BSPI (Bridal Show Producers International)are gathering in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida this week for their annual conference. The 3-day conference has a star-studded group of presenters, including both members and industry leaders.
Wedding Industry Speakers
Some of the industry presenters are: Bevin Stella (The Knot), Sonny Ganguly (Wedding Wire), Andy Ebon (Wedding Marketing Expert – The Knot), Alan Berg (Wedding Marketing Guru – Wedding Wire).
BSPI is an international association with member companies throughout the United States, Western Europe, and New Zealand.
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog
In the wake of the departure of Get Married Founder, Stacie Francombe, many questions were left about the present and future of Get Married Media. I thought it wise to arrange a phone call interview with its CEO, Anita Brady. That phone conversation took place earlier this week, and this post answers many of the question I had.
My perspective, in advance of the discussion:I first met members of the Get Married team at the Wedding MBA 2008, in Phoenix, AZ. I struck up a cordial relationship with various people from the Atlanta-based company, as I seek to do with people with all wedding industry media. I met Get Married Founders, Stacie and Dave Francombe during the Catersource conference in Las Vegas, January 2011.
Since those beginnings, major events included Get Married launched a quarterly, national magazine, early last year… and discontinuing their TV show, after three seasons, on two channels. The first two seasons were hosted by high-profile event planners, David Tutera and Colin Cowie. This past year, Stacie Francombe hosted the show, as it migrated from Lifetime TV to WeTV.
The big promotional event for Get Married was a New Year’s Eve wedding, in Times Square. The event garnered a significant number of major sponsors, and, despite mother nature, came off nicely. Stacie Francombe emceed the event, which was webcast using the Party On! service (launched in December 2010). The event received a significant amount of secondary news coverage.
As a function of format, I will share the major elements of our discussion by summary, rather than verbatim, question and answer. The reason is simply for clarity… to provide information that I believe is relevant to wedding industry businesses.
Anita and I had reviewed each other’s bios and background. My blog, our LinkedIn sites, and more. She is from New Jersey. Me, from New York City. The other geographic we have in common isThe Berkshires area in Western Massachusetts. She spent a significant amount of time working for the Crane Paper Company in Dalton, Massachusetts. Crane was founded over 200 years ago and is an industry icon. In my ancient youth, my parents and I would vacation in the The Berkshires (Dalton, Hinsdale, Pittsfield, Stockbridge), so I know the area, and Crane, well. My parents honeymooned in Stockbridge, in 1949.
One of the first items of clarification was “Who exactly owns Get Married Media?”. It’s not TOP SECRET information, but the company is privately held, not public, so I thought I should confirm what I knew, which was common knowledge in the industry. The parent company of Get Married Media is Taylor Corporation, a Minnesota-based company. Taylor made the purchase about three years ago.
In relative terms, Anita Brady is new to the company, having joined Get Married Media as its CEO in June 2010. What became clear to me was that Stacie Francombe had been the continuing public face of Get Marriedfor the last three years, though she no longer had an ownership interest in the company. I say that to be factual. It shouldn’t be particularly shocking. It is not unusual for a founding entrepreneur to sell a company, in part or whole, and then continue to work for the company in a specific capacity. Sometimes the secondary relationship lasts a long time; others a short time. Three years seems pretty good in my opinion.
Get Married TV: In explaining the termination of the show, the explanation/reasons revolved around the show’s financial viability. The landscape for wedding-related TV shows has changed, dramatically, in the last three years. There are now many shows in the wedding category competing for the same audience and advertising dollars. Rather than continue to produce its own show, Get Married has already become an advertiser to drive bride traffic to its website, GetMarried.com.
Get Married – The Magazine: Presently, it is a quarterly, with a distribution of about 300,000 copies per issue: 1.2 million annually. When it launched, Get Married Magazine was the first, in the wedding category, to employ Microsoft Tags offering advertisers (and itself) a link from 2-dimensional print to the internet. Using a cellphone, bride can capture the tag-image, and it will launch a web page with additional information, images, video, etc., about the advertiser.
I asked about the success of the feature. The most important conclusion is this: Advertisers that built a specific landing page for their tag-related promotion reported far more success than those that just linked to the welcome page of their website. This is not shocking to me, at all. It’s what I recommend for Facebook campaigns, local wedding magazine ads, bridal show promotion links. Have a landing page, other than the home page, specifically linked directed from each promotion.
In its next issue, the magazine will move from Microsoft Tags to the more common QR codes to accomplish the same result.
