Image by Hannah Duffy Photography.
Many of you will be going through a rather stressful and intense period of postponements and discussions with your couples. In short, your focus is on the here and now and there’s not much room for anything else.
As we navigate this path and adjust to the realities of this pandemic, anxiety and overwhelm will be perfectly normal (albeit unwelcome) companions. However, as we start to come out of crisis mode, and we will, we will find ourselves in a period of stability and planning. This is the time where we should look ahead to future business, future bookings and future success.
Which is why you still need to be visible during the coronavirus.
With this in mind, we want to guide you through some immediate but simple areas we think are important during this time.
Couple’s haven’t stopped wedding planning and are using this time to research. When brides and grooms feel they can move forward with their buying decisions, they will already know who they want to get in touch with, who they want to now view in real life and who they found comfort in during this critical time.
We want that ‘who’ to be you.
There’s hope – couple’s are still venue searching
We aren’t going to feed you some fibs about how we saw a surge in traffic or our enquiries doubled the moment Covid-19 hit, because they didn’t.
If we compare 15th – 28th March to last year then overall we saw a -41% drop in visitors to our platform and we feel this is a very fair view of the general buying mood for couples venue searching. Although disappointing, we of course expected this, we had all just been hit by the news our everyday way of life was about to change.
People lost their jobs, they lost their freedom and for a moment they lost their confidence in what the future looked like.
However since yesterday (Sunday 29th March) we have seen our traffic climbing once again. As we all find our new normal, confidence will return and those who got engaged in December or early this year will want to start planning their big day again. Yesterday alone we saw a +35% increase on venue finder engagement, +70% on quick views, +50% on click-throughs to your websites and +43% in couples adding venues to a shortlist.
There are celebrations and bookings beyond coronavirus, so make sure you’re still around to be found.
How to be Visible right now
Be the leader
Many venues will be wondering how and what to communicate on their social feeds during this current crisis. Don’t allow doubt and fear to stop you from saying anything, but equally don’t carry on as if nothing is happening, because it is. You need to find the balance between acknowledging the current climate and inspiring couples at the start of their planning journey. Some days you won’t feel like posting and that’s 100% OK, but when you do here are some considerations:
- Offer a supportive message to couples who were due to marry with you but have now had to postpone.
- Post a message of love and ‘check in’ with your followers to see how they’re doing.
- Show your face, say hello and be there – people connect with people.
- Share testimonials from couples who you have helped during this crisis.
- Get hold of the images from your last weddings to share with your community.
- For couples still looking, assure them you are still around to welcome their enquiries.
- Share helpful planning tips.
- Showcase inspirational images from previous weddings to get them excited about their potential wedding with you.
- Give your favourite suppliers a shout out, because they’re feeling this too.
Businesses must continue and we must show strength as the industry leaders we are.
You may have heard the word ‘authentic’ being thrown around when it comes to social media, well now more than ever being authentic is so important to you and your brand.
Go back to basics and take a look at what you, your venue and your brand stands for. What’s your tone of voice? What are your values? Who are your ideal couples? Continue to communicate in the same way and continue to reach out to those couples who are right for your venue. Don’t feel the pressure or focus in on what other venues are saying, posting or doing – instead do what feels right for you.
Also, don’t be afraid to show a little vulnerability right now – we’re all feeling the same.
A spot of house-keeping
Use this time to do some house-keeping, here’s our check list:
- Social Media – take a look across all of your channels and ensure feeds are looking consistent (same profile logo/image), you’re scheduling regular posts and you have crediting procedures in place. For Instagram I heartily recommend Mosaico for planning out your feeds. Check your current insights to see if your engagement times have changed due to people now being at home, then adjust your schedule accordingly.
- Wedding Directories & Blogs – give your listings some love by checking they’re up to date with key contact details, especially if anything has changed due to staff being furloughed. If you have new images or a virtual tour link to add then do!
- Your website – whether it’s getting your head round SEO, finally sharing a blog, updating your key marketing images or reviewing your copy/branding then now is the perfect time to really think about how your website is looking and ultimately how it’s selling for you.
- Nurture your email list – send a message of reassurance to potential leads/bookings on your email list, you’re there should they have any questions for you during this time.
- Build your photography bank – build relationships with photographers during this time. Go through any previous weddings where you haven’t yet received images and reach out to the relevant photographer asking if they’re happy to share images with you for marketing purposes. We suggest politely reaching out to the couple for their consent too, however it is the photographer who holds the copyright. Ensure your crediting procedure is thorough so they know you will be sharing their work and crediting them correctly in the process.
Don’t cut your marketing budget
Lastly, a word on the marketing budget.
We have given all of our members a two month holiday on any renewals, so if you had a 12 month membership with us it’s now a 14 month month membership and we will review this in June. We felt this was important to support our venues through this immediate period as we all transition.
However, marketing is not an area to cut during a time of crisis.
It’s a normal reaction to look at what you’re currently spending, cutting any unnecessary costs and putting in place a financial plan to ensure you are able to survive and indeed thrive once this is all over. As a small company, we’ve gone through the same process to ensure we are one of the survivors. However cancelling all marketing activity such as Google Ads, Facebook ads and third party directory listings can actually leave you worse off and delay your recovery time once normal life resumes.
Some venues, your competitors, are not showing up. They are stopping their marketing activities, not renewing/investing and putting a pause on social media. They are curling up, hibernating and waiting for this to end.
Maintaining your normal level of marketing activity will help you to project strength, stability and resilience in the face of adversity and couples who are yet to book their wedding venue for 2021/22 will see this and will feel secure in their choice when they pick you.
If we remove a venue from our platform, we usually receive an email from a couple who have noticed – perhaps they were looking at your venue or maybe they’ve even booked you. But they will usually ask if there’s a reason why they are no longer listed with us. This shows the level of brand loyalty and trust couples have for third party platforms such as directories and blogs when piecing together their big day suppliers.
What I’m trying to say here is this – effective marketing requires repetition and long-term investment even in a recession or global crisis. The biggest way of being visible right now and being successful as we exit this period is to continue with your usual marketing plans and actually invest more time in nurturing those channels and relationships.