Selling to Millennials

How To Get More Wedding Inquiries

5 Website Changes You Can Make Today

Wedding welcome party photo by    Cameron Clark

Wedding welcome party photo by Cameron Clark


If you’re a wedding entrepreneur, here are four changes you can make to your company’s website that will help you get more inquiries.


1. Create one clear call to action throughout your site.

Not three, not five, not eight. One.

If you're a service-based wedding professional, the point of your website is to get potential clients to contact you so that you can start a conversation. It is not to convince them of everything they need to know.

We like to think that people click through our sites in the way that we've laid them out, that they’ll go through all our galleries, or swipe through our 10 favorite things, or that they'll complete the fun Buzzfeed-style quiz on the wedding colors that best match their personality, but they don't.

The majority won't even land your home page, they'll land on whichever page on your site best matched their Google search term.

Make sure whichever page they land on is clear about what step you want them to ultimately take. That ultimate step should be contacting you.


2. Delete all industry jargon from your website's copy.

You may hate the term "vendor" or "supplier” (and with good reason), but a potential client who has no experience with the wedding industry will assume the term "creative partner" refers to your business partner or your life partner. They have no idea that you're referring to wedding professionals from other companies.

If this is the battle you want to pick, that’s your choice, but educating a client on how much weddings actually cost may be a better issue to focus on than making sure they get their vocabulary straight, especially since wedding spending is down and the DOW dropped 800 points earlier this month after “the bond market flashed a warning sign about a possible recession for the first time since 2007.”


3. Make your website’s copy inclusive.

Love is love, and it’s important that your site’s copy doesn’t unintentionally alienate people based on who they’re marrying.

Instead of writing the singular “bride and groom” (assumes the partnership includes one of each), you can use :

  • “bride or groom” (“Our services are designed to take all the stress off the bride or groom’s plate.”)

  • the plural: “brides or grooms”/”brides and grooms” (“I love seeing the faces of our brides and grooms when they see the beautifully designed ballroom for the first time.”)

  • couple/couples (“The couples we work with tend to be fun and down-to-earth while still appreciating the finer things in life.”)

On your contact form, if you need the second person’s name, simply use “Your Name” and “Partner’s Name” instead of bride/groom’s name for those fields.


4. Having a blog on your website is still the best SEO method. Period.

If you're not getting found online, blogging is the easiest and quickest fix.

If you have a blog but it's hosted elsewhere (Medium, Tumblr, Blogspot, etc), transfer it to your site. The best method is to host it as a folder (website.com/blog) and the second best is as a subdomain (blog.website.com).

I've written 2 million+ words on my wedding business blog over the years. I am not a blogger. It is not sponsored, ad supported, or affiliate-monetized. But it has landed me some of my biggest clients because it ensures I turn up on the first page for whatever they're looking for. Plus it shows that my expertise runs deep and I know what I'm talking about.

2 million+ additional words on my site for Google to crawl.

You know how many words my competitors have on their sites? Not 2 million. Not even close.

How many words does yours have? How many do your competitors have?

If you write paragraphs as Instagram captions (which do NOT help your SEO because they're coded as no-follow links), you can reprioritize to schedule some blog posts as well. Make the brand house you rent work for you (Instagram), but build equity in the brand house you own (your website and blog).

Also, "engagement season" in the United States starts at Thanksgiving (late November) and goes until Valentine's Day. If you want a potential bride or groom to find you once the question is popped and a ring is on their finger, start updating your site and blog now so that Google has time to index everything.


5. General web UX (short for "user experience") wisdom is that your contact form should be short and sweet.

By short, I mean three fields or less. Even bumping up to just four fields can reduce the number of people who fill out the form and click "submit" by over 50%. That measly extra field can cut your inquiries in HALF!

  • Unless you're a high-volume venue, you probably don't need their wedding date before you talk to them.

