First, for those that would rather the video on this, here it is in all it’s glory.
There are a lot of moving parts to run your wedding business, be it if you are a DJ, a Wedding Planner, a Photographer, or whatever your role is in this $300 billion dollar-a-year global industry. But do you have a grasp on the entire life-cycle of your business? I’m not just talking about getting a lead, or signing up for a social account, I mean the entirety of the process.
Yep, there is a lot to cover. But what is this infographic exactly? Well this is essentially two major sales and marketing concepts, first the basic marketing component of establishing your presence the second is now that content can be used (along with other elements) to be part of your sales funnel.
Since there is a ton of information here let’s tackle this all by each major section.
The Boy Scouts Motto
The first step in this entire process is to “Prepare”, and there are a lot of spiffy icons here. Let’d dive into this a bit more.
Your Website Is You, And You Are The Website
All roads lead to your website. While this is not an exclusive habit of every one of your potential clients, the fact remains that most people will end up at your website as some point. Given the influx of high quality templates out in the world there is no excuse to not have a quality website. If you don’t have the skills to use WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, or one of the many other platforms that will manage your site then I highly suggest that you hire someone to do so.
When developing your website, focus on the experience and value that you will bring to those potential clients. Don’t focus on equipment shots, senseless filler, or other things that are irrelevant to gaining that immediate interest. Keep your content concise and to the point, but not thin or less you get penalized for that. Design your content to make your couples want to talk to you right away. I’ve put an example of what I do on my “Why” page to break down the anatomy of a website that balances selling your value along with your past clients doing the same.
From all the options out there I highly recommend using WordPress with a reputable web hosting company like SiteGround which I have used happily for some time now. I think this gives you the most options to create your content, apply useful plugins like HubSpot Marketing.
It’s All About Local
For a while now Google has made local searches a primary focus for many industries including our own. This can be a combination of seeing local tiles and a maps search result. Google is always evolving it’s algorithms, the most recent major release in August 2017 some call the “Hawk” update. What this all means to you is that you best ensure that you are properly established to see results. This can include going to every major local listing engine, starting with Google and their “Google My Business” manager, to make sure your entry is there an correct.
Beyond that there is a great tool to use is the Moz Local for Small Business website that can allow you to manually go through each of the many web properties out there to manage your listings, or you can sign up for yearly automated management offering. A lot of this will come down to your budget and time available to manage it all, but given how critical local is now, it absolutely requires your attention.
I’ve seen it time and time again; companies that use a Gmail, Yahoo, or other consumer email address. Even some that have their domain registered (you best register your domain, like now, if you haven’t already) overlook a pretty important branding issue. Having a consumer domain name de-values your brand; plain and simple. Be your brand.
Now this is not to say that you shouldn’t use a big platform like Office 365 or Gmail to host your corporate email. It’s actually a very good idea to separate your web hosting from email hosting since no one will be able to host email better than those companies focused on that service. But do it right, manage your domain email through one of those services, and as a bonus you get additional services beyond email.
All Your Social Are Belong To Us
Sometimes it seems that there is a new social media platform to manage every day. And while it can be a bit daunting at times, the fact remains in this day and age you must maintain some form of social media presence to maintain relevancy or starting your business. So get out there and register your brand on all the platforms you can. Even if you don’t use it, you don’t want someone to steal your brand name.
Time To Make The Donuts
So now you have your website. You’ve registered your domain. You have a plethora of social media accounts. Now what? It’s time to create some content! Be it a text blog post, a vlog post, a live video; you want to be able to engage your audience. Think of some material that would be of interest, be it some tips or an all encompassing “hero” content that deep dives into an idea.
I try to make a mix of content for Paris Creative. I will put up blog posts of events that I have been at along with the client’s review, some pictures that either I have shot or the photographer has show, and some video of the event again from either my camera or a hired videographer. I also create wedding industry content, like this article, in my “For DJs Only” blog. I put up an occasional mixtape. And lastly I try to create some video where applicable.
Is This Mic On?
So now you have this great website, you are starting to create some content that people may want to read. But you have to be able to get your presence out there. And this is a pretty involved process so let break it down into a couple sections, SEO, Social, WOM, and Ads/SEM/SMM.
Seee, eeeeee, ooohhhh?
You have likely heard about SEO at some point, and heck you may even be doing some of the recommended best practices. But those best practices change from time to time, so all of us need to be on our P’s and Q’s and keep up to date on all the changes going on. Old practices get superseded by new ones, and the old could hurt you (like old school keyword seeding your pages). Moz has a good article on the latest trends and this article has a good checklist of things to look at. The long and short of it is to write good content that people will want to read, don’t try to fool the bots or you will get penalized, and make sure you follow good meta practices so Google and others remain happy. In time, these practices will not only elevate your articles but elevate your core site. That means higher organic rankings, and more eyes on your website.
