest in the U.S. for the first time. Yet despite its recent acclaim as most popular app among teens and its tremendous potential as a marketing tool, Snapchat’s marketing capabilities remain a mystery to many small business owners. The app already has various features, such as geofilters and Stories, that could undoubtedly be useful for advertising.

If you’ve never used Snapchat before, here’s a quick guide to the fast-growing mobile app:

  • Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to share photos and videos that are only available for a short period of time. The user sending the snap selects the amount of time it will be available for viewing. After the photo or video’s time limit is up, it’s no longer visible to the recipient!
  • Users can add text, emojis, and filters to their snaps. Recipients can reply with text or with a snapped photo or video of their own. Snapchat filters range from photo-enhancing color filters to silly animated filters built for selfies to geo-filters that only appear when users are in a certain area.
  • Recipients can save a photo snap through a screenshot – and the app lets the sender know when a recipient takes a screenshot. However, as the sender, you can save the photo or video to your smartphone even before sending it along.
  • The latest Snapchat feature, Memories, offers a way to save and share old snaps in a private archive within the app. Users can set their Memories as private, or share them with others. Memories can also be combined with new snaps to create a longer narrative.
  • There are two ways to snap – you can send them directly to other users, or add to your Story. A Snapchat Story is a series of snaps in chronological order, and they’re available for viewing more than once. Although they don’t immediately disappear, Stories are only available for 24 hours.
  • Snapchat users can add friends by their username, by phone number, Snapcode (a unique scannable code), or by searching for nearby users. Similar to Facebook, both users have to approve when someone wants to follow and send snaps to the other. Users who don’t accept when another user follows them simply don’t receive the snaps.

Though it may seem silly and sophomoric, Snapchat is reported to have overtaken Facebook as the most-used social network among 12-24 year olds. In fact, WedInsights data suggests that among individuals between the ages of 25-34, Snapchat is among one of the most-used as well (albeit behind Pinterest and Instagram). Your target audience is on Snapchat, and they’re using it daily.

Some businesses are becoming early-adopters of Snapchat and attempting to use it for marketing purposes. Snapchat marketing is a bit less traditional from other social networks, particularly because posts disappear and there’s no way to send or post links. However, in January of 2015 Snapchat released Discover, a version of Snapchat Stories for editorial and brand teams. While Discover is reserved for massive brands and news outlets, the added flexibility and advertising implications indicate more to come for businesses on Snapchat in the future.

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» How to Find (and Reach!) Your Target Audience

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

Looking to book more clients? Then it’s essential to start at the beginning with fine tuning your target audience to determine the very best client for your wedding business. While it may seem like quite the undertaking, a bit of strategic thinking can save you from exhausting your energy and resources before seeing results.

How to Find (and Reach!) Your Target AudienceIt’s safe to say that the best plan of attack is just that – a plan! First and foremost, you’ll need to define your target audience. What age range do they fall in? What social media networks are they hooked on? Do your homework and research your target demographic so you get to know their lifestyles and interests. Do they frequent coffee shops and juice bars? Are they taking Pilates or barre classes at the gym or a private studio? Whatever it is, see if there’s a way for you to join them in their element and connect with them. While an email or Facebook message may seem nice, there’s nothing quite as genuine as connecting with a prospective client because your yoga mats are next to each other or you were waiting in line together.

Another great way to reach your target audience is to network among other local wedding professionals. Talk to some of your favorite venues in the area and start to nurture your relationship with them. Take them out for coffee or send them a small gift – anything to let them know who you are and that you appreciate them. Oftentimes, venues have a list of preferred vendors to share with their clients and there’s nothing better than having your name on there!

More than likely, you’ll have an idea of which of your industry peers serve your target clientele. If you’re not already friends with them, it’s time to get networking! Referrals are extremely valuable, as couples are more willing to trust a vendor that they’ve already hired so it’s certainly worth it to get in with the people who share your ideals. Find a networking group that best suits you—keeping in mind you can attend both event industry networking as well as general business networking—and get to building relationships. Remember – it’s not a race to hand out as many business cards as you can. Look for the professionals with values that align with your own and start chatting. Follow up with them afterwards to continue the conversation – it could develop into a mutually beneficial relationship of referrals.

While there are two distinct ways of reaching your target audience—through them directly and through other event professionals—it’s prudent to find a good mix of the two methods in order to maximize your outreach to its full potential. Plus, you’ll feel covered on all sides so you won’t be pressured when you can’t attend a networking event or you missed a day of Pilates. It’s all about balance!