Man, things sure have changed since we started our wedding business 16 years ago!
Gone are the days when people called you on the phone to inquire about your services. (When those few throwbacks do call, it comes as a shock.) Makes me long for the days when couples actually checked to see if you were available for their date before asking for the price.
Whether we like it or not, the way today’s Millennial couples (who make up 90% of couples getting married today) shop for and hire their wedding professionals is changing.
It’s up to us to get with the program if we want to grow our wedding businesses.
#1 – Email is the inquiry method of choice.
Give up waiting for brides and grooms to call. They’re not going to call, darling.
Our informal Book More Brides surveys reveal that for most wedding businesses, anywhere from 80-95% of your leads are going to contact you via email or the form on your website.
That does NOT mean you won’t be able to get them on the phone. You can, but you’ll need an effective email response to get them on the phone to make it happen.
#2 – The use of “wedding emails” makes getting a response even harder.
Today’s couples are smart. They know they’re going to get bombarded with emails after registering for a bridal show.
Most likely, they’re going to contact you with a designated email address used only for wedding inquiries and planning. That means your email is going to go unread until she gets around to reading it. And if she gets around to reading it.
You’ll need to make your offer and message compelling to earn the “real” email address because she doesn’t want to risk missing your communication.
#3 – More follow-ups are required to book a wedding.
Because of increased competition and the fact that brides and grooms-to-be are emailing rather than calling, you’ll need to follow up with them more.
Booking today’s couples requires creative follow-up strategies in multiple mediums: email, phone, text, and social media.
And in the aftermath of 2020, many couples are requiring more reassurance before booking.
#4 – Couples expect instant information.
Millennials grew up in on the computer with access to information 24/7. When they reach out to you for information, they want it NOW.
50% of couples rated a speedy email reply as “very important,” and 40% said “it matters, but not a priority.” (Think Splendid Insights Global Marketing Report)
The faster you respond, the more likely you are to book. The good news: your competition is slow as molasses!
Only 27% of wedding business respond to a lead within minutes, and the average response time is 7.2 hrs. (The Wedding Report 2016 Wedding Market Insight)
Millennials’ aversion for an initial phone call and their preference for fast information makes text messaging a powerful additional communication tool.
#5 – Increased desire for price quotes and price sensitivity.
It’s not your imagination; Millennial couples really are more focused on price than previous generations. They’re wizards when it comes to comparison shopping and can whip out a smart phone to find bargains in an instant.
The Knot’s research department discovered that brides will email multiple vendors in each category for prices and create a comparison spreadsheet. This is how they educate themselves about pricing and features in their market, doing an average of 4 weeks of research before hiring.
The good news: price is not the dominant factor in the hiring decision. In fact, The Knot’s Real Wedding Study reports that 44% of couples go over their wedding budget.
You’ll need to find a way to satisfy their desire for immediate pricing info without making yourself into a commodity.
#6 – They’re accessing your website on a smart phone.
89% of Millennials use a smart phone to access your website.
Your website needs to be not only mobile-friendly, it should be designed for easy navigation on mobile devices. Skip this optimization at your peril.
#7 – They want an authentic, personalized experience.
There’s a crazy contradiction at work here. On the one hand, couples want instant access to information without having to talk to a human.
On the other hand, when they are ready to talk – or email or visit your website – they expect a personalized experience with a genuine human being.
Millennials can tell when you send a mass email, and that’s okay, as long as it shows personality. But treat them like just a number and you lose them for good.
Design every touch point with the bride and groom to deliver a high quality, real person experience. Be authentic and let your personality show in all your marketing. This is even more essential if your price is above average.
#8 – They get referrals from social media and reviews.
Today’s couples solicit word of mouth referrals from friends, family and other wedding professionals, in that order of preference. Reviews are consistently popular.
But something newer on the scene is couples asking for referrals in social media. Whether it’s Facebook groups, wedding blogs or Instagram, the wedding businesses who have fans “everywhere” are more likely to get booked.
#9 – They expect tech to work.
While many of us Gen X’ers and Boomers learned to accept the glitches of technology, the Millennial generation expects technology to work as described. Immediately.
If they encounter broken links on your website, forms that don’t work or clunky planning software, it turns them off.
You’ll be most successful in marketing to these couples with seamless technology that integrates with the platforms they use.
#10 – They need to validate their experience digitally.
Today’s couples grew up on the internet. For many of them, their awesome wedding just didn’t happen unless they can prove it with digital evidence.
Wedding pros who incorporate wedding hashtags and make it easy for couples to share their photo and video evidence on Facebook and Snapchat have the advantage.
This desire for digitally sharing also extends to pre-planning, which means a “behind the scenes” or sneak peek on Periscope will be appreciated and promoted by excited soon-to-be weds.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
This is the reality of today’s wedding marketing. We can sit around and pine for the good old days when Yellow Pages ads actually made the phone ring (did that actually happen?) or we can get smart and make the best of it.
It’s time to educate yourself and modify your marketing and client experience to meet engaged couples where they’re at here in the 21st century.
2016 Is the Year of the Millennial Customer
8 Shopping Habits of Millennials
Millennials Coming of Age Infographic
2016-2017 Wedding Industry Business Trends
What trends in wedding marketing do you see? Share your thoughts in a comment below.