158: How to Market Your Wedding Business with a Limited Marketing Budget

How to Market Your Wedding Business with a Limited Marketing Budget

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The First Step:


I challenge you to determine the real reason you have a limited marketing budget. Ask yourself WHY you have a limited marketing budget and be honest.

Why are we asking ourselves this question? Because anyone who owns a business should know that marketing leads to sales and sales are the financial life source of your business.

If you know this, then why do you have a limited marketing budget? And, what does “limited” actually mean to you? Does limited mean you truly have $0 to spend on marketing? Or, does it mean $200 a month? Does it mean $50 a month?

Pro Tip: One of the most interesting things I’ve found with my clients is that they say they have a “limited marketing budget” but they don’t actually have a real number in mind.

You have to do the work, gather the data, and get an actual number for how much you have to spend on marketing each month. If you’re allocating all of your money strategically and it’s all gone because you’re not making a lot yet, then the truthful answer might be you have $0.

Or, the real answer might actually be: I have $0 because I CHOOSE to spend money on other things in my business and I’m not prioritizing my marketing because I think posting to Instagram is a marketing strategy.

Why do you have a limited marketing budget?

 

  • Are you a wedding planner with a limited marketing budget because you just started your business and could only afford a website and maybe a bit of collateral?
  • Are you a photographer just getting started and you invested all of your startup capital in equipment?
  • Are you a new venue and you want to book clients but you didn’t factor in marketing budget into the amount of money you borrowed to build your venue?
  • Are you a wedding pro who has been in business for a handful of years but have never sat down to allocate a marketing budget to your business?

 

Whatever the reason is, before we get into marketing strategies, I want to share four important points:

1. You can’t put marketing on the back burner forever. I’ve said this before on the podcast and I’ll say it again: at one point or another, you’re going to need more sales in your business and marketing drives sales. 

2. To have a successful wedding business you must:

      1. Have Paying Clients (couples paying you for your services)
      2. A strategy for getting more clients (leads, lead funnel, marketing strategy)
      3. A differentiating factor from your competitors that you understand and know how to share

 

3. When it comes to your business, you can spend TIME, MONEY or BOTH. Those are your only options. There isn’t a “magic marketing remedy” where you can spend $100 a year or do 10 total hours of marketing and somehow book six figures of business.

Remember this when you’re designing a marketing strategy on a limited budget for your wedding business.

IT’S ABSOLUTELY FINE IF YOU DON’T HAVE CASH FLOW FOR MARKETING. JUST KNOW YOU’LL HAVE TO SPEND TIME ON MARKETING, INTERNALIZE IT, ACCEPT IT. THAT’S THE OPTION YOU’RE CHOOSING IF YOU DON’T HAVE A MARKETING BUDGET.

4. Go “All In” on ONE marketing strategy that’s working for you for 45-90 days.

If you have a limited amount of money (or time for that matter) focus on ONE marketing strategy for 45-90 days. Instead of diverting your already small budget or small amount of time, put it all in one place to make it more impactful.

    • The key to this strategy is to gather data on how you’re obtaining clients right now. Which strategy is working the best for you that is converting into paying couples?
    • If you have clients: HOW did you get them? Determine the main way you gain paying clients and go “all in” on that one strategy.
    1. If you get clients through referrals, how can you put your marketing budget towards earning more referral business? Is it through vendor networking? Is it through social media? You decide.

    2. If you haven’t booked your first client yet or have had less than 15 total clients: you don’t have a big enough data set to determine where your clients are consistently coming from - that’s okay!

      Pick one strategy that you can do consistently and make that your “all in” strategy for the next 45-90 days.

      Since you have a limited budget, don’t choose something like Paid Ads unless you KNOW how to run effective ads from past experience. I’d encourage you to choose something like “Vendor Networking” and go to every single vendor networking opportunity in your area for 3 months.

