Wedding Industry Analysis and Opinion
In the wake of yesterday’s stunning announcement by Conde Nast, closing down both Elegant Bride and Modern Bride magazines, I thought it wise to step back and analyze the prospects of wedding industry print media and how the local wedding business is affected.
Yesterday’s news was as much (or perhaps more) a consolidation, than a simple pair of closures. Conde Nast explained its intent to increase the publication frequency of Brides Magazine. That decision will absorb some of the content that otherwise would have appeared in Elegant Bride and Modern Bride.
Rack Space vs. Redundancy
Part of marketing cereal, soda, magazines or any retail product in a grocery store is roadblocking competition by offering multiple choices from one company. However, for Conde Nast, having three separate wedding publications seem to have reached the point of diminishing return. Its move to consolidate doesn’t necessarily represent a sudden, massive realignment in the weddings industry. Rather, a logical, reasonable move for greater efficiency.
It is fact that virtually all wedding publications also have websites. Many local publications also produce bridal shows. Those that don’t produce shows often are sponsors of bridal shows.
Small Business Relevancy
Is this news about national publications important to the local business? Not so much.
Small business owners are notorious for being easily distracted and failure to have a cohesive marketing plan.
What is the purpose of wedding publications for the advertiser?
Despite the fact that it is a web-centric world, to be sure, brides still read wedding publications, in all shapes and sizes. Free publications, fee-based and subscription publications; local, regional, and national publications. As such, the primary purpose of advertising in print is to drive traffic to one’s website.
Small business often misconstrue the failure of their print ads, blaming it on the publication, specifically, or more generally, on the demise of print. Nonense!
Most Wedding Print Ads Stink
My criticism of wedding print ads comes from reading many publications, in many markets. The ads are often pretty, but they still are ineffective. In my view, I set the stink-factor for local print ads at 75% or more.
Some of the major reasons for poor ROI on print ads are:
- Failure to use a compelling headline (the name of your business is not a headline).
- Cluttering an ad with too much information – The purpose of the ad is to make the phone ring or drive people to a website. One doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) attempt to include any feature or benefit within an ad.
- Using cheesy illustrations or second rate photographs rather than professional images.
- Using images of the business owner rather than the happy bride in the wrong situations (there are exceptions, here).
- Failure to update/improve one’s ad on a regular basis.
- Failure to track the inbound source of leads, thoroughly (or at all).
The list is actually much longer; however, I think the point is clear. Any wedding publication is a messenger. It is responsible for delivering your ad to brides, in the context of wedding editorial (articles and pointers), packaged in a pleasing, easy-to-read package.
Do not confuse the effectiveness of a second-rate ad and poor lead tracking with the strength or weakness of a specific publication or the decline and fall of the entire wedding print segment.
Here’s your assignment
Without asking you to have a written marketing plan, today (I’ll do that closer to year-end), I urge you to do one thing. Hire a professional copywriter… to refashion your print ads and update your website copy, from top to bottom.
Often, a publisher will accept the task of producing your ad. They often do a fine job of creating excellent finished artwork for a lousy ad because you supply them poor copywriting and concept.
Typically, websites are populated copy that was originally conceived for brochures. That may have been fine, ten years ago. Not today. Surfing brides scan copy. Crisp sentences, paragraph breaks and bullet points are key. The purpose of the website, as it relates to prospect, is to stimulate a phone call or an online inquiry.
The unlimited capacity of websites can seduce one into overstocking it with extraneous content. It becomes like a cluttered closet. Websites can be so overstuffed that the viewer can’t find the important content among the outdated junk.
Seeing The Future
Publishers cannot be solely in print media. To have a present and a future, they must deliver content and advertising in multiple media. Get Married Media is probably the best example of a growing, multi-media company, targeting the wedding industry. They are about enter Season Three of their Television show, they have a national website, with local advertising opportunities, and they are launching their new magazine, this month.
Get Married’s use of Microsoft Tag Technology, beginning with their Premier Issue (October 2009), offer brides the opportunity to transition from the print page to a website/video. This connection between print and web make their magazine stand out by innovation. This technology will spread quickly; however, right now, Get Married Magazine is the first to apply Microsoft Tags in the wedding category.
Focus on improving your ad, not on the market dynamics, locally or nationally. Business categories tend to expand and contract through natural market conditions. Two publications in your market may be fine. Three may be too many.
Newcomers make big promises. Let other advertisers take those risks. Give the edge to established, ethical, trust worthy publishers (bridal show producers, websites, etc.,) and work on improving your ad content.
THAT is my recommended assignment.
The Wedding Marketing Blog