Social Outreach Program
Social media is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to reach to people. You have your network of friends that would love to hear from you, and some will be quick to like, favorite, thumbs up, and share your content. And this helps keep brand awareness between your friends and possibly even your past clients that are now hopefully following your pages.
But there is an inherit problem with this; reaching out directly to new clients. Sure you can make public posts, and they could reach your friend’s friend’s friend’s, but the chance of exposing your brand is minimal without paying a “toll” (more on that later).
This does not mean you should not make content and not share it out? On the contrary, some of the biggest value you can create are these new nuggets of info that will draw in people.
WORD. OF. MOUTH.
There is nothing more invigorating than knowing that you are getting potential clients from your network of peers or past clients. What matters is that you are capturing people “the old fashioned way”, even if it’s nudged by all the modern methods. But don’t think for a minute that you can thrive on word of mouth alone. Those referred people will want to verify you first. This is where if you don’t have a quality website, and a social presence, can end up harming you in the end.
The Ad Bucket
Each year I put together my analysis of my own advertising dollars and what my perceived Return On Investment (ROI) is, so I am not going to get into great detail on this in this article. But the general rule of thumb here is you have to spend some money on advertising. Now this can be just your website, this can include specific wedding web properties like The Knot and Wedding Wire, this could mean targeted ads for AdWords with Search Engine Marketing (SEM), this can mean targeted ads on Facebook with Social Media Marketing (SMM). And there is no magic bullet here, there is no single source that works for everyone. It’s trial and error, but if you analyze your results early on you can get a pulse on what will work for you.
We’ve Got One!
Just like Annie Potts screaming out in joy that they got a lead in Ghostbusters (which secretly is a movie about “the little guy” and entrepreneurial spirit, and well other spirits) this is all about getting leads. And hopefully with the right combination of Ads, SEO, Social, and Word Of Mouth, the leads will be pouring in. But now this is where the fun begins. You need to not only sell yourself but you need to manage all these leads and get them as a paying customer. As I have mentioned in many conversations, the wedding industry is one of the hardest industries to work in because very seldom do you get repeat customers. You are trying to attract new customers every year and not get any revenue from prior patrons.
So you need to develop a system for lead management. For some they may use something as simple as a spreadsheet and lots of manual effort. I am close to releasing my lead/event/business management tool called eCUEity that will automate a lot of this process and allow you greater visibility into your business, but that is for another article.
But you need to find that balance of the right nudging along without being annoying, keeping the interest there as the couple is going through their search (this is were some of those tips and idea articles can come in real handy). And with the right balance you can lock in your client!
Hey, Remember Me?
So you’ve wrapped up your event with your client. Now it’s time to remind them to review your services. Personally I submit an email out at the end of every wedding thanking them for my service and giving them links to the dominant review sites. Given that many couples go on honeymoon right after, and then returning back they may have a lot on their plate including moving in together or buying their first house, sometimes it can take a while to get their reviews in. So I will send reminders for a bit and in general a good portion of my clients participate in reviewing my services.
There is a reason why I put Yelp in this section but faded them out. There are gotchas with Yelp. First, they weigh their rankings such that if you have someone new on Yelp reviewing you, or with just a couple reviews, they will most likely demote that review. That pretty much sucks, but they legally can do it. They are also officially saying that businesses should not solicit reviews and I (and others) personally think that is the wrong approach. At that rate a business should never advertise a Yelp sticker on site since that would be encouraging reviewing. But I digress.
You should also look into keeping constant communication with your peers. Vendors and venues represent a treasure trove of potential leads. Don’t let these sources go to waste. Send random email reminders, send holiday cards. Maintain those relationships.
It’s All About The Analytics Baby
Oh you thought this was over? You reached the finish line, you taken your curtain call, and you are off to the next client? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
If you want to improve your business you need to analyze this entire process. You should aggregate all your sales, your loses to competition, your sources from where couples came from, how much you paid (if at all) for that couple in advertising dollars and determine if you are where you want to be or if you need to make changes. This is another one of the reasons I am building eCUEity because right now there really is nothing in the market that addresses these queries. Right now I take data out of my event management software that I have been using for a while, put it into a spreadsheet, and I’ve build heat maps, trend analysis, ROI, and the like so I have qualified information to make decisions.
We all should take a step back a few times a year and see if we are on track, if there are trends that we were not aware of on a micro scale but can see it from a larger perspective. That is how we potentially grow, how we run our businesses efficiently. And in the end that should be all of our goals.
The Sum Of The Parts
I hope this article was informative and brought some new light into some parts or the entire life-cycle process. Yes, there is a lot to process, yes running a business in this day and age of the gig economy where you fill in so many roles can seem to be a daunting task. But it can be done.
Author Biography: Lou Paris of Paris Creative
Lou Paris has been DJing since 1988 and has a deep passion for music of all styles and genres. Coincidentally Lou is also a successful 20+ year IT professional and has merged many technology concepts to ensure a successful night of entertainment. Click here to learn more about Lou's background.