 

3 Strategies for Marketing your Wedding Business on a Limited Budget

 

1. Content Strategy

Please don’t say, “I hate blogging/writing so this isn’t for me.” A content strategy is much more than blogging, stick with me.

 

If you have a small or nonexistent marketing budget for your wedding business then content marketing combined with strategic sales funnels should likely be the first strategy you explore because the only thing you have to invest is your own time and an email system.

Content strategy can include: podcasting, YouTube videos, blogging (of course), microblogging on social media, Instagram Stories, Live Video, etc.

 

If you’ve been listening to my podcast, She Creates Business, for any amount of time you know I’m a huge fan of creating consistent, educational content for your ideal client. When you show up as the expert and help your ideal clients find the answers they need they’ll trust you, book with you and recommend you.

 

Here’s something important I want you to remember: Just creating the content won’t help you. A Content Strategy isn’t the field of dreams….just because you create it, doesn’t mean they’ll come.

 

Your Content Creation Strategy MUST be combined with a solid marketing strategy and sales funnels. Why? Helpful content is why clients will start to TRUST you, your marketing strategy is why they’ll FIND you, and a sales funnel is why they’ll BOOK or PURCHASE with you.

 

SAMPLE CONTENT STRATEGY FOR YOUR WEDDING BUSINESS

Core Concept #1: Repurpose the same content for an entire week on all marketing platforms.

Core Concept #2: DO NOT just create content for “content’s sake” - that’s a waste of time. You want to have a sales funnel around any content you create to drive business to your bottom line.

Example: Create blog post > add a free workbook as a content upgrade that readers can opt-in to receive for free with their email > that opt-in will drop them into a 5-7 email sales sequence that offers them a paid digital product or an invitation to consult with you for your services in the last 2-3 emails of the sequence.

 

Pro Tip: If you’ve been in business for enough time to understand which marketing platforms work best for you, please keep that in mind while reading this sample content strategy. The point isn’t to follow my strategy word for word, it’s to see what’s possible and apply this example in the way that works BEST for YOUR business.

1. Write one healthy blog post (at least 1,200 words) per week on the same day each week. Let’s say you choose to publish on Mondays. (Sample topic: What You Should Ask Your Wedding Venue Before You Book). Do a typical post on both Instagram and Facebook sharing the newly published blog post. On Facebook: also mention you’ll be live on the platform on Thursday of the same week to discuss further. Pin the post to Pinterest. If you’re using a Pinterest scheduler like Tailwind, load up additional Pins to this blog post to automatically Pin for you later as well.

2. On Tuesday: Write a “microblog” (a short version of your blog post) on Instagram and Facebook accompanied by a beautiful and relevant photo from your portfolio. If you’re just getting started in your business and don’t have a portfolio, use a stock photo. Mention again that you’ll be LIVE on FB on Thursday this week.

The key here is: give your followers on these two platforms the information they need WITHOUT asking them to leave the platform.

 

3. On Wednesday: Share 5-8 Instagram Stories about your blog topic. Using our sample topic again above, you could share 5-8 questions (from the list you’ve created in the bio post) in Instagram Stories and why they’re good questions to ask your wedding venue.

 

PRO TIP: Please put your face on the camera. If you’re painfully shy, combine face time on the camera with static Instagram Story clips. But also, get over yourself. You’ve got to put A FACE to your business. The popularity of video in business isn’t slowing down. Get on the train.

 

4. On Thursday: Go LIVE on your business Facebook Page to share your thoughts on why couples need to ask the questions you’ve shared before they book their wedding venue. You may have questions from your audience that you’ve received throughout the week, answer those questions during the LIVE broadcast so everyone can benefit from your knowledge.

GOAL: Be informative, helpful and fun! Show off your personality but DO NOT ramble. If you tell your audience you’ll be educating on a specific topic, get to the MEAT of the conversation quick. Don’t spend 10-15 minutes just introducing yourself. Quick intro, then get to the goods.

