by Bethel Nathan | Advice, Business Management, Business Systems, Customer Journey, Ideal Client, Marketing Tools, Reviews & Reputation, Social Media
WeddingWire’s 2019 Newlywed Report – which is the result of surveying over 18,000 couples who were married in 2018 – showed that couple are continuing to get married later in life, and the average from those couples was 33. Meanwhile, the US Census Bureau’s statistics for 2017 show the average in the US as 27.4 for women and 29.5 for men, also increasing every year.
Whether your couples might be the same or different might depend somewhat on where in the country you are, and whether your couples tend to be more or less traditional (and therefore getting married earlier or later in life). However, it still means that the large majority of our couples are now those who are in the middle to younger side of Millennials, and we are starting to see Gen Z couples too (born in 1997 or later). As a result, there are many things that we need to think about differently in our business.
One core characteristic about these couples that needs focusing on is a shorter attention span. Studies show a 12-second attention span from Millennials, and an even shorter 8-second attention span from Gen Z. What do we do with that in our business? I’ll break it down into suggestions for Marketing and for your Customer Journey, as how you communicate with both your booked couples and potential couples is definitely shifting.
- Messaging delivered in smaller pieces, making each one easier to digest.
- Use different media – think about using a combination of text, images, and video.
- Remember that images can “say it” even better than text – they’re processed 60,000x faster than text!
- Text: Think about using bullets or short paragraphs, and then have more details below or link elsewhere to more.
- Be sure that your most important or attractive messaging is shown first.
- Use a mixture of your words and your couples’ words. Using snippets from your reviews not only illustrates your value in their words, but they also help change up the flow from being all in your words.
- On your website, be mobile-focused: 80% of users leave from a bad mobile experience, which includes the function of your site as well as the content. Your site must load quickly – 40% will leave if not within three seconds.
- Have consistent and repetitive messaging (in addition to colors, logo, and imagery) across all marketing channels, so that no matter where they see you, as they move around from site to site while doing their research, it all feels like you.
- Show them only what makes sense for them. Therefore, if you have different offerings with different ideal couples, having multiple brands/businesses with different websites may make more sense than combining it all into one, as then they are more likely to see the information most relevant to their needs and stick around for more.
- Make it easy for them to contact you and to find your social media and reviews.
- Break your longer emails into multiple shorter ones and then space them out. This way they hear from you more frequently, and they can absorb your messages better.
- Put the most important info first, so that they are more likely to see it, especially when opening your emails on their phone. Same goes with the most critical question you need answered.
- Text in bullets or short paragraphs then more details below or link elsewhere to more (maybe even a hidden page on your website with just the information for this frequently asked question/issue).
- Questions: If you need to get multiple questions answered, as most of us do, make an online questionnaire (whether in your business management system or a standalone app like Typeform or Google Forms), and then email them the link and instructions (always explain the WHY of something you’re asking your couples to do for you)l.
- Consider filming short videos in place of some longer emails, especially if there are instructions you have to typically give. Or you can use video as a fun addition to your communication plan, including as an in-between communication.
- Meetings: First of all, re-evaluate if they all need to be done in-person, or if you can offer virtual options to save everyone time and effort, plus to make your customer journey consistent for your out-of-town couples too. Communicate before and after your meetings. Before to set expectations and talk about any prep work needed. After to talk about next steps. Both of these communications often result in shorter meetings and being seen as respectful of their time and attention.
I hope that this gives you lots of actionable ideas of changes or improvements that you can make to your marketing and your customer journey! As always, if I can help, please let me know.
by Bethel Nathan | Advice, Business Management, Business Systems, Customer Journey, Ideal Client, Marketing Tools, Reviews & Reputation, Social Media, Systems & Apps
I talk to my coaching clients and industry colleagues about reviews a great deal. Why? Because the words of those who have used your services or product – talking about the value or the results or what it was like to work with you (or all of the above) – can be so much more powerful than anything you could say about yourself! And, since they are coming from the perspective of someone likely similar to the couples checking you out now, they are usually speaking in a language that fits that potential new couple, too.
So, now what?
First, be sure that you’re getting new reviews from your past clients, and regularly. Recency is just as important as quantity. After all, if you were checking out reviews of a restaurant or hotel, for instance, as you planned a night out or an upcoming trip, and you saw none from the past year, wouldn’t you wonder about that place? Are they still in business? Has their quality fallen dramatically? Plus, if you’ve been in business for a while, you have likely seen your couples change over the years, maybe in what they are looking for, their priorities, or how they express it. So, having recent couples talking about you do matters. And, yes, quantity does sure help too, not only in qualifying you for industry awards like The Knot’s “Best of Weddings” and WeddingWire’s “Couples Choice”, but in building confidence in those reading them that those many reviews they see are real and not just a handful of your friends and family members who did you a favor and wrote some for you.