The GetMarried.com website: While there is a section for local ads in the magazine, the primary vehicle for wedding industry businesses are advertising opportunities on the website. Traffic to the website is not the best nor worst in the industry. Currently, it is averaging about 100,000 unique visitors a month (this number is from my research). The company is in process of a major enhancement of the website, which should wrap up in the next 2-3 months. As one would expect, one of its goals is to improve SEO to improve traffic, ultimately to provide more impressions and click-throughs for the advertisers.
Support of Wish Upon A Wedding: During the last year, Stacie Francombe was the National Public Relations Chair for Wish Upon A Wedding. Support of the organization also included a full-page ad in the last issue of the magazines (I have not checked previous issues). I was told that support of Wish Upon A Wedding would be unwavering going forward (Disclosure: I serve on the Wish Upon A Wedding National Board as its Social Media Chair, so I had a specific interest in asking that question).
News Analysis and Opinion: Get Married Media is going through significant transition and reinvention, from a strategic standpoint. The choice to discontinue Get Married TV when the magazine is just beginning its second year is a tricky move. Ultimately, the future success of the company rests with the enhancements to its website, both for readers (brides) and advertisers. I’m sure there are other surprises to be unveiled in the coming months, but I’m not privvy to everything.
My recommendations for you, the advertiser: I am careful to rarely recommend specific wedding media for advertisers. I don’t know enough about YOUR particular business or the success of national, regional or local media in YOUR market. So, my advice, as it relates to Get Married and all its competitors is this: Evaluate web traffic, magazine distribution, etc., based on YOUR MARKET. For web traffic, you should understand how much traffic is reaching your local area of any site, and what the click-through rates are in YOUR CATEGORY. For different businesses, your own parameters may determine different choices… and those various choices may all be effective, depending on your business, and many individual factors.
In unrelated/related news (take your pick): What has become of Stacie Francombe? – As best as I understand, her departure can be described as an amicable, mutual parting of the ways. Soon after leaving Get Married, Stacie launched a Facebook Community and blog: Celebrity Wedding Reporter. The blog has, at its slogan: “Celebrity Style For Your Walk Down The Aisle.” The blog is not advertiser supported.
As a parting question, I asked Anita if she had any opinion about Stacie’s new blog. I heard a smile in her voice, and her words were, effectively, a ‘no comment.’ I wasn’t expecting a ringing endorsement, but I followed up by asking, “You don’t think it’s a big deal, do you?” Anita replied with, “No, not really.”
That small exchange felt about right to me, from the standpoint of tone. After all, Get Married’s challenges and future successes will be based on improving their own standing and competing with big players, such as The Knot, Wedding Wire, and other magazines and websites.
A warm Thank You to Anita Brady, Get Married CEO, for her willingness to spend over an hour on the phone with me, so I could share relevant information with you.
It was edgy by design (so what else is new) and generated a lot of comments.
Sunday night, I was burning the midnight oil and before turning off the lights, I thought I’d check my blog statistics. There was a huge spike in activity. It came from a message board on Wedding Wire. In doing research, one bride found my post, and shared it with other brides (and grooms).
Even as the Apple aficionado that I am, I had elected to wait before buying my first iPad, preferring to see which model and capacity would suit me.
So, it was with great curiosity that I asked Sonny, “After a couple of months, how are you using your iPad, and how has it affected the way you use other computers, desktop or laptop?”
He gleefully explained how using email and surfing the web were dramatically superior to a desktop or laptop computer. But his bigger excitement was two-fold: how he sees the iPad as a reading device for books, magazines, and documents… and, how he is comfortable leaving the laptop at the office, coming home with only the iPad.
Sonny further described that for many or most business trips, the iPad would be sufficient for his needs.
Apple iPads has sold 3 million units in the first 80 days of availability. That’s a nice statistic, but I’m far more interested in talking to Sonny and other peers, to understand how each person is using theirs. This is a complex device, and has features that will appeal to, or have specific use, differently, for different people.
I would anticipate that as more magazines and books develop enhanced content and features for the iPad the rapid evolution via this new medium will pick up speed. The Apple iPad is more than just another shiny new object. It looks to be a quantum leap forward, and will be curious to see how all this will apply to wedding marketing.
Still curious? See this video from the folks at Wired Magazine, and see what they have cooking on the Apple iPad.
Oh… and when you’re done watching the video. If you’re an iPad owner, please share YOUR experience with other readers.