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Let’s talk about the top 4 marketing mistakes venues make. The four we will discuss today, we particularly see with new venues, however, we do also see this with established venues that are stuck in their ways, toeing the line and riding the wave – expecting things to continue on as they have been. Let me just say, that makes me so nervous! Our market and our industry are shifting so much every single day. Currently, Coronavirus is a real thing and I have really been thinking about this when it comes to the event industry because it is so transient and there is so much travel that is involved in our industry. I’m not trying to be a doomsday sayer but I am thinking about how we have to constantly be flexible and strategic in our thinking when it comes to our businesses, how we are getting business, how we are marketing our businesses, and how we are keeping up with that.
This is a harsh saying but a true saying nonetheless, and the saying goes “evolve or die.” Again, harsh but true! And it’s easier said than done especially for established venues because we get comfortable. It can be hard to pause. I want to acknowledge that. If you are an established venue and you haven’t updated your marketing plan in a while I just want to say, I see you and I acknowledge how hard it is to pause in the middle of wearing the millions of different hats and things you do to make sure it all happens.
But I am hoping that this list of the top four marketing mistakes venues make will be helpful and a really good motivator to maybe light a fire to start taking a look at at least one of these marketing mistakes venues make. We specifically chose these four in that they are so achievable in editing, starting to overcome, and starting to change. So let’s get started!
I feel like this is #1 for me in the list of marketing mistakes venues make, especially since we are now in the year 2021. The first of the marketing mistakes venues make is that they do not have a good website. Here are a few ways you can tell if your website is struggling and that you need to make a change. It is outdated. Ask yourself: Has it been a couple of years since you last updated your website? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to make the changes.
We are now almost exclusively attracting Millennials and Gen Z is coming up. This may not be all of your couples, but you know they make up the majority. And soon it will be only those people and they have grown up with technology, especially Gen Z, and they have a really high standard. A high standard meaning a modern design, a clean design, it’s easy to navigate, and you are not intentionally hiding important information. You have to make it easy for your future clients and your potential partners to find information because they are making judgments about you and your business based on what your website shares with them instantly.
If you are one of those people who have a one-page website because you want every single couple to email you, you need to take a really good look and ask yourself, is this really the best way I can serve my couples by forcing them to communicate with me in a way they don’t really want to? These generations want convenience and transparency.
There is a difference between a true website and a landing page, and I do think there are appropriate times where a landing page is okay. An example would be a brand new venue that is being built. You don’t have a lot of content to display, you really are just trying to get them to join your email list, submit an inquiry, or schedule a phone call, and update them on your progress. If this is where your venue is currently, I also recommend starting a blog. This is a space where you can start showing people you are the expert, to start creating content that will start pointing people to your venue so now you have a two-page website. You are doing video updates of your progress, writing articles, and starting to create that great SEO juice locally because you’re going to need it!
As you grow and evolve and your venue is open, you’ll have more content, beautiful photos you need to display, a portfolio on the versatility of the different weddings that you can host, that requires a website. Now you take your couples on a journey. There is a specific journey you want your couples to go on so that in the end they contact you, or book a tour with you or both, right? You can strategically design your website to take them on that journey.
The first thing you want people to know about your venue is the style of venue and location. It should be the first thing above the fold that they see, so if they are looking for a modern industrial look, your venue either fits their needs or it doesn’t. This will eliminate the emails for pricing requests for those whose vision doesn’t fit your venue style. The next thing almost directly below the fold should be a video tour of the venue because you want them to see what your space looks like! You want them to instantly tour your venue and hear your voice. You want them to see what it would be like to host their event in your venue. Video content is extremely popular. Those are the first two things you want your couples to see and do, and so they should be on the first page of your website.
The next important thing on your website should be an online scheduling link for tours and appointments. I think that the more convenient we can make it for couples to reach out and schedule a tour, the better. Gen Z and Millennials are primary marketing targets right now. They like quick results like automatic satisfaction. So if they are able to quickly look at the calendar and schedule a tour at their convenience, it’s a win for both of you. Some of our favorite scheduling platforms are Acuity, and Calendly which are stand-alone scheduling software, and then there’s Honeybook and Dubsado which are CRM’s that have their own scheduling links within.
The next thing is a hidden sales page. It’s not linked in your header and anyone who accesses your website can’t automatically get to this page. You have the link included in your welcome email campaign sequence. This welcome email sequence takes the couple through all the information you want them to know about your venue as a couple. Your prices are on there and it is something that venues who aren’t comfortable with putting their prices on their website openly can still share with their potential couples.
Having your prices on this hidden sales page comes with a ton of benefits. Number one it’s the one place you need to go when you need to update your pricing or your package inclusions. And of course, your physical marketing pieces that you use to physically hand something to your couples when they’re doing their tours or at Bridal Expos and shows. Something else a hidden sales page does is it elevates the online experience for the couple and it helps your website reach the high standard your potential clients are looking for. Having a modern website is how you avoid the top of the list when it comes to marketing mistakes venues make.