  • You don’t need to know up front where a potential client first heard of you, plus whatever they fill in on your contact form is probably wrong. They'll write Instagram because that was their last click when in reality they first saw you mentioned in a print issue of WedLuxe magazine, googled your company on their phone, clicked on a Pinterest result, clicked on a photo to a real wedding you had published on Over the Moon, clicked to your Instagram, then after scrolling for a while, clicked to your website.

  • A couple at the beginning of their wedding planning process likely does not know their real wedding budget yet. If they're having a luxury wedding, they may even assume that their budget will be around $50,000-$60,000 (they’ve heard the US national average is around $30k, so they figure doubling that number is a safe bet). Filtering them out by budget on your contact form is a sure-fire way to lose amazing clients who are happy to pay your rate once they've been educated on real costs and have been guided past sticker shock.

The above information is useful, but asking these questions can wait until your first conversation after you’ve gotten the inquiry.

That said, in some cases you can get away with more form fields without hurting your visitor-to-inquiry conversion rate, which can be helpful in certain circumstances. The catch with this is that the form fields have to be valuable to the potential client, not only to you.

For example, Millennials and Gen Z (aged 40 and younger) are famously guarded when it comes to giving out their personal cell phone numbers. This can be mystifying for people who grew up primarily sharing a landline with their family members.

Even so, it can be very helpful for you to get their phone number up front. If you opt to do this, one way to increase the chances that they complete your contact form is to include a field that asks how they prefer you contact them (by email, by phone, by text/WhatsApp, by Facetime).

A doctor or a teacher is unlikely to be able to take an unsolicited phone call and doesn't necessarily want non-urgent texts showing up on their Apple Watch. People working in an open-plan office where personal calls are frowned upon or personal email sites are blocked can often return a quick text without interrupting their workflow. If your destination wedding client lives outside the US, WhatsApp is likely king. Gen Zers are known for their love of FaceTime because – despite the anti-social label they’ve wrongly been given – they highly value face-to-face connection, even if it can’t be in person.

If you want clients from a younger generation to hand over their phone number on the initial inquiry form, make sure you give them the power to tell you how to use it, and then respect those boundaries.

The Biggest Myth About Luxury Clients

A couple of years ago I was quoted in an article in the Tennessean on how "millennials are driving a dramatic change in the food economy." In the piece, the author also shares that Costco is now the number one seller of organic produce in the United States, beating out Whole Foods.

This isn't exactly surprising since:

  1. Costco is more ubiquitous than Whole Foods, and

  2. the average household income of a Costco member is $100,000+.

This is a good reminder for people who sell luxury goods and services in any industry: luxury consumers rarely buy luxury in every category across the board.

Believing that luxury consumers buy luxury all the time is the number one myth I see my clients and others working in the high-end of the wedding industry buy into. Their thought process tends to be that if a person is wealthy, they'll spend a high dollar amount on everything. This simply isn't true, and embracing this fact can help you understand your clients better and sell more effectively.

Wealthy people often stay wealthy because they're smart with their money. They will spend more on what they value, but they are often not into spending just because the price tag is high.

Costco markets to a higher-end demographic because people with higher incomes like to save money. Similarly, Ann Taylor has consistently outperformed among high net-worth shoppers over the past several years. Ann Taylor. Not exactly the first brand that comes to mind when you think of luxury fashion. And yet, these high net-worth women will often pair their Ann Taylor dress with Prada heels and a Balenciaga handbag.

A bride or groom hiring a luxury wedding planner may not see the value in having a high-end cake designer, and vice versa. Value is personal to each client, and part of the initial meeting is sussing out the priorities each couple has.

You can be expensive, and people will pay you handsomely, as long as you're showing the value of what you bring to the table. What you bring to the table goes beyond your portfolio: stylish, beautiful work is now the bare minimum standard, not a competitive advantage. (Don't believe me? Scroll through any wedding hashtag on Instagram. Gorgeous work for days.) If you weren't talented, the potential clients you meet with wouldn't have reached out to you in the first place.

Dig deeper than talent and price, and focus on selling that. In the luxury end of the market this is more important than ever.
 


