5 Marketing Considerations During Lockdown

Marketing Your Wedding Venue

Marketing Your Wedding Venue

Today I’m handing over to a cherished regular here on the Kelly Chandler Consulting blog and that’s Emma Hla, founder of the much-loved style-focussed wedding venue directory, Coco Wedding Venues. Read on for Emma’s pure nuggets of sound, sensible advice for making your venue’s marketing work for you and ensuring future wedding success. Over to you..

Firstly, how are you all doing? 

I really hope you, your family and your teams all safe and well. We know it’s been a hard few weeks on the front line of weddings and we want you to know we’re here to offer any advice or support during this time.

Secondly, it’s so lovely to be back on Kelly’s blog! Last year I wrote a piece all around working with and getting the most from third-party marketing platforms, which you can read here

Wedding Blogs and Wedding Directories are a great way of reaching thousands of brides and grooms-to-be who are in need of that ‘perfect’ wedding venue. 

Choosing the right marketing platform for your venue is, of course, the first step, but then the relationship you have with your chosen marketing partners is super important to the success of your investment. 

However, many of you will have been going through a rather stressful and intense period of postponements and discussions with your couples. In short, your focus has been on the here and now and there’s not been much room for anything else, especially marketing.

But as we start to come out of crisis mode, we will find ourselves in a period of stability and planning. This is the time where we should look ahead to future business, future bookings and future success.

With this in mind, I want to guide you through 5 Marketing Considerations During Lockdown. These tips are immediate, but simple, and will ensure your marketing plans are still supporting and serving you during this time.

Nurture your marketing relationships

Couple’s haven’t stopped wedding planning and are using this time to research, in fact, the time users are spending on our website is up by 5% on average.

When brides and grooms feel they can finally move forward with their buying decisions, they will already know who they want to get in touch with, who they want to now view in real life and who they found comfort in during this critical time. Therefore, marketing is not an area to cut during a time of crisis. 

It’s a normal reaction to look at what you’re currently spending, cutting any unnecessary costs and putting in place a financial plan to ensure you are able to survive and indeed thrive once this is all over. As a small company, we’ve gone through the same process. However, cancelling all marketing activity such as Google Ads, Facebook ads and third-party directory listings can actually leave you worse off and delay your recovery time once normal life resumes.

Maintaining your normal level of marketing activity will help you to project strength, stability and resilience in the face of adversity and couples who are yet to book their wedding venue for 2021/22 will see this and will feel secure in their choice when they pick you.

 Effective marketing requires repetition and long-term investment even in a recession or global crisis. The biggest way of being visible right now and being successful as we exit this period is to continue with your usual marketing plans and actually invest more time in nurturing those channels and relationships.

Use this time to go through who you currently work with as a marketing partner and check in with them. Ask what they’re currently doing to support their members during this time and if there are any additional marketing opportunities available to you. Marketing platforms want to support you, so please do continue to reach out to us.

Online Health Check

So, now we’ve established you should nurture your marketing channels, the next step is to give your third-party listings a little health check.

Over the last few weeks, as venues have closed and team members have been furloughed, it’s important to check that the contact details are still correct.

If you are now using a single, generic email address or contact number for all enquiries, then ensure you are advertising these new details so potential leads aren’t dropped or missed.

If you have old special offers or offers that may no longer be valid due to the change in situation, then remove or update these.

If you still have late availability for autumn/winter or 2021 then push these on your listing. Due to postponements or couples relocating their destination wedding celebrations back to the UK, there will be brides and grooms now looking at venues available this year.

Go back to basics with your listings and understand what tools are available to you and ensure you’re maximizing the investment you have made. Update your images, add a beautiful real wedding film, refresh your testimonials, add that ‘featured on’ badge to your website and pop in a request for a social media shout out.

Under this online health-check, I’m also going to mention your own website. A referral from a third-party listing which goes to your website is only ever going to convert to the next stage of the sales process if the couple feel connected and excited by your own platform. 

It’s the perfect time to go through a brand/website check – do your visuals feel current and aspirational? Is your gallery easily found from the menu? Can couples download a brochure or see pricing? Do you have call-to-actions throughout the platform, encouraging couples to get in touch or sign up to your newsletters? Do you tell the story of a wedding day/weekend at your venue? Is your blog up to date and active? Is your website design mobile-first?

Once you’ve gone through the above for your website, do a similar exercise for your social media, ensuring your brand visuals and voice are very clear across all channels.

If you feel you need some assistance, then engage with a brand consultant or talk through any changes with your web designer.

