Do you seriously hate your blog for your small business in the wedding industry? Does your to do list keep growing while your blog is being pushed farther down that list? You are not alone. Many wedding professionals are frustrated with their business’ blog and can never seem to find the time to work on it. I get it. I’m right there with you.
I am so thrilled to introduce our newest Thursday Therapy parter, Courtney Shorter, owner of RyanMorgan Events. Her business is built on a bedrock of love, a passion for what’s possible and a commitment to be an unstoppable force for good. She will be hosting wedding industry mixers in the DC/MD/VA area! I love Courtney’s friendly personality. She will be a great host to all wedding pros in the area looking to make friends and do business.
You can learn more at: thursdaytherapy.net
I’ve been in this industry since 2004 and have seen a lot of changes in what works in terms of marketing strategies. It used to be that you could place and ad on theknot.com and you’d be set for the entire season. There wasn’t any social media yet. Barrier to entry was still a thing. You placed the ad, and the phone would ring (or the email would ding). It was a very passive process.
These days wedding professionals spend more time marketing and selling themselves than ever. I’m going to guess that there are weeks you might spend up to 30 hours on marketing and selling. You’re likely doing some/all of the following:
- Paid advertising
- Networking mixers
- 1:1 coffee dates
- Venue visits
- Bridal shows
- Styled shoots
- Press submissions
What’d I miss?
That’s A LOT.
It’s harder to “get found” than ever before and it requires so much more time and effort.
With all this time and effort, how do you get to the point where you’re a “word of mouth” business?
By your fifth year in business (sometimes sooner) the majority of your business should be coming from client and vendor referrals. In the early years you have to push hard in the above list of promotional efforts. No one knows you yet, so you rely on those other activities to do the hard marketing work.
But, if you’re laying the seeds for strong relationships, around year 5 you’ll be able to rely on those relationships for business. It doesn’t mean you’ll let go of the other marketing activities. You just won’t need to rely on them as much.
It’s the one thing I haven’t seen change in terms of marketing in the last 2 decades (likely longer)… relationships are the best source of business.
What are you doing to build in-person relationships locally? Are you networking consistently? Are you forming deep connections?
Want to get in on some friendly monthly networking with wedding pros? Join us for Thursday Therapy!
Today’s guest contribution is written by Caryl Lyons of ROAR events. She has been planning and producing corporate events for over 25 years, first working as an event manager for corporations and then running my own business. I’ve invited here to share advice for those of you wedding planners looking to expand into corporate events.
I’ve been planning and producing corporate events for over 25 years, first working as an event manager for corporations and then running my own business – ROAR events – for the past 11 years.
Needless to say, that’s a long time and I’ve made my share of mistakes. The good thing is that I’ve learned from them and over the next few days, I’m going to be sharing some potential missteps and how to avoid them. As I mentioned, I’m a corporate event planner, however I have designed and produced a few weddings and what I’m going to be sharing can be applied to both weddings and corporate events.
First up are site visits. These can be tedious and time consuming and you might think, I don’t have time to do this, I’ve been to the venue before or the photos look great. Stop right there. This is one of the biggest mistakes that you could do and here is why:
Photos can be really deceiving
A photographer’s job is to make a venue look inviting and lust worthy. The point with seeing the photos is you want to be there. However, there are all sorts of lenses that can make a venue look really big and once you get there, it’s nothing like the photos.
Been there – done that. We thought we were sold on a venue and then we got there and it’s nothing like we imagined.
You need to see the space when it will be used
True story…I just did a site visit and fell absolutely IN LOVE with the venue…during the day. I loved the décor, the vibe, the view – everything. We were sold. This was going to be the place for the reception and we all thought it was perfect. (See photo above)
We decided to head to the venue at night to see what it was like when the sun was down, the music was playing and the overall vibe. We were completely disappointed. The décor, you couldn’t see because it was so dark in the space. The vibe, it was an after work crowd and the space felt surprisingly smaller and a little claustrophobic. The view, we couldn’t see a thing. Because of the location, there weren’t a lot of lights on the building. We wouldn’t have known that if we didn’t see the space at night.
You need to see the surroundings
When you look at photos of venues, you aren’t seeing the surroundings. Is the entrance professional? Are there lots of banners or random branding hanging? Tons of construction? Can you envision your guest’s arrival?
