Whether you're all revved up for the New Year, or you're feeling a bit exhausted, every wedding business owner could use a little time to re-set before jumping into wedding season. As we enter 2017, we're looking forward to sharing a lot more of our learnings with you. Below, a few of our best tips for the taking!
10. Resolve To... Evangelize Your Brand
Do you and your team live and breathe your brand? Consider the words, the colors and the photos you're using to represent your offerings. Then critically review them and edit as needed. One helpful way of looking at it: Identify the words, colors and images you would never use. Knowing and understanding your brand and ensuring it's completely consistent, will help ensure that everything your potential client receives the right message both online and in person.
Gold Star Points: Build a brand guideline booklet or one-sheet and walk through it with your team this month to help them better understand what it is you're trying to do. Even if you don't have a team, creating one of these will help solidify what it is you're doing. Never seen a brand guidelines sheet? We pinned a few here.
9. Resolve To... Schedule Your Social Media Posts
As in, stop thinking of social media as an after-thought or a chore that you have to tick off your to-do list everyday. Be proactive. Set aside one day every week to sit down and actually schedule out all of your posts for the week. You don't have to post 10 times per day. You just need to post consistently. Try Hootsuite (it's free) to schedule out your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts.
Gold Star Points: In addition to weekly social schedule meetings, schedule monthly planning meetings with you or you and the team. Talk about the content you want to put out there over the next 30 days, the people you want to partner with and the topics you want to broach. Trust us: Treating social media like it's part of your day job will make it so much easier to own in the end.
8. Resolve To... Use Your Insights and Analytics Tabs
We're talking about the built-in analytics tabs across social media channels as well as Google analytics -- all of which are free 99. Use these tools and you'll be able to tell the times when your followers are most likely to interact with you, the best times of the week to post to Instagram, the topics to post about, and even the types of photos and videos that work best for your business. On Facebook, it's called the "Facebook Insights" tab. If you have a business account on Instagram, you'll see a little icon that looks like four bars. Tap it and you'll uncover a world of insights to help you post more effectively.
Gold Star Points: Set goals and benchmarks for yourself. For example, maybe your average number of likes on Instagram is 50. Set a goal to get more than 200 likes and work toward it by figuring out exactly what type of content (maybe it's bouquets or place settings) and colors (do pinks and golds do well for you or are the deeper tones more popular?) work and treat it like a long-term project.
7. Resolve To... Focus on Engagement (Not Followers)
Stop. Obsessing. Over. Your. Follower. Number. Sure, there's a certain amount of klout that comes with a large follower number. But what would you rather have? A bunch of followers who could care less about what you post and what you have to say? Or a smaller group of loyalists who interact with you on each and every post? Engagement (not followers) is the key to driving real results.
Gold Star Points: Mind your hashtags on Instagram. If you really want people to find your posts, you have to help them find you. That's where hashtags come in. For every hashtag you add to a post, you're creating more of an opportunity for people beyond your followers to find and discover you. How to make it happen? Instagram allows you to post up to 30 hashtags at a time to your posts. Instead of jamming them into your posts, create a strand of hashtags associated with your content and save them to your phone. Then, after you post to Instagram, go back into your phone and copy and paste those hashtags to a comment on your post. It's like seo for Instagram. (Genius.)
6. Resolve To...Ask For Reviews
Whether you like it or not, your potential clients are STALKING you all over the internet. And that very much includes reviews sites. Make sure your most recent clients have taken the time to review you. It doesn't work to have reviews from more than a year ago. They have to be from clients who most recently used you. If for some reason, you receive a less-than-glowing review, it's also up to you to manage your reputation online. Reply to the review by acknowledging the comments and explaining what you did to make it right. Managing reviews like this not only shows your past clients that you care, but it shows future ones how seriously you take their business.
Gold Star Points: Set up an alert system that reminds you to reach out to clients post-wedding to ensure you're getting as many reviews up as possible. Psst: Rave reviews on The Knot leads to Best of Wedding awards!
