Authenticity is the new black and what it took to succeed in the wedding industry in the past no longer works. Have you noticed a slump in your wedding business this year? Are your inquiries nothing but price shoppers? Do you have less inquiries than ever?
Where are all the brides and grooms? Did everyone just stop getting married? Not likely.
So what changed? And what do you need to change to get those inquiries back?
Marketing to Brides
How have you reached brides and grooms in the past? We’ve all done the same thing. Online advertising with popular wedding websites, submitting to get published in magazines and bridal shows that packed engaged couples into the room by the hundreds. Whether some of that or all of that worked for you, I know it’s not working anymore.
How do I know? Two reasons:
1. You’re reading this, and
2. None of that works for me either.
But why isn’t it working? We’ve all heard the argument that print is dead, and I am not here for that argument today (at all). So if you’re advertising online, shouldn’t your inquiries still be rolling in? Sure the industry is saturated but that isn’t something new to 2018. Does that mean engaged couples aren’t using online wedding websites like The Knot and Wedding Wire or does it mean that what brides and grooms want has changed?
Both and Neither.
Hang with me here…
Who is your ideal client? Is it an engaged couple with a healthy (i.e. realistic) budget? Do they know what they want and have a certain style? Well, if you’re advertising with the big national wedding websites and/or the local ones, you’re likely not reaching them anymore.
Along with the saturation of the wedding industry, there are more wedding websites and blogs than ever. Where did the brides go? Everywhere. Now you have an overly saturated industry competing for brides and grooms that are no longer contained to a handful of powerful wedding websites. Maybe you used to get all of your leads from The Knot, and a handful of price shoppers….but now you’re only getting price shoppers. Know why that is?
Because your ideal client left. Except they didn’t all go to the same place. Think of it like dropping a glass bowl: pieces go everywhere. There’s a pile of glass in one spot, another pile somewhere else, and about 30 other piles in random places. Brides and grooms are still using online wedding websites, but since there are so many available, engaged couples are hanging out on the ones that speak to them.
And you’re probably trying to figure out exactly what websites those are, right? Because if you can figure out where the brides went, then you can advertise to them again and everything will go back to normal.
Or maybe you’ve done that already and know what I know: things aren’t going back to normal. Not that way. Not anymore. Because engaged couples are spread out everywhere but now the same amount of people in the wedding industry are going after them. That’s what makes the saturation that much more obvious.
You can waste your time and go broke advertising on every wedding website that you think your ideal client is on. However, that’s only half of the problem. These brides and grooms are all over the place and just as fast as they latched onto these “niche” style websites, some of them left. Basically, those broken pieces of that glass bowl got broken into even smaller pieces.
What’s the glue that holds them all together?
Authenticity is the New Black
Wedding websites have made adjustments because they realize that what brides and grooms want is ever evolving. So many offer a (worthless) wedding planning concierge service, because they know that engaged couples plan from their phones. How to market to millennial brides and grooms is what this whole industry started to focus on. But we only paid attention to part of the technology portion of it….the convenience of planning via smart phone.
We all know that the generation getting married is tech-savvy and would rather text than talk. If they can avoid actual interaction with people, that’s fantastic. Why go to a store, when Amazon can drone drop you anything you want in a day?
Because of all this, the whole industry tried to find a way to reach these tech brides and grooms. The idea was (and still is) to provide everything an engaged couple could possibly need online and to be on the online platform, that caters to your ideal couple.
What’s the problem and why isn’t that working? You’ve all underestimated and misjudged what matters to these couples. It’s not all about convenience. It’s about being real.
Authenticity is the new black.
A few weeks ago, there was news of a popular wedding website and arguably one of the first wedding blogs ever, shutting down. While many suspect this was a publicity stunt, there are blogs that fail every day just like this one. They can’t drive traffic and they can’t compete with the over saturated wedding website market. They can’t stand out.
This is the same reason you aren’t getting inquiries. You don’t stand out anymore. Because what worked yesterday, what worked last year, what worked in the past…it doesn’t work anymore. No bride or groom cares if you are a “spotlight” vendor or in some “prestigious” little black book on a wedding website. They don’t even care about….are you ready for this?…They don’t even care how many followers you have.
Ok, some do, but the majority of the engaged couples will not base their decision to contact you for their wedding on the amount of followers you have. Yes, they want to find you online, but that’s where the desire for convenience completely ends.
“Who are these women? Does anyone know? I don’t recognize any of them……”
13 Going on 30
You wanna know what I hear from the couples we work with? They want to have a unique wedding. They don’t want something that all of their friends had and they want the wedding to reflect them. They want their guests to know that they are at their wedding and not something out of Style Me Pretty. Brides cannot relate to some picture of a drop dead gorgeous model standing on the edge of a cliff with her equally good looking groom as they embrace at their elopement in Iceland as the clouds part and a single beam of sunlight touches the exact spot they are standing in.
Those aren’t real people. Brides and grooms want to see real people.
“I want to see my best friend’s big sister, the girls from the soccer team, my next door neighbor, real women who are smart and pretty and happy to be who they are. “
13 Going on 30
Know what else our couples say? When it comes to choosing a photographer, they want someone that won’t put them in “posed photos”. Yes, the millennial brides and grooms want those candid moments. The same millennials that avoid interaction, text instead of call, and would order Amazon over a trip to the store anyday…those people want real moments of interaction captured on camera at their weddings.
