Tuesday, February 21, 2012

8 Tips For Wedding Vendors That Any Business Owner Could Use

In my day job, I work closely with a number of small businesses. I've seen the good and the bad, and a big part of what I do is coaching those small business owners to represent themselves in the best way possible. 

It's difficult for me to separate my work life from the rest of my life. Does that happen to any of you? 

Because I work closely with business owners to improve their business and image and message, I really can't turn that constructive criticism off.

My latest adventure as a consumer of All Things Wedding has shown me a couple of great examples of a well-run small business with a great image and great messaging. It's also made me aware of some real doozies. In the same way that I take the lessons of my personal life and apply them to my work, I'm now going to apply a little  business knowledge to my wedding vendor search, in the form of offering advice to wedding vendors (and any business owner!).

8 Tips For Wedding Vendors
That Any Business Owner Could Use

Don't make assumptions.
Splendid Communications' awesome write-up about Marketing Weddings to Millenials says it best: be careful who you approach with the "it's all about the bride" schtick. The majority of couples these days are planning their wedding together, and if you immediately take the "guys like football girls like glitter" thing, you might be turning some people off. It's important to know your target audience, and go after them, but for the most part you should take a little while to learn about your prospect before making a broad assumption about their life - and see the next tip!

Make a connection, and be friendly.
According to the Splendid Communications article, "Millennials value authenticity. They have finely tuned BS detectors and have little patience for insincerity and gimmicks." Oh gosh is this ever true. Make an effort to forge a real connection with your prospects, remember names and details, and be friendly! For example, here's an email I got from a potential photographer after a bridal expo:
"It was such a pleasure to meet you at the Bridal Show today. I am so thrilled you chose my certificate as your prize for Bridal Bingo! Congratulations on your engagement and  June 1, 2013 wedding  - what an exciting time for you."
Keep in mind that we'd talked for maybe three minutes! Pretty stellar.

Make your website user-friendly.
Include a navigation bar, and tags or categories of some kind. Make sure your contact information is somewhere easily accessible on every single page of your website. Avoid writing in all-caps, using fancy unreadable text, or highlighting text in weird colors. Be aware that that photos sell your service, but be aware that you can posted at smaller than a full-size image that takes up my whole computer screen, or ftlog, my iPhone screen. I will get bored of scrolling through miles and miles of photos without any other information, or when in fact I'm looking for something else (see below).

State clearly what area(s) you serve and if you travel.
In the day and age of the Internet, chances are strong that prospects are finding your site through a mention on another blog, or a Twitter link, or from a gorgeous wedding they saw somewhere else. What all that means is that the person looking at your site might not already know what area you are in. Sure, while they might be there looking at all the gorgeous eye candy from your hard work, they also might actually be looking for a wedding vendor to do exactly what you do. Think about having your location (and/or if you travel!) prominently displayed on your site, like in a header, or in your website title and description. (And consider what this small change can do for your SEO!)

Take wedding photographer Jose Villa, for example:

[ image via Google ]

  • the website description that shows up on Google is "Southern California professional photographer and digital photographer and Southern CA wedding photography and studio specializing in Fine Art wedding..."
  • the website title that shows up on top of the webpage is "Southern California Professional Photographer Southern CA Wedding Photography Fine Art Wedding Photography"
  • the contact form has a bit that says "Available for travel worldwide."
Easy peasy. 

Make sure your mass email marketing has an unsubscribe link at the bottom.
This is important because you could be crossing over into some murky waters regarding unwanted email. If you don't have a simple (yes, the key word is simple!) unsubscribe link, chances are higher that your email will be marked as spam - and certain systems will completely disable your account after a certain number of spam complaints.

Include your contact information in all your emails
If you want people to contact you, make it easy for them! Be sure that you always have a signature line in individual emails, including your website, phone number, and even social media contact information. If you're sending an email blast, create a tasteful sidebar or header with your contact information, like this one that I received recently:
[ image via personal email
and heavily edited by me! ]

Obviously I blocked out her actual information and picture, but you get the point :)

Ask your clients to submit third-party reviews of your services. 
It's important to have reviews on your website, but those aren't going to be the be-all, end-all. Many brides want information from another source, and they're going to research you because, as Splendid Communications shares, "Millennials do their homework. They research everything and read an average of 13.9 reviews before making a purchase." If you don't have any reviews on Project Wedding, Weddingbee, Wedding Channel, or Wedding Wire, you're not giving the best impression of your services.

Asking someone to give you an honest review is a potentially scary thing, but as a business owner, you should do it. A great way to do this is to send a nice note to a recent client of yours, thanking them for being your client and asking them to please submit a review of your services to popular wedding websites, and/or submit a testimonial to you.

Proofread your writing. 

Then do it again. 

Then have someone you trust do it.
This applies to emails, your website, your contacts, and anything that you'll be putting that totally awesome logo and your name on! Be attentive and don't let things like this be associated with you or your services: "Congratulations there is a Sale Extention"


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