How do you do this? ASK! I know that that sounds simple, and yet many people I’ve worked with over the years don’t have a process to do just that. I greatly recommend adding an email into your workflow to ask your couples to write you a review, with links directly to the places you want reviews (except for Yelp, who doesn’t like seeing businesses solicit reviews, so include it in your list, but don’t give a direct link). And usually about 2-3 weeks after your work with them is done (I know that some of us deliver our work before the wedding, others of us do so on the wedding day, and others aren’t done until well after the wedding). I used to send it in my “thank you” email the day after the wedding, but I’m finding that I’m getting more now that I wait about 2-3 weeks. Couples for whom you exceeded their expectations, and gave them a great customer experience as well as end-product, likely want to say thanks and help you as well – this gives them the chance to do so! If you haven’t been doing this, you can absolutely do a catch-up now, emailing all of your couples from the past 6-12 months, and I highly recommend it.
Then, what do you do with them? This is where the superpower of reviews comes in. You want to use them everywhere! Wait, what? Especially if coming from a past client that you would consider an ideal couple (as that helps you attract more like them), and if it is expressing something that you want others to hear or know. So, yes, use snippets on every page of your website, in your marketing materials, in your online listings, and in any place that you are communicating with couples, like your email signature and even in your verbal “elevator” pitch at wedding shows. Use full screenshots on your social media (as it gives more legitimacy to see the full and unedited verbiage) – this gives you fresh content for social media, plus allows them to be seen by more people.
Let me add a note on using their words on your website. The days of a single “testimonial” page being of the most value are behind us, and instead you want to weave your couples’ words all throughout your verbiage throughout your website. Use what they say to illustrate or to emphasize things you want to say, as their perspective can often help you to do so.
Also, don’t forget to respond to them! I always email my couples to thank them for writing one, letting them know how much I appreciate that they took the time to do so, and that I absolutely loved hearing what they had to say. And this is important, I think, for continuing the positive feelings in your customer experience with them. But you also need to respond publicly, right on the review website, as those responses are for future couples reading your reviews. Be positive, be thankful, and be you. This is one more place for your personality and your connection with your couples to be seen, so don’t pass up the opportunity to do so. But always remember that the target audience for your response is those reading it as they research you for themselves – whether it was a raving review, good review, or maybe a not-so-great or quite bad review, the response is really meant for future couples (or fellow vendors) who don’t yet know you.
Please be sure to fully read your reviews to be sure that you are making any changes in your business that comes up as an issue. One not-so-great review definitely requires a personal response, but probably doesn’t require a business change. But, multiple of not-so-great (or quite bad) reviews definitely do. So, read them looking for a pattern – whether it was your communication or professionalism or end-product – and improve accordingly.
On the flip side, if there’s something that couples are consistently mentioning as something they loved or particularly appreciate about you or your process or your end-product, can you do even more of that or make it even better, or talk about it more as a selling point? Our businesses should be in a state of constant improvement, as the wedding market and couples are constantly changing. Improving even what you are doing well and what couples love will help keep you ahead of the curve!
Embrace the power of reviews, and the “social proof” that they provide, and see what they bring to your future business!
If I can help you figure out how to best use reviews in your business, or help you narrow down what messaging to use, drop me an email below and let’s chat!
by Bethel Nathan | Advice, Business Management, Business Systems, Customer Journey, Reviews & Reputation, Social Media, Systems & Apps
For wedding professionals, the importance of having recent and great reviews cannot be overstated. I know some of you get it – and I know some of you say that you get it – but the real questions are: do you have a plan in place to get reviews from as many couples as possible, and do you have a plan in place to use the reviews you get to increase leads/bookings?
As service focused businesses whose main mission is to rock some part of a couple’s one and only wedding day, what previous couples have to say about us and what we did for them can make a huge difference to potential couples. Doesn’t matter whether you are a planner, officiant, photographer, DJ, florist, baker or candlestick maker – it is highly likely that your reviews, or lack thereof, will factor into a couple’s decision on whether or not to hire you. They may get a referral from a past couple or another vendor, but this generation wants to get validation from multiple sources and ones that they consider unbiased or less biased, including reviews from past couples. It’s called “social proof.”
Here are some quick tips in regards to reviews:
1) Ask in your after-service thank you e-mail (you do send one of those, right?) if they could please write you a review. Explain why you are asking and give them a link to where they can review you… make it easy.
2) If a couple inquiries through your website, make sure in your response to link them to where they can read your reviews… again, make it easy.
3) When you get a great review, share it on social media.
4) Use the good stuff – the words your couples are saying about you in their reviews – in your marketing and messaging.
5) Use the bad stuff your couples are saying about you in their reviews to improve your systems and processes. Yes, actually pay attention to the bad stuff, especially if it comes up more than once.
Think about the cost of reviews (just a bit of time) vs. their value (unbiased praise for your business and unbiased free business evaluation). And if you don’t have a reviews plan in place, create and implement one today!