Why I don’t focus on wedding vendors (and you shouldn’t either)...

Jan 09, 2019 | Industry

Happy New Year industry people! Well it's been a wee while since I popped into here and wrote about anything going on in the industry but I'm aiming to change that during 2019. I get asked a lot to share more goings on behind the scenes, more insights into things like social media and how our audience uses our blog, and just general Wedding Sparrow goings-on. So here we go...

I'm starting off this year with a bit of a statement. Bear with me! I don't focus on wedding vendors. There I said it! LOL. Of course I love you guys (lots of you are now good friends of mine!) but concentrating on the industry as a whole does nothing for my audience. Spending too much time chatting with photographers and organising industry events doesn't build my audience of brides and therefore doesn't get my awesome Fine Art Curation members work.

2017 & 2018 brought a lot of realisation within the wedding industry as a whole that it's changing and so is the audience. If you want your audience to be wedding vendors and that's how you make money, then great! It's a super friendly industry to work in and I love it but for me, Wedding Sparrow is a BRIDAL resource. And that's where there can be some confusion. I'm often asked, 'Will you do workshops? I'd love to attend.', 'Do you do annual Image Awards/Competitions?', 'Do you host courses to learn about social media/blogging etc?'. The answer for me is no. Not because I wouldn't love to do these but for my business, these things don't bring in the brides. And if I'm not focussing on them, how can my paying vendors get a great ROI? They can't. So what am I actually doing?

THE YEAR OF THE BRIDE

We're going old-school. We're getting to know where she is, what she likes, who she is. How are we doing it? A few different ways:

  1. Giveaways - Not just any old 'enter and win'. Much more strategic. What does the Wedding Sparrow reader really want? It's got to be a product they would tag as many friends as they can to win. How easy is it for them to win it? I can't scare them off with a million follows and a long customer journey/experience. How often to run them? Often enough to warrant the new followers sticking around for more potential prizes but not so often that we look like a spammy feed! What do your existing vendors get out of that? How can I make them a part of it so they benefit from thousands of new followers? We recently did a 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway and it was hugely successful. Hosting 12 separate giveaways over 12 days each with a different vendor from our Fine Art Curation gained 17,723 extra likes and 8,211 entries. That's on top of the additional 612,000+ reach we got our account in front of. What does this actually mean for them (and us)? Engagement. The key to any successful social medium is having people actually interact with you. Easier said than done sometimes but this way, we were able to appeal to the right kind of audience (brides only as we gave away wedding products), and get them all to engage with us (follows, likes and comments). Voila!
  2. Content - We spent years honing our editorial eye to include the most high end style imagery and unusual styling. The truth was it ended up refining our niche to an even smaller audience - fine art, film, AND high end fashion. What we needed to do was have a balance. A balance between what the audience wants to see (details, where they can shop for a certain product, who created this image content) and what we love to see (high end, emotive, a story, industry-forward style).
  3. Getting in front of a new audience - engaged brides have a 'life cycle' of approx 12-18 months max so we're constantly having to root out the best ways to get in front of them consistently. We can't become complacent about the fact we have an audience and they're there to stay. So how do we do it? This is something I like to talk in depth about at workshops I speak at and it's something that attendees have told me for years that's the most helpful. You have to know who your bride is. Where she shops, what she wears, what she watches, what she does for a living, and who she looks at online. Once you know what she's looking at, you can start to get in front of her. This terms is affectionately called 'hijacking' as you comment on the feeds that she's looking at on social media. For example, she looks at Darling Magazine's feed regularly so you drop a comment on there (hopefully your handle is something like @sparrowphotography and not @sprrw_81_heart_cats otherwise people won't know what you do for a living). This is enabling you to get in front of a targeted audience (your demographic but perhaps not engaged yet). This is outside of the wedding industry. If you're looking to target engaged people, obviously you'll be commenting on the larger accounts and publications (SMP, Brides, Martha, Wedding Sparrow...). You can also watch popular hashtags that might be relevant (#SMPringselfie #theKnot #ISaidYes #IDo2019 etc).
  4. Getting social - I kind of knew the answer to this but very recently I posted a Poll on our Instagram Stories and the question was 'How do you want to see your inspiration' with the options being 'BLOG' or 'SOCIAL MEDIA'. Now we've all known for a while that audiences are more on social than ever before but is a quick image enough to inspire someone without seeing the full post/story? It turns out it might be. A whopping 91% of voters told us they'd rather see their inspiration on social media. Does that mean the end of the blog as we know it? Probably not. If you have a 'voice' and a strong brand presence you'll always need your blog. But, this is another way in which we need to move our marketing models in 2019. Last year we started offering Social Bundles. Online sponsorship has not only proved to be our most popular advertising method, it provides more instant results, a quicker ROI and a much more interactive advertising method in many ways. How are you getting social with your potential clients?

These are just a few ways in which we as a brand target our audience and we're taking on 2019 with a renewed sense of direction for increasing the ROI for our vendors. I'd love to hear what works for you as a vendor too so please do leave a comment below! This industry is constantly changing and opening up the conversation as to how we're booking couples enables publications like ours to mould their business model to help too.

As always, if anyone wants to chat more about advertising and what might work for your business, hit me up via email here...

Comments

7 Comments
JN
Juliette Nguyen - 10 January 2019

This makes total sense!! Some things I can carry forward for my own business, actually :)

CG
Claire Graham - 10 January 2019

A very useful read, thanks for sharing Sara x

LF
Lauren Fair - 10 January 2019

This is sooooo good

CS
Charla Storey - 10 January 2019

Yes! Love this!

KA
Kerstin Auer - 10 January 2019

Great read Sara and a few things I have been secretly thinking all along especially re workshops! So good to hear this from someone like you and also love which direction you are taking WS! So happy being part of this community! Now let’s start booking those brides

AK
Ashley Kendall - 10 January 2019

Thank you! Real eye opener for me.

EB
Erika B - 9 January 2019

This is so good to hear! I can’t tell you how many times I hear other photogs wondering why they don’t book when they advertise with a blog that is appealing to other photogs! *face palm*

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