We here at Planning Pod are honored to have Jayne Hallock with us to answer a few questions about marketing a wedding planning business. Jayne is the editor of WedLock, the online learning community for wedding pros, which educates event and wedding planners on how to successfully market and promote your business on the Web and beyond. It’s a fantastic source of ideas and inspiration, and we encourage you to learn more about them. Jayne has vast experience in marketing as well as in the wedding industry, and we wanted to get inside her head about what’s going on today in terms of wedding planner marketing.
Special Bonus: Jayne has offered a discount for all readers … 15% off on a membership to their professional community (where you can get lots of exclusive resources, tools and guidance for marketing your business). Just go tohttp://www.WedLockmag.com and use the coupon code 3411 when you sign up. Thanks for that extra spiff, Jayne.
My Wedding Workbook Pro (MWWP): The sluggish economy has really made wedding professionals change how they do business over the last few years. What advice do you have for marketing a wedding business in a tough economy?
Jayne Hallock (JH): Roll your sleeves up and get to work on your marketing. You already know how to work at being great at your craft – and you’re probably already doing it.
But you also have to work at being great *marketing* yourself.
So what if you don’t have the budget to hire someone else to do your website? Or to help you with your Google rankings? Or set up your social media campaign for you? That doesn’t mean you can afford to neglect your marketing. It just means its time to learn how this stuff works, yourself. Basically, the bad news is that a sluggish economy means its time for you to get DIY.
The good news? Most of this stuff isn’t that hard. So there’s no need to be intimidated. If you’re talented enough to be a wedding professional in the first place, you’re smart enough to understand how online marketing works.
MWWP: Event and wedding planning businesses tend to be small shops (usually around 1-4 people). What do you see as the biggest challenge to marketing a small business, and how can planners overcome it?
JH: I can relate. WedLock is still a small company (although we have a lot of wonderful support from pretty big names). So although I’d never say I know what’s it’s like to be a small wedding planner … I do get the challenges of being a smaller company. And to me, the biggest challenge isn’t money or time, it’s manpower! I have a jillion ideas and a (um, skabillion?) ways I want to grow my business, but I only have two hands. And one brain. And 24 hours in my day.
Now this is where you can take the crummy economy and make it work FOR you. Say those two magic words with me now: Free Interns!
Recently, I put a call out for an intern and got no less than six super qualified, bright, energetic, educated applicants … all of whom who were interested in working in the wedding industry! And why were they willing to work for free? Because the economy is so bad, they can’t find a ‘real’ job and they need something substantial on their resume.
So I say this to small companies: get on Craigslist, pronto! Post internship flyers at your local college. You’re in a business that many smart young graduates want to get into. So leverage that free workforce and get them answering your phones and running your errands so you can focus on the big stuff!
MWWP: Selling any kind of service – including wedding planning services – can be challenging, so what can wedding planners tell prospects to put them at ease about buying their services?
JH: I’d say: don’t sell your brides a service.
Don’t sell them an itemized list of “what I can do for you.” And don’t try to sell them on how much greater you are than your competition. (If you’re that great, they’ll sense it, and they’ll hear about it themselves.)
Instead, sell them an emotion. Sell your bride peace of mind. Sell her how you can make her feel when she walks down the aisle and enjoy a day that is effortlessly, exceptionally joyful.
When you think of your business that way, you stop hustling your wares and you start really connecting with your prospective brides. The brilliant marketer Seth Godin points to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign as a perfect example of this. Obama didn’t sell himself as a candidate. Instead he “sold hope.” And that worked pretty well, wouldn’t you say?
MWWP: Marketing via the Internet isn’t second nature for most people, so what three things should wedding planners know before they dive into marketing their business on the Web.
JH: Hm, three things. The first thing to spring to mind is to “get Google.” Note I didn’t say “get GOOD at Google” (you can later hire someone to do that for you) but you have to first GET how it works.
You have to get your head out of the sand and find out why Google ranks other sites higher than yours. There’s a basic formula Google uses and you can’t keep telling yourself its just tech-y stuff you’ll never understand.
Why is this important? For two reasons. Number one, there are a lot of scammy marketers out there trying to prey on your ignorance. Don’t let them. Once you understand how Google works, you can separate those with real knowledge from those with empty promises and inflated prices.
Another reason to understand Google is to understand some simple stats. If you can get to #1 on Google, the traffic to your site could be stunning. It could change your business.
So what if you’re already ranking somewhere in the first ten spots? Or even in spot #3? Well, statistics show that the third position on Google’s search results get about 8.5% of the clicks from everyone visiting that page. The #2 spot gets more, at 11.90%.
But the #1 result? Grabs about 42.13% of ALL the clicks on that page!
Now do you get why being #1 is so important? So educate yourself on how Google ‘grants’ that spot to certain websites, and then either do your SEO yourself or hire someone who knows what they’re really doing.
The second big thing to remember online is that social marketing (like on Facebook, Twitter etc) is free! It’s not! Sure, Facebook pages or Twitter accounts don’t cost you any money … but they cost you time. You can’t just throw a page up and hope it works. Facebook, and any other social marketing, will cost you man hours of updating and interacting with your growing ‘fan’ base. So put time aside to do it right, and you’ll be richly rewarded.
And finally, the third biggie online is to keep the hard sell far away from your social media efforts. Social media is for relationship building. It’s for talking to your brides and for her to get to know you. It’s not for hitting brides over the head with sales pitches.
MWWP: As a marketing pro, you’ve seen it all. What is the biggest mistake that most wedding consultants make in marketing their business, and how can they avoid it?
JH: Not marketing enough! This is a big ol’ drum I always beat to death with my WedLock members, but with good reason.
Wedding consultants, and pros in general, are often very creative, artistic people. So they’re not naturally inclined to enjoy the marketing aspect of their business. Many times they tell themselves they are doing ‘well enough’ with referrals, and that they don’t really need to get this whole ‘internet marketing thing.’
But that’s really sticking your head in the sand. Marketing online, once you understand it, can be easy and dare I say — fun?! Get your feet wet, empower yourself to get out there and make a name for yourself online.
Because even if you think you have enough business already, at the end of the day, if you’re not online already and your competition is … brides will begin to notice!
They’re out there looking for you online (even after if they have already met you in person!) So if your Facebook page is nonexistent and your competitor’s is full of interactive discussion and gorgeous photos and engaging personality….who do you think she’s going to hire?
MWWP: Thanks, Jayne. We really appreciate your time and commitment to helping out wedding planners everywhere.
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