Marketing Decisions: Right, Wrong or None of the Above

Marketing Decisions
Marketing Decisions

Marketing Decisions are sometime made in a moment; other times, it days, weeks or months to make a firm decision… if one is made at all. This is a challenge for wedding professionals and wedding couples.

A wedding couple’s decision making process, if viewed from the position of a wedding professional, often feel mind boggling. What should be a ‘no-brainer’ or so we think, looks quite confusing to the couple.

The reason is simple: In most cases, the wedding is a first-time event, involving hundreds of choices, large and small, offered up to a couple with little or no experience… IN DECISION MAKING.

While business owners and managers may condescend to couples waffling over choices, wedding professionals suffer from the same kind of brain freeze; even when it comes to routine marketing decisions.

Why is decision making so challenging?

When teaching college a few years back, I noticed the high school system had trained its students for answering TRUE/FALSE, YES/NO, MULTIPLE CHOICE. In the real world, searching for A SINGLE right answer is often folly, and leads to head-scratching. I notice the same symptoms in business professionals, today, when giving seminars.

The choices presenting themselves often involve multiple options. A single best choices is usually different for your business than someone else’s. More complex opportunities, such as ‘Which Social Media Platforms are best for your company?” create a myriad of permutations. After all, it’s not enough to choose several social media platforms, one has to have an overall social media strategy, tactics for each platform chosen, and methods for measuring ROI to determine the value of all elements.

Overwhelmed, huh?

Part of the challenge exists, because many wedding businesses don’t stop to plan, frequently enough. Having 1-year or 5-year plans for your business used to be enough. Now, a 1-year marketing plan is too long a time period. It’s fine to have 1-year business goals, but marketing needs to be tweaked at midyear; perhaps more often.  Yes, changes and opportunities move that fast.

There are some easy choices, so commit

You’ve been exhibiting with a solid bridal show producer for 5, 10 or 20 years plus. They do what they promised to promote the show… Brides and Grooms show up to all shows. Rebook for the year, making this commitment a foundation of your marketing budget, improve your in-show presentation, and challenge yourself to better pre and post-show marketing. The show promoter’s job is to get people to the show. It’s your job to follow up with prospects and close the sale.

Shiny New Objects

It’s not necessary, and rarely smart, to latch onto the new publication, bridal show, website, etc. the moment it presents itself. Let your competitors be the guinea pigs.

“I had a simple formula when presented with new ‘lead generating’ opportunity. I asked myself if was following up effectively on all the leads coming my way from existing sources. If the answer was NO, I used it to stiffen my backbone and do two things. 1) Say No Thanks, or Not Yet to the new choice and 2) Get busy with following up on existing leads.”

~ Andy Ebon

Your website doesn’t make sales… online inquiries don’t make sales… bridal show generated leads don’t make sales. These are tools feeding your pipeline, but only you make the sale.

Don’t get confused by existing options, or worse, the new shiny options. Ask better questions of yourself, nail down the obvious marketing options, and stop looking for simple answers from the rest. You may find yourself with multiple-right answers.

Those are tough choices, but if you’ve assessed the options, well, you are in a no-lose situation. Nice problem!

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Bridal Show Exhibiting – Why or why not?

thumbs-up-brideThe second week of January is an ideal time for second guessing. Many bridal show producers are on a final push to fill their remaining booth space. Potential exhibitors may still be ‘on the fence’ about jumping in before the clock strikes midnight.

A Public Service Message?

Last evening, I read a blog post, penned by a Pennsylvania Wedding Planner, titled: Why your perfect wedding vendor might NOT be at the bridal show(s) you’re attending…

The post is politely written, praising many bridal shows, while simultaneously explaining why brides and grooms in their area likely won’t see them exhibiting.

The business owner-writer goes into great detail about the expenses involved of exhibiting, the difficulties of interacting with brides, and any number of issues which may limit the success of their business at a wedding show.

Justifying Our Own Point Of View

Whether we have success or failure in any marketing effort, we tend to project that outcome on our peers, regardless of their business context.

Listening to people’s opinions can be helpful, provided one understands their context and reasoning… and making sure you are clear on how it compares to your wants and needs.

Profit Potential Varies

The price for exhibiting in a given show (except for some add-on options) is the same for all businesses. However, the fees exhibitors charge their clients (and profit margins) varies widely. A venue might break-even on a single sale. A stationer might break-even on 7 sales.  And so on. When one is examining bridal show potential with another business, simple differences, such as these, make for apple and orange comparisons.

Ask A Bride How Much She Cares About Your Costs

… or your profitability, for that matter. You are far more likely to hear the words, “Can you match their price?” then “I want to make sure your earning a reasonable profit, working with me?

That is reality, but it misses the point.

Bridal Shows are not primarily for selling

They are for meeting brides and grooms, face to face, and setting appointments to have a thorough discussion about their needs, your services, and how the line up. AND THEN, ASK FOR THE ORDER. For some businesses, making sales at the show is just fine. For most wedding businesses, selling at the show is NOT the most effective of time.

