Marketing to Wedding Planners
When should you start marketing to wedding planners?
I must admit that I have been hesitant about writing this post the whole subject of marketing to wedding planners. I am trying to focus more on attracting my ideal client and focusing more of blog posts of content for brides. Yet I am a little frustrated that there is no information on marketing out there. Especially, for new wedding stationery designers. Hardly any. It is very thin on the ground.
I guess a lot of stationery designers are very guarded with this knowledge and even some paid courses that I have done in the past, have not spoken really in depth on this subject.
Lack of information on marketing
I have had so many budding stationers designers, find my first mammoth, mega article of Diving into a Wedding Stationery Business, actually reach out and thank me. They either get in touch via my Instagram, drop a message on the blogpost, or directly email me. I wrote that article partly from frustration. There really was nothing concrete that I could find. A few light pieces. I was contemplating starting a wedding invitation business. Yet when I searched on Google, I could hardly find anything substantial. 5 quick tips this…. 10 top tips blah blah… Which really wasn’t thorough enough.
At each stage on my business, I’m three years in at this point (and that is all thanks to the sheer support of my husband and not having to rely on my business for a regular income).
At each stage of my business, the first year, second and third I have always had questions.
I certainly didn’t have the money at those times of needing advice to hire a mentor or a business coach. I had to push forward and find out what work, or find the way myself.
How do I go about marketing?
Questions about how do I market. Eagerly hunting any relevant information on how I should go about marketing to wedding planners. When is the right time to approach wedding planners? Is it worth building a relationship with them? Should I just rely on my Instagram instead and not bother?
Why marketing to wedding planners took me so long
I have been extremely hesitant to approach wedding planners for a very long time. It’s a long story! Partly inside me I am such a perfectionist. I know. Everyone says done is better than perfect. That ‘s a hard one for me to swallow. It must be the artist inside me. I find it hard to bear – to show someone my work when it is not as good as it could be.
Alongside that I have not been ready within myself. I still look through my designs and feel as though I want to throw half of them away and completely revamp my Portfolio.
So I really held off for quite a long time. I did not email planners. I didn’t feel as though my work was ready or at the right quality. Desperately, I yearned for more smaller clients so that I could hone my skills.
Experience. More confidence and development in my artistic skills.
I met one of my stylist heroines which was a huge confidence boost
SLIGHT TANGENT—-Last summer, it was so wonderful that Cristina and her husband Francis (below) invited me to come and meet them at their wedding venue, Aqueduto Events in Porto, Portugal. It was such a huge boost for me. at this time we lived in Saudi Arabia. Which was wonderful but I felt so incredibly isolated. I had grown apart from my friends and hardly met any wedding creatives. This was the first time I actually met people in real life.
Cristina is as high calibre as they come. She works with tops brands and high end weddings, so to meet her and be able to shoot my promotional video at her venue was a huge boost in confidence for me. She makes all of her own wedding stationery though so I would never suggest my items to her, it was overstepping the line. But it was such a pleasure to meet her and other creatives.
All Photography above by Auras Studios
Curate your instagram
Instead, carefully I have curated my Instagram. It has taken me three years to curate the best of my work and build that as a Portfolio. That is really what I focused on to build my image. I do think Instagram is essential to have. It’s a presence that speaks volumes to potential clients and wedding planners. I can see that IG has become a real force and source of credibility.
I had reached out to a couple of wedding planners.
In fact, instagram held so much credibility (you can see my account below) that something amazing happened. I had reached out to Sarah Haywood weddings in London. I had been following her and her assistant from London, Charlotte for a few months. They saw that I had potential.
What happened when a high end wedding planner noticed me.
Sarah Haywood deals with elite, high budget weddings.
She followed my account.!!! That was quite a moment for me. It was a jumping on the bed – EUREKA kind of moment. She thought that I was good enough to follow back? ME? I did have to pinch myself when she later asked me to come down and visit her. I could not at the time. She asked me to bring my portfolio over and to come and meet her. I HAD NO PHYSICAL PORTFOLIO!!!
I had been frantically designing for editorials and had sent everything out abroad. There are not many style shoot / editorial teams that sent my work back. There was nothing I could show her that would be worth it. My portfolio was only in existence online!
Not ready for her request
Shockingly, she later emailed me to possibly work with her on a custom design for a client. Goodness I was so out of my league. Here I was honoured and blown away that someone of her calibre contacted me! Secondly, I had no idea how to execute. The standard of product that she requested was beyond me. Laser etching calligraphy onto a white carrera tile and filling it in with gold!!! To be presented in a box!!!
I was way out of my depth. She picked up on that.
I have since tried to arranged to meet her again, but our times were conflicting with her appointments. Or perhaps she was very kindly putting me off. I do feel very sad about that major missed opportunity. Nonetheless, I know that I have to crawl before I can walk. To walk before I can run. I’m in this for the long haul. Everything has its appointed time. Timing. Reasons. Opportunities to dream bigger. The universe showing me what’s possible. But all in my own good time.
Overtime I have hit some very low periods.
Yes I have been very depressed and almost gave up several times. Last November, 2018 I hit a particularly low period. I had my last client in February. I had zero paying clients and hardly any enquiries from February through to August and then nothing. When November arrived, I was focusing so much on all the negatives and what I didn’t have that I had landed in a very dark place.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that year 2018, I needed to have no clients. I was doing constant style shoots and editorials. It was free work and that really was getting to me and hurting, especially the shipping costs. What I didn’t know was that, those editorials were essential for later on. I needed all of that content. To repurpose it. A better website presence. To develop a marketing strategy. Content strategy. But that is another conversation for another day!
Focusing too much on instagram and not reaching out enough to wedding planners
Continuing on, about this time (during 2018) I was too engrained and obsessed with my Instagram. How many likes do I have? I attempted to promote my pins often( after which nothing happened by the way). I tested the pins with the most likes and promoted them in New York, Houston. Nothing. Zero results. One or two more followers – which ok, is great to make an impactful impression when someone sees my follower count. Yet no sales. so what’s the point! I came to realise that Instagram is a very social platform.
It’s a marathon not a sprint
Business is a very, very slow burn long term investment.
Now I see Instagram more as an online business card. It’s a community full of wonderful friendships and online networking. I have forged many friendships and met many people because of that platform. I am so very grateful for the opportunities it has bought my way.
Instagram’s Algorithm Change was a wake up call
The compliments about my work there have been unreal. However, I just have not garnered the amount of traction in my business as I would like. I felt a sharp fall in views with new algorithms and to me I can already see that things are not going to improve. Alongside this, the period of not having enough clients and the steep drop in Instagram’s reach brought home something to me. Wedding planners. My marketing efforts had to be built up considerably to attract more direct clients. I needed an additional revenue source.
Photography by Auras Studios
Wedding planners have larger budgets
Middle to upper end planners, not the cheap wedding planners have brides/ weddings with larger budgets. They have to have those large budgets to even afford a certain level of planner. I began to do my research and discovered that some planners had budgets of anywhere from $40-150,000+.
Following on, this video brought home so many things to me. It was a great reminder that I shouldn’t expect results overnight. I had. I expected far too much, too early. That was my mistake. It was startling to me to know that as a wedding photographer he had to invest in his business year on year for up to 5-7 years before he was profitable.
Key Takeaway From the Above Video
Greg had one key point.
Direct clients are clients once. They come in, order something and that’s it.
Yet if you take the time to build relationships with wedding planners they can potentially give you reoccurring revenue. First of all they will test you. If you hit it off and you can manage to serve them, over deliver and be really, really helpful they will remember that. Building relationships is not an overnight thing. It takes time. You need to show a genuine interest in them. Comment on their Instagram posts as often as possible, but not too much. There’s nothing as bad as over kill.
When they share anything on their Instagram stories, comment on it every now and then. I’d say once every 2-3 weeks is great for a direct DM, but don’t overdo it. They could end up blocking you. Try to build a genuine relationship.
What you should never do in the way you approach wedding planners
Continuing on, I say this because I have made these mistakes.
Don’t mass email wedding planners. Avoid emailing them UNTIL you have built up a relationship on Instagram. Then after say 8 months to a year, get in touch via email and include some links to some of your best work and a few of your style shoots / editorial features. They need to know that you have been published, you have credibility and have worked with other vendors.
I actually held off from emailing wedding planners who I regularly chat with in London on Instagram. A few of them have reached out to me and requested that I send some of my samples out to them. So it works better when it comes from them, after you have built up a relationship.
I have heard some planners say that a good way to get on their radar is to send gifts along with your stationery samples. The gifts that you send should be meaningful and quality gifts. While for many planners on podcasts I have heard that they will throw the stationery out, because they get so many samples from stationery designers. Some prefer gifts over stationery. If you follow them for a while on social media, you will get a good idea and perhaps a good hit to what they like.