 

5. On Friday: Using your blog post topic from Monday as inspiration, publish a podcast episode, YouTube video or other audio/video marketing option that you like. Add the audio to the blog post you’ve already posted.

 

If you’re not sold on the importance of having your own Podcast and/or YouTube Channel in 2020 and beyond, email me so I can convince you :)

 

6. On Saturday: it’s likely you have a wedding today so take a break from promoting your content and take your audience behind the scenes of your wedding day by using Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, Instagram Live and/or Facebook Live. If you’d like to casually mention your content piece again sometime during the day, do that!

 

7. On Sunday: Get prepped for Monday by scheduling your new week of content, planning Thursday’s live video script, your podcast/youtube script and creating all graphics you’ll need for the upcoming week’s promotion.

 

2. In-Person Networking

 

Before we dig into the In-Person Networking tips I wanted to remind you that, even if you’re new to the wedding industry, you still have a personal network of friends, family, and acquaintances who can refer you business.


Don’t bombard them with sales pitches about your wedding business but DO share with them that you’re accepting new clients so they know HOW to refer you business. We should all be working our personal networks.

I don’t mean post once on your personal Facebook page with some watered down message. I mean speak face to face with people or send personal emails to your network genuinely sharing about your business and asking them to consider you if anyone they know may need your services.

Okay, let’s get to the strategy.

IN-PERSON NETWORKING STRATEGY FOR YOUR WEDDING BUSINESS

Create a spreadsheet of every. single. vendor networking opportunity in your area for the next 45-90 days.

 

Come up with a specific goal for your Vendor Networking Strategy. Let’s say your overall goal for the 2-3 month period of networking is to create 5-10 new relationships with vendors who can refer you business.

Then, you’ll want to create micro-goals for each individual networking event to help you reach your overall goal of 5-10 new relationships.

A micro-goal for this type of overall goal may look like: introduce myself to 3 new people at each networking event and ask for their business card.

 

WHERE TO FIND VENDOR NETWORKING EVENTS:

 

  • Ask in local vendor Facebook groups
  • Ask your current vendor network (send an email sharing that you’re looking for new opportunities to meet people and would love to hear about in-person events/workshops/etc that other vendors recommend.
  • Research online
  • Keep an open mind and consider attending events that aren’t just wedding-vendor related. Local entrepreneur or women in business groups can be just as fruitful.

 

WHAT TO DO AFTER EACH NETWORKING EVENT:

 

Now that you’ve created your spreadsheet, researched networking events and have your overall and micro-goals laid out, you’ll need to take action after each networking event to bring it all together and make it impactful in your business.

 

Using the business cards that you’ve gathered at the event, head to Gmail and schedule thank you emails to be sent to each person you got a business card from 2 days after the event.

Gmail users, you can use a free tool called Boomerang to schedule emails, it’s amazing.

Why schedule these emails? Because you can complete this task while it’s fresh in your mind and use automation to your advantage while still being a genuine human.

 

Your email should be short, to the point and don’t ask for anything. Just let the person genuinely know it was nice to meet them, remind them where you met, mention anything you had in common or chatted about at the event and let them know you’re available if they need anything.

Boom. That’s it, you’re done.

 

Go the extra mile and put a reminder appointment in your calendar to follow up with these folks in a month or so just to say hi.

 

Staying top of mind, along with helping people without expecting something in return, is key to gaining referral business.

 

3. Offer Your Services for Free or at a Discounted Rate

 

Yikes! Working for free or for a discounted rate when you’re already limited on funds?! Don’t close this window, my friend. Hear me out. Do your own due diligence and determine where you’re at in your business, your finances and what you can confidently offer that you won’t resent.

 

This strategy could work for you if your desire is to bring in clients from a different niche than your current one (example: weddings vs. corporate), if you’re newer in business and need experience and testimonials, or if you’ve been in business for a while and business (read: revenue) is SLOW.

 

I want to share a story with you where I’ve seen this work beautifully.

There’s a local calligrapher that I’ve been following here in Colorado named Camille. She owns Handsome Love Calligraphy.