Excuses Abound

  • There aren’t enough brides.
  • There are too many brides.
  • There are too many competitors, exhibiting in my category.
  • There aren’t enough businesses, exhibiting in my category.
  • I don’t make enough sales at the show.
  • The weather was bad during the last show.
  • …  add your excuse here…

Assess the situation, TODAY!

Ask yourself just a couple of questions:

  • Do I have unsold availability, particularly in the next 6-9 months?
  • Am I getting enough face time and appointments with brides?
  • Do I know the competitive situation for exhibitors in my category at upcoming shows? (Assume nothing – If you say, “My category is always packed,” you don’t really know. Ask the show producer what’s happening THIS season.
  • Disc jockeys. Florists. Limos, Bridal Gowns, Caterers, Live Music, Restaurants  – Are they sold to-the-max this season, or is there an opportunity.

You can’t win the Lottery, if you don’t enter!

(Snarky remark comes next) Position your mind and business for success. If you can’t rack up some appointments and sales at a winter bridal show, maybe it’s time to close up shop and go to work for Federal Express.

(Motivational thought comes now) Gather yourself, remember what’s exceptional about your product or service, refresh your staff on bridal show strategy, and get fired up!

Your competition doesn’t exist

For a day or two, ignore every direct and indirect competitor in your market, in the show, in the aisle. Focus on brides who haven’t purchased in your category, yet, AND MAKE APPOINTMENTS.

No excuses! Wishing you nothing but success!!

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon 
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Limousine Safety Regulation on Emergency Exits signed into law

limousine safetyLimousine rides, for wedding receptions, bachelor and bachelorette parties, are a symbol of free-spirited enjoyment surrounding marriage.

On May 4th, five women trapped in a Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine, died in an accidental fire, as their vehicle crossed the San Mateo – Hayward Bridge (San Francisco Bay Area). The passengers, all California nurses, were celebrating a bridal shower. Four women did manage to escape the vehicle, and survived.

CHP (California Highway Patrol) investigated the fire, isolating the cause as mechanical failure of the rear suspension. Friction between the drive shaft and metal frame created enough heat to cause the carpeting to catch fire.

Today, five months later, California Governor, Jerry Brown signed legislation requiring similar limousines to have a minimum of two emergency exits. In plain English, the new law requires push-out windows or escape hatches. Also, a safety briefing (similar to airline pre-flight safety announcements) will be required.

The law takes effect for new limousines, in July 2015; existing limos, in January 2016. Currently, over 4000 limousines are on California roads.

News Analysis, Opinion, and a Questions

I’m all-too-familar with the San Mateo – Hayward Bridge. In early 1978, I was rear-ended by a 2.5 ton Army truck, after DJing an event in Hayward, heading back to my office. It’s not much of a bridge. Most of it would be better be described as a causeway.

Considering location of the limousine, I can state, definitively access by emergency vehicles, to the scene, would be problematic, at best.

The Greater California Livery Association opposed the legislation. The organization wrote Governor Brown asking he veto the bill, explaining the exits could cause a “massive explosion,” by fueling any fire with oxygen. It also felt the timeline for implementation was too aggressive.

I don’t pretend to be either an expert on fires or legislation. On first glance, the new safety guidelines seem reasonable. I don’t know what the cost-factor is, but it doesn’t seem prohibitive (That’s SWAG – Strategic Wild Ass Guess). On the other hand, assertions about an influx of oxygen, creating an accelerant, would seem to be an arguable position. It is rather amazing to see legislation drafted, submitted, discussed, lobbied and passed in five months.

What do you think? How does it look from where you stand?

I’d be especially curious what professionals in the transportation business think.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog

‘Bouquet Couture’ is a ShowStopper at Bridal Spectacular

wedding bouquets

Wedding Bouquets are a common purchase for most brides. They come in many shapes and sizes; some more creative than others. In most markets, there are a number of floral designers that provide superior style and design to suit the discerning bride.

But, In walking the trade show floor of the Bridal Spectacular wedding show on Friday, one particular business jumped out at me as a ShowStopper, Bouquet Couture.

What they make…

“One-of-a-kind wedding bouquets for the bride and bouquets and boutonnieres for the entire bridal party.”

wedding bouquetIn chatting with the owners, Emily and Nicole, they emphasized a commitment to not repeat their work. So, from a design standpoint, each bride receives one-of-a-kind design and finished product. Photos and displays that showcase their work is for example and inspiration, only.

If a bride says, “I want to get THAT one!.”, she is politely told that the Bouquet Couture work-process is a little different. They interview each customer for style preferences, theme, hobbies, personal history, and other symbolic notions.

The final product is not simply beautiful or stylish, but a physical and emotional representation of the soul of the bride, 

Matchbook BouquetThe matchbox-bouquet (pictured right) is an excellent example of creativity meeting personal history. The bouquet was designed and constructed for a couple’s 40th anniversary celebration. During their decades together, they had collected matchbooks and matchboxes and restaurants, nightclubs, and the like. 

The finished bouquet makes a stunning show piece; much more dazzling than glass bowl, filled with matchbooks.

Among many exceptional businesses and show exhibits, Bouquet Couture brought me to a dead stop. And yes, they make boutonnieres, too.

Just brilliant creative work…

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog