New Social Media Platform for WeddingsFriday, July 09, 2010
Wedobo first came on my radar last October and is a company I've had my eye on since. Wedobo is a social media platform that is similar in concept to Groupon (though conceived before Groupon came on the scene in late 2008 - proof that similar ideas come honestly), but with a focus on weddings.
They officially launched in May and I recently had the opportunity to chat with Amanda Sudimack, Wedobo's founder, about this new venture:
What inspired you to launch Wedobo?
The genesis of the idea started three years ago when I used Priceline to book a trip to London and find hotels there. I thought that this or something similar would be great to do for the wedding industry. I've been in the industry for over a decade as a wedding photographer, so I know the struggles as a vendor to book certain dates or get in front of potential brides. Plus, everyone loves a deal, no matter their budget.
I have about ten new business ideas a month and some don't stick. This one stuck with me and I started working on it and developing it.
In an industry that tends to be devalued by clients, what is the benefit for vendors to offer a product or service at less than full price?
We offer risk-free marketing to vendors. Our model is commission based, so we actually take all the risk off of the vendor. From an advertising perspective, it is beneficial because paid marketing provides no guarantees and is difficult to measure.
It's basically a win-win for the vendor. We are constantly putting them out there in front of our readers. Our deals are currently running for a week at a time, so every single day we're out there pitching them to our brides and planner networks.
What kind of vendors would you say Wedobo works best for?
Anyone who has some sort of upsell opportunity. We craft the deals around aspects of their goods and services that can be added on to, so the upsell component is a large part of it.
For example, we have hotels coming up that have reception venues. The deals will be for hotel rooms, but will also include added incentives for engaged couples: perhaps 10% off a wedding brunch package or rehearsal dinner space. This helps delete the risk and undervaluing.
We recently did a jewelry deal that was very successful. We also had a cake deal that was successful. The discount was for a groom's cake and the owner has already met with several of the new clients who have now ordered and paid in full for their primary weddings cakes as well. It's a way to get new people in the door balanced with the bride and groom still saving money on the deal, which is a win-win for both.
Tell me more about the planner networks you mentioned earlier.
We have an invitation-only program that wedding planners can join. By joining they have access to the deals 12 hours before they go live, so they can let their clients know about them ahead of time and look great in the process by saving them money. It's also great marketing exposure for planners because when we're crafting our releases, we'll include them in our marketing pieces. When you boil it down, it's all about exposure for them.
What is the average savings to a bride?
About 50%. We've had 40% or some as much as 80%, but generally it is around 50.
How do vendors get involved with Wedobo?
Right now, they can contact us or we contact them. We have an informal 15-20 minute phone conversation about the process and then we start production. We really try to understand the vendor's goals with running the deal and then make sure that the deal is also a good value for our bride.
We do target high quality deals and have a set of prerequisites on who we'll do deals with so that we're always presenting the best to our brides.
A wedding client is generally a one-time sale. How do you handle marketing to new brides all the time?
Being in the industry, I know firsthand that brides become a wedding business's best marketing tool because they all talk. We have a refer-a-friend program that encourages our brides to refer our site to others. We also have social media tools tied to each deal that allow brides to share that specific deal via their social networks. A big component of the planner and vendor network is having those programs eventually also yield more brides for us in the future. We plan on doing a lot of bridal events in the next year which include bridal shows, marketing events at venues, etc.
We are also set up in regional segments and have started in Chicago since that's where I'm from and have the strongest relationships with other vendors. As more brides start subscribing in more cities, we'll roll out the other markets. We currently have brides signing up all over the country and the major metropolitan cities. Some of the deals have been regional, but several have been applicable to anyone buying them, either by calling or purchasing online. Our goal is to make the Chicago market profitable, and then determine from there how quickly we move into the other markets.
What we're trying to do is different and new. Our ultimate goal is to build an online community where brides, planners and vendors all interact and benefit mutually. The benefits are different for everyone, but in the end, it's a positive online community for everybody.
Thanks, Amanda! You can learn more about Wedobo here and you can follow them on Twitter here.