Don’t forget to follow up
On a recent instagram live video with BlueBird Productions wedding planner, Virginia she spoke about that first point of contact.
Gifts are a first step. So many people send something to me and then I never hear from them again. You must follow through.
I was quite startled to hear that. It was eye opening to me to hear. I thought it would be spammy and a bit too pushy to contact a wedding planner after sending a gift their way. Apparently not! She emphasised that sending gift, or a pack of stationery is a first point of contact. A way to get your foot in the door and make a planner aware of you. You have to continue that relationship and try to develop it.
How can you develop a relationship with a wedding planner further?
First of all go in asking them if there is anything you can do for them, or any value that you can offer them. Yes, work for free if you must. Offer them something for free, complimentary, or help them with anything they might need. You need to offer that value first before they think of coming to you. They need to experience what it is like to work with you before they refer you.
If they do hire you, don’t have an attitude, don’t be a diva. Even if you are very good at what you do, a wedding planner has to deal with so much stress and manage so many wedding vendors, she doesn’t need any extra stress. Try to be as helpful as possible. Make yourself indispensable to them. So much so that they only want to work for you and no-one else.
Believe me, it is not easy to do. I am learning this myself!
Action steps to take:
- Create and design your instagram to only show your very best images. No rubbish.
Only your absolute best work and best photographs.
- In addition, when your IG has reached a good stage, maybe you should hold off 1-2 years until you have really hone you IG – THEN reach out, follow the wedding planners that match your branding level and match your client.
- Curate a beautiful, beautiful portfolio.
- Really hone your Portfolio until people start to take you seriously. Below are some photographs that I took of my work on my iphone and photos of the same collection taken by a professional photographer from an editorial I worked on. Professional images raise your profile and elevate your business’s branding.
- Take part in style shoots with other wedding vendors in the same position as you to be able to have the right types of images. These images will help your marketing images for your IG or website pages. I have visited some of the wedding stationery designers and calligraphers websites and Instagram accounts. Many of them have the most beautiful images on their websites. But they don’t make use of them. You should be posting these images on your Instagram account and Instagram stories as well as Pinterest.
- Curate a website that is perfect and shows your best work only – I am still working on this one!
- Get started with wedding planners. Build relationships. Connect. Chat.
- If you want to serve and work with higher level wedding planners, don’t show rubbish images on your website / social media accounts. If you show some low quality flowers and cheap weddings you will hardly have a higher level wedding planner be attracted by that.
Look into Pinterest and get yourself on a really good course.
Get serious with blogging and Pinterest.
Pinterest is a big big big one.
This past few months I have got serious about Pinterest. Looking at Pinterest from the outside it does look rubbish. Yet after signing up on a serious Pinterest course, my eyes have been opened. At the moment my two main sources of traffic come NOT FROM INSTAGRAM, but from Pinterest and Google. Have a look at my Google Analytics from below. I have been blogging on and off for sometime now to optimise my website with seo and really go for it with my content. Google does send me a lot of traffic but I am now starting to really up my game with Pinterest.
As you can see from above, Google by far send me the most traffic. Bearing in mind that I have only just started recently with Pinterest, it is quite outstanding the huge amount of traffic that I get directly to my website from Pinterest.
I hope that I eventually can make good use of this traffic and manage to attract clients. Which really is my end goal. Who knows? I hope it works. I will surely update this blog, or write another one and let you know how it goes.
Last but not least getting referrals from wedding vendors
I have heard so so many other wedding invitation designers say that other wedding vendors that they worked with referred jobs to them. Believe me, I am not nasty in anyway, and really do try to be as lovely as possible. Nonetheless, I have never been referred by any other vendors to work with them on weddings. Perhaps this is because I work remotely and haven’t met people in person enough.
Bit of a Game of Thrones moment
Right, I must admit. After putting so much of myself into the heart of this article, I am going to have a Game of Thrones moment here and end it badly right here. I had to say that! Partly because I’m not really sure how to end this epic article. I hope that you learnt some great tips and advice on how to approach wedding planners and some marketing insight. Unfortunately, I spoke of my experience a bit too much! Hope that you manage to gain some value.
That’s all I have to add for now.
If you have anything else you would like to ask about marketing, or suggest what worked for you, please do so in the comment section.
I read every comment and I reply to every comment via email.
Please feel free to follow me on Pinterest here.
Perhaps yous’d like to read where I take ideas for my designs from? Read here.
If you’d like to see the process of how I design custom stationery you might like these posts:
If you’d like to get in touch reach out and contact me here, or email me at email@example.com.