The wedding professionals on WeddingWire are a diverse and varied group, but many share a common goal: growth. However, the strategies they employ to achieve growth depend heavily on a number of factors – so we went straight to the source. Six thousand WeddingWire Pros responded to our 2015 Annual Vendor Survey, so we’ve got great insights and data about your industry colleagues to share in the latest volume of our WedInsights Series.
Based on the feedback from the pros who responded to our 2015 Annual Survey, it’s clear that many of them hope to grow their business in 2016 and beyond. Pros not only expressed their desire to book more business and increase revenue, but also provided insights into what they’re doing to make their goal a reality. Whether you are a sole entrepreneur or work for a multinational organization, see what wedding business goals your peers are making a priority in 2016.
Collecting more reviews to stand out
Reviews function as online recommendations for your business from past clients, so it should come as no surprise that over 90% of professionals say online reviews are critical to their business. The majority of pros also report that they collect most of their reviews on popular third party review sites like WeddingWire, Yelp, and Google.
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 can be a major strain for a quarter of pros surveyed, especially for those in jewelry (43%), transportation (34%), beauty and health (32%), event rentals/ photobooths (31%), and venues (29%). 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.
Working with other pros to generate referrals
Referrals are huge in the wedding industry, and they’ll continue to be a big area of opportunity in 2016 and beyond. While 94% of pros say that referrals are important to their business, only 74% feel they are well-connected to other pros in their local area. Interestingly, monetization of referrals is one way to see growth in 2016 – one-third of professionals are considering (or already) providing a financial incentive to garner more word-of-mouth business. Bands, beauty and health pros, entertainers, favors and gifts retailers, rehearsal dinner locations, and videographers appear to be most receptive to this type of agreement.
Wedding professionals in most cities or regions have a lot of choices when it comes to other pros to work with, so it’s important for you to meet more people in your area to identify opportunities. Working together will not only help your bottom line, but gives you an opportunity to learn and grow with some other top-notch businesses.
Spending more on advertising to increase exposure
When it comes to the business goals of wedding professionals, finding new customers was reported as a hardship for 50% of those surveyed. Acquiring new customers is even more of a focus for favors and gifts retailers (76%), photographers (61%), wedding planners (60%) and videographers (60%). For many, increasing their exposure through advertising is the preferred strategy for finding and acquiring new customers.
Data from our survey suggests that venues, caterers, dress/attire, jewelers and transportation professionals have higher advertising spends, as vendors in these categories tend to work in larger corporations with larger employee counts and annual revenues. Sole proprietors invest slightly less in paid marketing/advertising opportunities, however both groups expect to increase their advertising spends in 2016 by around 25%.
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 advertising 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 advertise, individuals are finding the specific formula that works well for their business and investing more money into getting their brand name out there.