Back in 2017, when she first started her business she reached out to my venue to offer FREE goodies for a styled shoot if we ever needed them. I know we weren’t the only vendor she reached out to which is brilliant of her. She was offering something we all needed!

 

Her email was genuine, very kind and she didn’t expect a thing from us. Did I take her up on it? I absolutely did. Since then, she’s blown up in Colorado, has worked with some of the most popular vendors in our state and has been featured in industry publications like Martha Stewart Weddings, Style Me Pretty, Carats & Cake and many more.

 

And here’s the thing: we didn’t even have a chance to use the items she sent because our styled shoot fell through. But, I NEVER forgot Camille because of her kindness to us and she’s remained on our Recommended Vendor Guide since 2017.

Here’s the key point: Camille offered her services for free in a very strategic way. She wasn’t just handing out custom calligraphy to anyone. She was offering it to wedding vendors who could recommend her to her exact target audience.

 

How can you serve people through your services to gain exposure and referral business for your exact target audience like Camille did?

 

The strategy that Camille implemented cost her personal time and the wholesale cost of her supplies. That’s it.

Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with for wedding vendors to offer their services for free or at a discounted rate to gain additional business:


1. Venues:

Host a free vendor meet up like a wine and cheese night or a bubbly and brunch get together. Being the person who gathers other vendors together for good food and conversation (where they don’t have to work!) instantly connects people to you. You have space (and likely the furniture) already. Spend a little money on the food and bring people together in your space.

 

If you don’t want to be the one to plan an event, offer to host an established conference or workshop for a free or discounted rate.

Reach out to the conference/workshop hosts and see how you can be of service to them!

 

Don’t be afraid to have some stipulations around this and get it in writing. Example: you want to be mentioned and tagged 3 times on the conference/workshop social media handles as the venue sponsor.

 

2. Wedding Planners:

 

Have you been dying to expand your business into corporate because you know it’s a revenue stream that would be invaluable to your business? Reach out to your personal and professional network and inquire about upcoming corporate events.

 

Offer your services to 1-3 events for free or for a discounted rate to gain valuable experience, your first corporate clients and hopefully, positive testimonials that you can use to earn more business.

 

Participate in Styled Shoots and be the one submitting them for publications to increase exposure! So many times I see vendors participating in styled shoots that nobody submits for publication and the photos just collect digital dust or become part of our “portfolio.”

 

I’m not saying having portfolio photos isn’t valuable, it is. But, have an actual GOAL and PURPOSE for putting together a whole styled shoot so vendors have a better chance of booking clients from this shoot.

 

Quantity AND quality is the name of the game here. If you’re new in business or need a shot in the arm for your current business, hustle this year and create multiple, quality styled shoots. Get in front of as many vendors as you can and SERVE them well. You’ll be the first one they think of when referring business.

 

3. Photographers:


The styled shoot tip above definitely applies to you too. Participate in styled shoots that you plan on submitting for publication.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to experienced vendors you’d LOVE to work with and make it clear to everyone upfront that you want this shoot to get published so they all need to bring their A-Game.

 

4. Calligraphers/Artists/Etc

 

Take a page from Camille’s story above and implement it! I’d love to hear your results!

 

5. Floral Designers:

 

This is challenging because I feel like you have one of the biggest hard cost of goods upfront (flowers).

 

My advice to you here would be to only offer your services at a free or discounted rate to events, styled shoots and beyond to higher-end clients who have larger budgets and attract a more “luxury” clientele.

I don’t know a lot about the wholesale cost of florals, your retail and labor markup, etc. so you’re the best person to determine what your business can afford and what will make the most impact.

 

YOUR NEXT STEPS:

If you get creative and hustle, a limited marketing budget doesn't have to stop you from growing your wedding business. 

I'd love to see you implement one or more of the strategies mentioned here and share your results with me! Reach out to me on Instagram @shecreatesbusiness and tag me in your story!

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