Originally published August 2016

Millennials as Clients and Competitors

For Generation X, hiring a wedding planner or a team of wedding professionals wasn't just about being too busy to spare the 250 plus hours it takes to plan a wedding. It was more deeply engrained psychologically: Gen X values personal success and personal achievement. The U.S. Army recruiting slogan for Gen X was, "Be All That You Can Be," putting the emphasis on personal achievement – fighting through the limitations of your mind and body and coming out the winner. This focus on the strength and importance of the individual is partly why Generation X was also dubbed, "The Me Generation."

And so, when marketing to Gen X, selling wedding services tapped into that line of thinking. You are too busy and too important to plan your wedding yourself because you are SO successful. You have reached a level of success where you can delegate not just because you literally don't have the time to do it yourself, but also because the ability and resources to delegate is a status symbol of the level of personal achievement you've reached. Well done, you. Hire us and we'll handle it all – you won't have to think about a thing.

Ten years ago in 2007, millennials became the majority bridal consumer. Yet mainstream wedding marketing still has largely not changed. The focus is still on the values that Gen X hold, and that the majority of millennials do not relate to. Wedding professionals then blame social media for not working, or they blame magazine ads for not working, or they blame bridal shows for not working. The fact of the matter is that they're pushing outdated messaging through those various channels and that is what is not working. The problem is not the platform, the problem is the way the platform is being used and the lack of understanding of the person on the other end.

When it comes to the millennial generation, the U.S. Army's recruiting strategy is very different. Their slogan is now, "Army Strong." The emphasis is on community, teamwork, and being in it together. For millennials, success isn't as sweet if it doesn't include everyone in the group. Millennials truly believe that they are better together and stronger together than they are as individuals. This mindset is why they are also known as "Generation We." When it comes to weddings, they value the input of everyone in their social circle, including not only their wedding party, but family, close friends, and friends they haven't seen in a while but keep in touch with via Snapchat and WhatsApp.

It's important to note here that both sets of values have their merits and one isn't better than the other. However, if you are a Boomer or Gen X selling to a millennial, trying to get potential clients to buy into your set of values is a losing battle. If a millennial client is sitting in your studio and you need a decision right then and they can't reach friends or family via text or Facebook Messenger in that amount of time, they will either postpone the decision until they can get group feedback or second guess their decision until long after their wedding day. Even if the decision turned out to be a great one, the discomfort they feel from having to decide without peer feedback is going to sour the overall feeling of the experience they had working with you.

The generational issue is tough for millennial business owners as well. Right now, they are faced with two choices: do things in a new and different way that makes sense to them and face the fact that it will likely be misunderstood by their older colleagues, or model their businesses and marketing on a value system that neither they nor their clients share because that is the "norm" and the way "it's always been done" and ensures an invitation into the "wedding clique" in their area. Not being accepted by your peers because you don't do things the way they do is a bitter pill to swallow, particularly for millennials who value peer approval.

This is already causing friction in the industry. In every single city I visit, the conversations go something like this:

Millennials: "The older vendors in this town just don't get it. I'm talented, I have a right to be here and I'm not going to wait around to make it happen. My god, they are not willing to help anyone but themselves."
Boomers and Gen X: "The younger vendors in this town just don't get it. I had to work my way up, they should too. My god, they are so entitled."

Gen X values paying your dues and working your way up. Millennials, not so much. Yet, millennials crave mentorship, value heritage, and are willing to listen to anyone with a smart idea, regardless of how old that person is. They do not share the Boomer mindset of "Don't trust anyone over 30" nor the "Damn the man" mantra embraced by so many Gen Xers. Millennials believe that the industry is also "stronger together" and many are mystified as to why their older colleagues aren't willing to sit down in a group and work together to make that happen.

In addition to the wedding industry trying to figure out how to reach this new generation of brides and grooms, it also needs to figure out how to coexist as different generations of competitors and colleagues.


Originally published March 2012