Finally, get tech-savvy. Whether it’s setting up Google Analytics or getting your head around SEO, now is the time to go deep on all the elements of marketing you don’t normally have time for!

Going Virtual

If you have a virtual tour or are now conducting virtual viewings, then make sure this is linked from your listings to encourage couples to engage with you during lockdown.

Whilst some venues will already have professional virtual tours, don’t let this stop you from creating something in response to the current situation. I wouldn’t normally recommend this, but right now your iPhone/Zoom will do the trick! This can either be a link to a page on your website where couples can book a virtual viewing via Zoom or Facetime, or a Vimeo/YouTube link of a pre-recorded show round.

In response to this need for virtual views, we have added a Virtual Tour call-to-action across our listings which our members can activate.

Once restrictions have lifted, it’s worth considering investing in either a professional virtual tour of your venue or a professional brand film that allows you to talk through/show your spaces in a more creative way. 

Book in content 

We have been very honest over on our Industry Blog about the immediate impact coronavirus had on our traffic and statistics.

Although disappointing, we of course expected this, we had all just been hit by the news our everyday way of life was about to change. People lost their jobs, they lost their freedom and for a moment they lost their confidence in what the future looked like.

 However, as we all find our new ‘normal’, confidence is returning and our blog has experienced a little surge in comparison to the previous period. The biggest uplift can be seen across our inspiration features which has increased by +26%. 

 Couples still want the pretty! So, if you have content to share such as styled shoots, real weddings or beautiful tours of your venue then now is the time to submit to your marketing partners.

 Equally, if you want to add your expert voice to advice features, especially around coronavirus, then these types of pieces are very welcomed right now from couples and blogs alike. We have a mini-series which you can see here and we have had some super helpful contributions from our members.

The future of weddings

Smaller weddings, or ‘micro’ weddings, have been on the rise for the last few years. However, I think many more venues should now be actively looking at and working a package around catering for smaller weddings with a shorter planning lead-time.

Over the last 3 weeks, our ‘Intimate’ capacity search filter has increased by +61% in comparison to the previous period and our ‘elopement’ venue type filter has increased by +121%.

Now, I’m certainly not suggesting venues need to be offering a Saturday during the summer season to a couple planning a wedding for 20, but I do think it’s worth looking at how couples may be wedding planning in the immediate future.

Engagements will still happen during lockdown and couples who got engaged over Christmas will still be planning their weddings, so what will their big day plans look like? As restrictions have been lifted across China, we’ve seen a surge in couples marrying immediately and I think we can expect a similar trend here.

Getting married on a smaller scale does not always necessarily mean a smaller budget – indeed couples may want to create a more luxurious, bespoke and personal experience for their closest friends and family – a true celebration of love and life. 

So how can your venue cater to this new market? Do you create an off-season weekend ‘micro wedding’ package? Or perhaps a luxurious mid-week romantic escape? Do you work with a group of trusted suppliers to provide everything a couple would need to ease their planning? 

Big weddings will still happen, because boy will we all need a blow-out party on the other side of this! But I firmly believe there will also be a shift and a re-focus to what’s really important – sustainable, considered and intimate celebrations. 

Images: Rebecca Goddard Photography // Creative Consultancy: Coco & Kat // Venue: Holywell Hall

A note from Coco Wedding Venues:

Coco Wedding Venues is the first place to kick-start your wedding planning – We’re the UK’s original style-focused wedding venue directory and an award-winning blog; serving up inspirational wedding venues, helpful articles, and our indispensable digital magazine The Annual.

Since 2013 we’ve been stripping back the noise and overwhelm in those first steps of planning and beyond for discerning couples with an eye for style. We’re big on beautiful imagery, helpful info without the jargon, and an easy-to-use browsing experience that’s designed to tap into your wedding vibe.

For us, it’s about quality rather than quantity. Our couples trust our knack for finding the most beautiful and unique places to get married – each chosen for their warmth, heart, stories, and individuality”.

Kelly is an events industry professional of 25 years having previously planned weddings (often 6-figure) for over 150 discerning global couples. 

A Wedding Venue Business Consultant to many of the UK’s finest Stately Homes, private houses and diversified farms, Kelly supports land and property owners to thrive by generating sustainable profit from hosting weddings.

A live-long learner and personal development devotee, she’s also a Master Coach & Success Coach to high-achievers.

Being endlessly curious about the power of the mind and neuroscience, she’s passionate about unlocking, unblocking and championing the potential of her fellow bold business-leader clients.

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