And that’s what everyone is missing.
It’s not all about having the most wedding information on a convenient platform with the best hashtags and highest SEO ranking. If your content isn’t good, none of that even matters. Say it out loud so you really hear this:
If your content isn’t good none of that matters. None. Of. It.
A social media platform could rank you high, but if that’s not what your ideal client is looking for, none of that matters either. If you want to matter, you need to have what actually matters.
You want those brides and grooms? Make a decision. Decide to be authentic. Authentic on every single level of your wedding business.
The “A” Factor
Do you have it? Are you authentic? Most people struggle with authenticity for fear of being rejected. When you meet someone for the first time, you aren’t meeting them; you’re meeting their representative. How long did it take you before you knew your best friend; your spouse; your roommate?
Now imagine you’re a bride or a groom looking for a wedding venue and wedding vendors. You don’t know what you’re doing because you’ve never planned a wedding before. You are overwhelmed with outside advice, wedding vendor websites and stacks of magazines. You look for venues and vendors and read reviews that all start to sound the same after awhile. What does this all mean?
It means engaged couples have to dig a little deeper searching for venues and vendors. It means venues and vendors have to stand out in a sea of the same thing over and over. You might have everything in common with vendors you compete with. But I guarantee you, there is one thing you have that they don’t: They aren’t you.
Time to get comfortable with yourself.
When Style Me Pretty was going to “shut down”, I had some serious opinions (surprise surprise) which you can read in my blog right here. The gist of it had to do with the lack of authenticity. Style Me Pretty posts the same wedding over and over and over. And look, I’ve been published by them, so this is not a personal ax to grind. This is me being authentic. Their weddings have all become the same over-saturated, natural light, blonde hair blue eyed couples, getting married in lavender fields or surrounded by tall wheat grass.
No one actually looks like that. There’s nothing real about those weddings. And so, the only thing that resonates with couples is inspiration for wedding vibes and maybe colors that look nice together. Brides aren’t jumping on that site, or any other, tracking down the vendors involved in those real weddings and seeking them out. That isn’t happening. Ask around. But let’s pause because I’ll talk about where you actually do need to be later in this blog.
Being authentic can be scary. But think about it this way: you want to attract your ideal client, right? Is your ideal client someone that would like you behind the scenes or just who you pretend to be? I make all of my brides and grooms meet with potential vendors in person. They need to click with these people, not just love their work. You can’t get your ideal client by being something you are not or by hiding who you really are!
Steps you can take to show authenticity? Behind the scenes videos. Blogging. Going live on Instagram or Facebook. Hosting webinars. You’re a florist? Post a video putting together a centerpiece and talk while you do it. Photographer? Shoot behind the scenes of an engagement photoshoot. Caterer? Facebook live a kitchen tour or tasting. There is so much you can do.
You are not a robot. Stop acting like one.
Right Place. Right Time.
Step 1 is to fix yourself. Get that “A” factor. That brings us to the second part of the problem. Once you have it, where do you show it?
Where are all of the brides and grooms?
This should come as no surprise. They’re on social media, specifically, Pinterest and Instagram. And I know what some of you are saying….”Danielle, I actively post on social media and I don’t get brides and grooms…blah blah blah.”
Yeah, well, you’re doing it wrong. First off, check your A factor. If you don’t have that going consistently, meaning every day for at least a month, then that’s your problem. Go back to step 1, which is fix yourself.
If you are authentic and your “A” game is tight, and you’re not getting social media clients, there are many things you can do. A large percentage of my brides and grooms find me on social media. Don’t believe me? Look how many monthly page views I have on my Pinterest page alone:
Yes, that’s one million. It didn’t happen overnight and I have been racing to keep up with the evolving wedding industry just like the rest of you. Between Pinterest and Instagram, I am no longer looking for my engaged couples.
They are looking for me.
You have to leave breadcrumbs. You have to make a trail to your website for brides and grooms to follow. They are not going to follow stale, moldy breadcrumbs that look like everyone else’s breadcrumbs. Everyone has 5 star reviews. Everyone has a bunch of wedding awards. What makes you different?
Take what makes you different to Instagram and Pinterest. However, beware that this is a rabbit hole. It is a time sucker. You have to do it right. You want to do it right? Cause this is where the sales pitch starts and the blog ends. So if you’re not about doing this right, if you think you can do this on your own and master the frequent algorithm changes on social media, then stop reading. If you’re happy about no leads, price shoppers and want to stay in your unauthentic shell waiting for this stationary storm to pass, then stop reading right now.
Still here? Good. Welcome to the club of wedding vendors that want to book more brides and grooms. Bridal marketing has been the same for years with little changes here and there. Now, it’s like an earthquake and everyone needs a better wedding marketing strategy so they don’t fall into the earth and get burnt alive by the magma chamber. (I know that’s not how the science of geology works but you get what I’m saying here).
Over the next few weeks, a series of blogs will be released with solid brand marketing ideas. You’ll learn how to leverage free social media and the best tools you need to reach your ideal clients. They are out there, and this is where you will learn to find them. Sign up for the mailing list now to get the crash course information you need. You’ll get blog updates and be able to choose what you want to learn more about every step of the way.