I was sitting in a meeting with two local wedding vendors. One was a representative for a huge multi-million dollar corporation, the other a small business person like you. Before me was a color-coded spreadsheet, listing a dozen local and regional bridal shows that these vendors wanted to attend. They were asking for the financial support of the Visitor’s Bureau, where I serve as the Director of Interactive Marketing.
They presented the usual metrics: show attendance, booth cost and the average budget of the brides attending.
Still, I had so many questions:
- Why these bridal shows?
- Who was their target market?
- What did they expect the ROI/conversion rate to be on these shows?
- Did they have a lead generation program set up?
You see, as the Director of Interactive Marketing it is my job to show the return on every dollar I invest in marketing. So when locals come to me with opportunities to co-op and share the cost of campaigns, I’m thrilled, but that doesn’t mean I can throw best practices in campaign management out the window.
They claimed their target audience was luxury brides, but when they got into their strategies they proposed discounting Friday and Sunday to attract budget brides and opening venues on public land to help average brides save money.
I was so confused. Did they want to attract luxury brides or budget brides. Could they accommodate luxury brides? And if luxury brides tended to find their vendors through planners and not through bridal shows, why the hell were bridal shows a major part of the marketing mix?
After dancing around most of my questions, we finally got to the heart of their reasoning. One vendor looked me straight in the eye and said:
Listen, we spend tens of thousands of dollars on bridal shows and advertising in places like The Knot because our competitors are doing those things and we have to be able to compete.
I asked, “Well, are these strategies working for your competitors?”
“We don’t know”
I was shaken to the core that a huge business with a million dollar ad budget would spend so much money on marketing and advertising just because someone else was doing it.
I was reminded of when I was a girl, pleading with my mother to let me do something because “so-and-so” was doing it. My mother’s typical response: “If so-and-so jumped off a bridge, would you follow?”
Of course I wouldn’t ! I would never purposely injure myself or risk death just because someone else was doing it.
But here we were, sitting around a conference room table talking about doing just that with our businesses.
The fact is, just because you see someone else marketing in a certain way, advertising in a certain place, or developing a brand strategy in a particular way DOES NOT MEAN THAT IT’S WORKING FOR THEM!
And even if it IS working for them. There is no guarantee that it will work for you. Your business, clientele and brand promise may be completely different and require completely different strategies.
If you want to ensure your marketing dollars are well spent and working to generate more leads and book more brides, you have to do a bit of leg work.
Here are 3 Tips for Spending Your Marketing Dollars Wisely
Know who you’re trying to reach and where they hang out
The most important part of setting up any marketing plan or campaign is knowing who your target audience is. Most marketers create what’s called a marketing persona. You may have also heard it called your ideal customer avatar. I like to refer to it as your Ideal Bride Avatar. Check out these tips for developing your Ideal Bride Avatar.
Go Beyond What Your Competitors are Doing
Once you have your Ideal Bride Avatar worked out, identify where they are going to get information to plan their weddings. They may mostly use a paid planner. If that’s the case, your time and energy is best spent networking with local planners. If your target is likely to attend a trade show, go ahead and sign up for a that show. The bottom line is, your marketing decisions should come from your target market and not just from what your competitors are doing. Use your competitor’s behaviors as a jumping off point for your research, but use your Ideal Bride Avatar to make your final marketing decisions.
Set up clear and measurable goals and have a way of measuring success
When I asked one of the vendors what their goals were for the exhibiting at the bridal show, she said “brand awareness.” As an online marketing chick, this so-called goal drives me nuts. It’s not actually a goal. It’s a way to avoid taking responsibility for wasting marketing dollars!
When you have the opportunity for direct one-on-one connections with potential clients, you have an opportunity for craft a much better way of measuring ROI.
The very best way I’ve seen to capture leads from trade shows is through email marketing. Through email, you can continue the conversation with potential clients long after the show. And if you know how many of those leads will convert into paying clients, you can easily figure your ROI.
For example, say you are able to capture 500 email addresses at a trade show. Say for the sake of easy math, you know that approximately 1% of those emails will convert into paying clients. In other words you know that out of 500 emails captured, you can book 5 brides. If you are a photographer and the average package you sell is $4000, and you book 5 paying clients, thats a total of $20,000. Say you spend $5,000 on the booth fee, styling your booth, and the money spend on travel, hotels and meals. Your ROI is 1:3. Or for every $1 spent on bridal shows you make $3
If you don’t know what the ROI might be because you’ve never attended a show, you need to do some research. Start with the bridal show itself, ask if they have any ROI numbers. Ask them to break it down by field, if you can. In other words, what’s the ROI for other photographers, or planners. If the event planners don;t have those numbers (and most don’t) ask discussion boards and Facebook groups you may be a part of. Barring that, look up some attendees from past shows and email them directly, asking them what their ROI has been. Be sure that they have set up a reliable system for measuring ROI.
Take Action Now
Survey each of your marketing campaigns and ask yourself:
- Does this help me reach my Ideal Bride Avatar?
- Have I set up clear and measurable goals to determine if my marketing campaigns are working ?
If you answer no to either question for any of your campaigns, go back and make sure your campaigns reach your ideal bride and your have clear measurable goals so you can monitor the success of each campaign.
Download my FREE Marketing ROI Roadmap for Wedding Professionals
- Set up campaigns that make you competitive in a saturated market.
- Identify which promotions actually work and which ones are a waste of time and money.
- Monitor, optimize and measure your campaigns so you can start booking more of your ideal brides.