I’ve seen the venue before
You may be familiar with the venue, but the space changes. They renovate and you might not like what they’ve done. Go back to #3 – the surroundings might have changed. Even if you are familiar, you need to see the space with fresh eyes and with the specific event in mind.
Bottom line, this is an area that you need to push back with your clients. It doesn’t matter if you are a wedding planner or a corporate planner, your client is about to fork out a ton of money for an event and it needs to be perfect in every way. It might even be a good idea to add a clause into your contract.
Caryl Lyons began her events career in publishing, first in fashion at Condé Nast Publishing’s Mademoiselle Magazine and then in tech for Ziff-Davis’s PC/Computing Magazine. She loved tech so much, she decided to make the jump into corporate where she managed teams at PeopleSoft, Tesseract and Symantec Corporation. You can find her on instagram at @roarevents and @hotelwanderlust. AND – check out the ROAR mini-email course which shares all about the corporate events world. You can sign up by heading to: www.roarplaybook.com/jumpstart.
Today’s guest contribution is written by Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting. I hear too many people get their submissions rejected by editors of magazines and blogs. Meghan is a PR superstar and I asked her to shed light on this conundrum. Psssstttt… she’s got a sweet deal on her PR collective for 20% off. Keep reading!
It’s no surprise that staying on top of your publicity is the key to getting your name out there, generating new business, and competing no matter what the market conditions are. You probably also know that great publicity takes work, so the question remains-
What in the world do you do in the busy season when you’re knee-deep in weddings?
Like everything, it takes balance but the good news is that a bit of preparation can take you a long way when working in your business takes you away from working on your business.
Not sure how to start? Here are my top three strategies to keep your PR endeavors successful in the busy season:
Start media lists with your targeted publishers, known deadlines, and any specifications and contact information you need for submission so they’ll be at your fingertips when you need them to be.
Are you planning to use new publishing tools or project management software? Get familiar with their use while you still have time to play with different settings and ask questions to address hiccups. Investing time before your workload ramps up will make it much easier for you to continue attending to your PR when things get truly busy.
Look at your wedding roster pre-season and project which events you will likely want to have published. Collect background information from your couples in advance – newlyweds are much more difficult to get details from active planning clients. Ensure any legal releases you need to publish photos are signed and filed, and that you and your photographer are on the same page about publishing goals and deadlines.
Hire Help When Needed
No wedding pro is an island – we all need help sometimes, and the busier your season gets, the more help you are likely to need. PR assistance can come in many forms. If you can invest the time in mentorship and fulfilling specific program requirements, an intern with some background in promotion might be a good match. If you need more full-service, experienced help, a Marketing and PR agency might be your best bet. Ask trusted colleagues for referrals, and schedule in-depth interviews before signing on any dotted line.
Your efforts will payoff in busy season PR success. Need even more support to make your busy-season PR management work? We have developed a bundle of FREE tools just for you!
Wedding PR Acceleration Bundle
Want a leg up on your publicity efforts this season and beyond? I’ve put together some of my favorite tools to help you with your wedding PR efforts:
- Pitch Tracking Spreadsheet– You’ll save countless time with this spreadsheet, allowing you to track your pitches, contacts and follow ups in one spot.
- HARO Pitch Template & 2 Sample Pitches –Step one: Google “HARO”. Step two: Swoon! It’s a great free service that connects you with media opportunities and we’ve got a pitch template at the ready as well as two successful samples.
- Media Pitch Template – We’re giving you the keys to the publicity kingdom- customize this template, which we’ve used to get featured in the most popular wedding magazines, blogs and news sites.
- Two Sample National Media Pitches – Looking for inspiration? These pitches received national attention.
Or maybe we could hang out?
So if you’re ready to take the next step and kick things into high gear, then I also invite you to consider my newly launched OFD Collective, a wedding PR membership that aims marries education with action.
I’ve developed multiple service tiers allowing you to decide the best fit. Enjoy ongoing wedding media opportunities so you can skip years of research and relationship building and jump to the front of the publicity line. I’ve included live office hours with the OFD team that allows you to ask your most pressing publicity related questions. We’ll take a peek at your pitches, speaking submissions and real weddings that you’re hoping to place.
And if you’re ready to really take back some of your own time, there is a level that gives you the ability to submit up to (15) of your own weddings to blogs and publications every year. Head over to ofdcollective.com and use the code “sageweddingpros” for 20% off on any of their membership packages (good for a lifetime). Make sure to do so before June 30th.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.