The number two in our list of marketing mistakes venues make, we are seeing that venues are not having a strategic follow-up process. In sales, follow-up is where money is made. So if you don’t have a strategic sales or follow-up process/sequence, I really encourage you to put one in place and train your staff to use it as well. I do recommend doing as much as you can by yourself (as long as you can) when it comes to setting these things up because I think that is good for business. It’s also good that you know enough so when you are ready to hire someone to take this task over, you know whether they are doing a good job or not! I am definitely an advocate for outsourcing when the time is right.
You definitely need to have a strategic follow-up system. A couple of hours after a tour with a prospective couple, send the “thank you” email. The next day you will send a follow-up email, and two days after that send another follow-up email. Three days after that follow-up email (5-6 days out from the actual tour) send a final follow-up email and wish them well especially if they haven’t gotten back to you. Then you are done and at least you know you have done everything to secure that sale.
Hear me on this, you’re not just sending an email that says “Hi _____, it’s Lindsay! I’m just following up. Do you want to book?” or “I just wanted to see if you have any other questions?” That’s not a good follow-up email! Emails like this are also really easy for them to ignore. I really want you to personalize these follow-ups. If you have a system like Dubsado, this follow-up information can be 100% automated.
An example of a good follow-up email would be, “Hey, _____ we just wanted to say thank you again for coming for your tour. It was wonderful to see you! Here’s some additional information that you might find helpful.” Link to your inclusions page, your FAQ page, and even that hidden sales page, or any PDFs you may have that give people your pricing.
Then the next follow-up email would be something like, “Hey, ______, hope you are having a great week. I was just thinking about you. I wanted to send you this (insert value add content you created). I know that you are just getting started with your wedding and your planning journey. I thought this would be helpful to you.”
Constantly provide value in these email sequences. Even if you are having to write these emails yourself at first, it’s okay! Just make it work for you. Just don’t forget the actual tactics. Don’t think that everything has to be automated if that is not what is working for you and your business right now. You can repurpose content as well! You don’t have to recreate the wheel every single time that you’re creating a process within your business. You see the thing is these are all couples getting married and they all need the same thing. You don’t need to create 20 different checklists, you can repurpose the one that is one of your pillar pieces of content, and then use it over and over and over again for multiple styles of people whether it’s prospects, current clients, leads, etc.
The third item in our list of marketing mistakes venues make is that they haven’t actually sat down to create a strategic marketing strategy. As Jay Baer says, “If you have a marketing strategy that is 8 months old or more, you don’t have a marketing strategy or plan.” And that’s because this landscape is constantly changing. And here’s the thing, he does not mean social media. We are talking about a whole strategic marketing plan, for your wedding and event venue so that you can book clients, get clients, get referrals and start the process all over again.
If you don’t have clients who are already paying you and a method to get more, you won’t have a business for very long. Posting randomly to social media, writing a blog post every two months, spending $500 on Facebook ads, and then wanting to burn it all to the ground because it’s a dumpster fire… that is not a marketing strategy. That is a random to-do item checklist.
Here’s how I know this: most people do these things without ever monitoring any data, so you do these things without actually knowing if that is what you are supposed to be doing. Paid Facebook ads can absolutely crush it for some venues and businesses, and they can be complete garbage for other people because it’s not where your clients are. So that is what a marketing strategy does, it helps you analyze the data and find out where your paying clients are coming from. Then you put your focus on those platforms. Then you create a different strategic plan for every single platform because every platform is different.
You cannot have the same strategy you have on Instagram that you have on Facebook. Your Facebook audience and your Instagram audience are two different groups of people. So you have to treat each platform differently. Your marketing strategy has to be individual plans for each platform. You have to find the top 2-3 platforms that are bringing in your paying clients and then create strategies for those 2-3 platforms so you are not wasting your energy, time, and money. Here are part one and part two of The Venue Podcast episode that discusses why your venue needs a strategic marketing plan.
The fourth and final subject on our list of marking mistakes venues make is not being consistent with your marketing strategy across all platforms. It goes back to what I was saying about posting a blog every two months or posting to Facebook once or twice a month, doing Instastories consistently for 7 days, and then not doing them again for 90 days. Inconsistency kills people and businesses. Your clients, your prospects, your potential leads, no one will know what to expect from you. The key is to keep bringing people back to your business and consistency is what does that.
We know people need those 7 or 16 brand touches (depending on the latest data out there) before they take action on reaching out to your business. A good marketing strategy and consistency help you do just that – get paying clients and helps you get more. You have that marketing process that leads to your sales process that leads to you booking clients. It’s all part of one big family. If you are not being consistent in your marketing strategy then those other pools can’t operate because you are not bringing in enough leads.
I hope this list of our top four marketing mistakes venues make was helpful! Let me just say that we’re in the game with you. We are making mistakes and learning from them and trying new things. We’re constantly innovating and trying to be flexible and step up our game. So know you are not alone in this, and that we are cheering you on! If you have any questions on any of the marketing mistakes venues make, please let us know, we’d love to connect with you here!