» 2016 Wedding Business Goals: How Are You Doing?

In our 2015 Annual Vendor Survey, six thousand of our WeddingWire Pros gave us some insight into their biggest pain points and business growth priorities in 2016. Now that the busy season is coming to a close, how are you doing in reaching those goals?

Data from our survey suggests that venues (including rehearsal dinner venues) and catering professionals tend to work in larger corporations with larger employee counts and annual revenues – so we’ve broken out the data for this group separately from the rest of the service categories available for couples to account for the difference in available budgets.

Check out our interactive graph below to see how you measure up against your peers, and read on for more context on each goal.

Priority 1: Making marketing dollars go further

Despite their varying budgets, 51% of venues/caterers and 48% of the rest of those businesses surveyed in 2015 reported that making their marketing dollars go further is their #1 priority. There are so many options for spending your marketing budget that it’s vital to find the right solution that yields the most ROI – it’s no longer viable to spread your budget across a bunch of strategies and waiting to see what sticks!

Whereas in years past only about 4% of marketing budgets were allocated towards social media marketing, today more sophisticated targeting opportunities available via social media and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are getting more attention and a bigger piece of the pie.  While there are various ways for wedding pros to expand their online presence, individuals are finding the specific formula that works well for their business and investing more money into getting their brand name out there.

Still need help making your marketing dollars go further? Read up on the latest stats about your target demographic (hello, Millennials!) so you better understand their mindset and needs. Focus on improving your presence in areas like your website and social media so that when potential clients find your business they’re more likely to have a good first impression and reach out for more information.

Priority 2: Finding new customers

When it comes to the business goals of wedding professionals, finding new customers was reported as a hardship for 41% of venues/caterers and 53% of the rest of those businesses surveyed in 2015. When asked to select what parts of the business cause the most hassle, those in favors and gifts (76%), photographers (61%), wedding planners (60%) and videographers (60%) are even more likely say finding new customers is an area to improve.

For many, increasing their exposure through advertising is the preferred strategy for finding and acquiring new customers. Sole proprietors invest slightly less in paid marketing/advertising opportunities than the venue/catering group, however both groups expect to increase their advertising spends in 2016 by around 25%, with larger investments into wedding planning sites, social media, SEO and blog advertisements to attract more business and grow their customer base.

Still need help finding new customers? In addition to guaranteed advertising placement through Premium membership with WeddingWire, consider paid social media options like Facebook advertising as a way to expand your reach within your target age range. And don’t forget to audit your mobile experience to optimize your conversions for today’s engaged couples who spend over 30% of their time planning their wedding from a mobile device each week!

Priority 3: Getting reviews or referrals

After optimizing their marketing budgets and finding new customers, WeddingWire Pros are prioritizing more reviews and referrals to make the most out of each customer. 29% of venues/caterers and 24% of the rest of those businesses surveyed in 2015 reported that they know the importance of reviews but still struggle to collect them from past clients.

Despite the well-known importance of collecting reviews, wedding professionals admit they are not as confident about collecting and managing reviews – nearly 25% say they could use help in this area. Getting reviews is a major strain especially for those in jewelry (43%), transportation (34%), beauty and health (32%), event rentals/ photobooths (31%), and venues (29%).

Still need help getting reviews? Increase the likelihood of capturing client reviews by incorporating reviews throughout your client experience to make them more likely to submit a review for you after the big day. Remember that couples are looking for five factors in your wedding reviews: responsiveness, consistency, quality of work, timeliness, and professionalism. Requesting reviews from all your clients means you’re more likely to cover all five factors!