I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute again to the April edition of the Wedding Business Magazine. The topic for this issue is the Customer Experience. You only have one chance to make a first impression. The first time a potential client interacts with your brand it needs to speak to them. This first touch point could be through an email newsletter, on social media, over the phone, through your website or face to face. Whatever it is you need to have thought about the experience you want your client to have from the first moment they virtually meet you.
Telling bedtime love stories by Sam Lloyd, The Wedding Owl
It’s not a yarn, to say that engaged couples, looking for the perfect venue, like a good story with a happy ending. They like seeing pictures shared by guests on wedding days, reading photographers’ blogs and hearing about a good wedding at a popular wedding venue. If they are going to ‘stalk’ a venue, an expression I often hear couples use now, it is ideally located, near to where they live or by one or both of their parents homes, and even though “everyone or someone they know has got married there”, they will still add it to their list of venues to view, as they are reassured the venue will deliver their wedding. Why? Because it resonates with them. They are not looking for something new. The truth is they are looking for a venue that has the right narrative, that is a good fit, where they can confidently write their own love story on those same stairs, sat at that same top table or dancing on that same dance floor.
Important and well-known factors in deciding on a wedding venue, include; its location, its friendly staff (both in person and through reviews), its price, and its picturesque grounds and/or views, for those all-important photos. So when I’m working with venue owners who have not yet established theirs as the ‘local go-to venue’, I start by analysing their website narrative, their marketing collateral, listening to how they give show arounds, reading their reviews and feedback from booked couples (but just as importantly, the ones who didn’t book), to identify what ingredients are missing in their storytelling, that are perhaps blocking sales. My aim is to identify what could elevate their business.
My second stage is research. I look at the local competition to try to identify what strengths and weaknesses the rival venues have. Then I look at the history of the client’s venue. This might include the story of the building, who lived, worked and visited there and if the business has been trading for a while, who has got married there (and they don’t have to be famous). Eventually, I will tease out a love story that is unique to that venue that, ideally, emphasises the positives the other venues are unable to deliver.
Then, to engage with couples, my final stage is to retell the venue’s story, and just like any good bedtime read, it must:
- take couples on an emotional journey, but it must be authentic, true, factual, personal, creative and inspiring
- be memorable (as couples are going to look online at lots of venues before making, on average, only 5.7% enquiries of those venues)
- illustrate what the venue stands for and so resonate with couples. This is especially necessary to compete in the noise of the digital marketplace, bearing in mind that the most popular time for wedding planning is after work and in the evening (63% of couples use this time to do their research and plan their wedding)
- provide the tools and backdrop to enable couples to deliver their perfect wedding
- include recommendations, as couples rank endorsements from friends and family as the most valuable source of recommendation (71%)
- have good reviews and testimonials from suppliers, not only on social media but in articles, both online and in the press – as couples love reading about other clients’ experiences as it builds their confidence.
The goal of marketing is to inspire, whether it motivates change, encourages the buying of a product, service or draws people into your venue. The venue owner’s desired outcome, or investment, in the end, drives the direction of the story. But if a venue tells a good, true, honest story, it can lead to bookings and so can improve revenue as couples’ feel an emotional tie.
You can incorporate storytelling into your business in many ways, but you need a sweet spot, where the couples needs are met by your product or service. Then suddenly, they yearn to be part of your experience or to show off your product to others. All your marketing material needs to tell the same story – this includes your website, blogs, social media posts etc. However, each requires a different approach, as the key to successful storytelling is knowing which aspect of your story to share on each channel, each requires consideration – your marketing strategy.
To be a good storyteller, you need to listen to your audience, so you can understand their values and beliefs and you must be prepared to rewrite your script when your situation or trends change, that way you will ensure a true and lasting romance.
Stats with the kind permission of The UK Wedding Report 2018
Download Your Copy of the April 2018 Issue Here (https://issuu.com/weddingtrendreport/docs/wedbizmag_april_2018)