5. Resolve To... Check Everything on a Phone First (Then a Laptop)
More than half of website visits happen on a PHONE not a laptop. And, not to be harsh, but if your potential client lands on your website and it looks broken or it's hard to read, they're going to look elsewhere for someone to hire. You have to make sure that your website looks and functions perfectly on a phone. The same goes for any newsletters or other marketing materials you send out. It all has to be mobile-first.
Gold Star Points: If you're working with a site that doesn't look nice on a phone, it may be time to switch website solutions. The good news is that Wordpress, SquareSpace and ShowIt are all out-of-the-box solutions designed to help you manage your content easily and automatically work well on a phone.
4. Resolve To...Claim Your Google Business Page (And Storefronts)
If you haven't claimed your business page on Google and your storefront on The Knot, you very well could be turning away clients. That's because in addition to asking their friends and family, perusing sites like TheKnot.com, couples are using search to look for potential wedding pros. When they search for, say, "wedding florists in los angeles," Google is going to give precedence to the businesses that have claimed their businesses.
Gold Star Points: Upgrade your account on The Knot. Sure it's a shameless plug. But we wouldn't suggest it if it didn't work. Try going from a freemium to a profile. Or upgrade your profile to a premium position in our search page. Generally speaking, the higher up on the page, the more leads. Just sayin.
3. Resolve To... Submit Weddings to Publications
Yes, it's important to do your own PR by publishing your recent work to social media. But consider the publications with enormous followings (ahem) and the power they have to truly amplify your brand. Enter real wedding editorial features. When a brand like The Knot (with its 1.1 million Instagram followers), publishes a photo of your work, you're ending up in the feeds of far more people than you ever could have reached. So beyond the fact that getting published comes with a certain level of cache and industry klout, it has real marketing value too.
Gold Star Points: Do a little stalking of your own to pinpoint exactly where you'd like to be published and how to make that happen. TwoBrightLights.com lets you submit to 100s of blogs. Bonus: You can submit to TheKnot.com and The Knot magazines for free using TwoBrightLights.com/theknot
2. Resolve To... Update Your Website Portfolio
It's great that your Instagram feed is beautifully curated but it's not okay if your website isn't. Why? Because couples aren't finding you ONLY on Instagram. They're looking for you everywhere to make sure that you're the type of person they have in mind. That means that if they find you one place, they're going to look you up elsewhere. Make sure that when they click on that Portfolio tab of your website, that it doesn't look like you think black and white damask weddings are still a thing. Yipes.
Gold Star Points: Blog about it. We know, we know. You've heard that blogging is so five years ago. Besides it takes too long anyway. We have news for you. Blogging about the work you've created is a fantastic way to create traffic to your website through Google (rich content makes it easy for search spiders to crawl your site and index your content). It's also a great way to pick up traffic from other sources like The Knot (our editors stalk too!) and Pinterest (pin all of those images from your blog post to create more avenues to your website).
1. Resolve To...Follow The 5-Second Rule
Consider this: You have about 5 seconds to sell yourself to a millennial couple. So take inventory of how a potential client will find you online and then ask yourself: am I communicating what I'm all about at a glance? Are your images in your Instagram feed curated and interesting? Does your Facebook feed look active and fun? Do the words and images on your website establish expertise, communicate your brand, and outline your offerings? Are all of the links on your website working? Check them! And not to mention, is it easy to find your contact information? (Hint: The home page of your website is best.)
Gold Star Points: Create an About Me page that truly feels personal. Instead of telling everyone how much you love weddings, tell them your story. Tell them how you got there. Explain to them, what motivates you and why you do what you do. And don't be afraid to be personal about other parts of your life. Do you love your dog? Mention him! Do you spend your downtime watching nerdy Netflix documentaries? Say it. It's the personal information that's going to help you cut through the clutter and make a connection before you've even had that first conversation.
Want more? (Yeah you do!)