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10 tips Inbound Marketers can steal from Weddings

Whether you are a guest, in-law, family member or tying the knot yourself, it is a universal law of nature that we all pay a premium for anything related to weddings.

This one-day is so important that everyone involved throws most common sense (and your wallet) to the wind. Having played every role and witnessed hundreds of weddings, I can tell you that the power of wedding marketing is something we can all take best practices from. Here are our top ten wedding takeaways to improve your Inbound marketing efforts:

1.    Save The Date

The anticipation of a wedding starts the second someone says “yes”. Everyone is eager to know the date, who’s invited, the dress and other details – whether they will admit it or not.

How can you create that kind of attention and eager anticipation for your brand? Embrace the idea of “save the date” cards.

By utilizing a marketing calendar, you can easily plot out a long-range marketing event with “save the date” announcements sent well in advance building anticipation and demand for your product, service or marketing offer. Save the date Inbound marketing messaging creates a feeling of exclusivity. Customers and leads can convert to an “RSVP” waiting list so they are the first to know the special offer. You generate demand and a lead list; your customers feel exclusive and special. 

Wedding Marketing Take-Away: Plan and executive strategies that include a “save the date” methodology so your VIP customers feel special and "in the know."

2.    Trends and Themes Matter

Couples spend countless hours distilling their relationship into a theme that reflects what they feel is the keystone to their relationship:

  • Power Couple: business colors, black tie and a serious venue. 
  • Down to Earth Couple: mason jar drinks, outdoor ceremony and picnic fare. 
  • Party couple:  the after party is the real reception with lots of drinks and dance moves into the morning hours that end with the embarrassing tradition of the “pants down piano man.”
  • Quiet couple: small ceremony and no reception or they eloped…

All these themes come with a color palate, messaging and sometimes even an app.

Sounds like a marketing persona doesn’t it?

Defining your marketing personas is the keystone to the best Inbound marketing campaigns. Unless you can peel back the onion to your personas’ core values, your messaging will never resonate, attract, convert or delight.

Wedding Marketing Take-Away:  Just as couples invest time in defining their brand persona, your brand’s personas deserve the same personal attention and care.

3.    Be Matchy-Matchy

Starting with the engagement photos and save the date cards, a look is set for the entirety of a wedding event. Colors, fonts, paper styles, website design, bridesmaid dresses and tuxes (or suits), place settings, favors, flowers, playlists, even bathroom “kits” for guests all relate to the couple’s signature look for the event.

The Pantone Institute color of the year isn’t just for the fashion industry.

The application of branding through color, typography and digital design ensures that the guest or customer knows without a doubt the originator of the message.

Unbound marketing, of which Inbound tactics are an important part, is an un-siloed process that achieves consistency across all communication channels and brand experiences. The customer should feel that no matter how they interact with the brand, it feels like one conversation.

Wedding Marketing Take-Away: Create a brand style sheet, and run an internal campaign to ensure brand buy-in and stick to it.

4.    It’s not about the Destination, it’s about Telling the Story of the Journey

The best wedding toasts usually have nothing to do with the events of the day. They are stories told by close friends or family members about a pivotal event in the couples’ lives that led to this current moment.

Everyone loves a good story. When told with the right combination of timing, humor, relateability and emotion the story engages the audience and enriches the experience.

If you're looking to achieve a personal connection with your audience, employ a story-telling tactic in your Inbound content marketing strategy. 

To quote Simon Sineck: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. If you don’t communicate the emotions of the brand, it will be defined solely by the customer experience. By not investing in your brand’s emotional story, you are robbing the brand of the chance to connect at a deeper level with its customers.

Wedding Marketing Take-Away: Tell your brand’s stories in toast format – length appropriate, personal and entertaining through Inbound content marketing tools such as blogs, social media and other digital media.

5.    Digital Proof: Photos, Photos and More Photos

No wedding is complete without photos documenting the day. Photos are taken professionally, selfie-d by guests, photoboothed, instagrammed or documented by the bride herself. All photos tell a story of the event as it happened in that moment – props optional. It’s digital proof that the experience is real, relatable and shareable.

Which would you rather look at: a story of an event complete with photos or a transcript of the day?

The same photographic philosophy can be applied to your Inbound marketing efforts. Don’t rob the brand of the opportunity to convert at higher efficiency by not employing photographic assets in your Inbound marketing offers. Videos, content streaming, and photos should be a part of each brand communication in order to drive personal connection and authenticity. 

Wedding Marketing Take-Away: Capture authentic, original brand photos and incorporate them in all communications.

6.    Who invited the Drama Llama?

No wedding is complete without some sort of drama leading up to or during the event. Unbeknownst to you or not, emotions are running high and someone’s feelings are being unceremoniously trampled. During a wedding the guests are your customers and management of their experience falls on a team of vendors, family members and yes – the couple getting hitched. Bad experiences lead to hurt feelings, misunderstandings and sometimes worse.

Weddings are not the only places the Drama llama can strike. Never before has there been so many communication outlets for disgruntled customers. On the other hand, an Inbound marketer can look at these channels as multiple ways to cultivate customer relationships – disarming the Drama llama before it has opportunity to strike.

Wedding Marketing Take-Away: Your customers are your guests. Don’t let the Drama Llama ruin their experience. Tackle misunderstandings and hurt feelings before they mushroom cloud into divorce.

7.    Create a Community (AKA It's Not About You, It's About What They Say About You)

Ever attend a wedding that was so wonderful that you find yourself still sharing details after the event is long over? Or the complete opposite, an experience so bad that you can’t remember the couple’s first dance but you certainly remember every detail that made you uncomfortable during the event. What is the lesson learned from these different wedding experiences? Successful weddings and brands put their guests and customers first.

We are fond of a saying at Illumine8 Marketing and PR: You are not your target market. Just because you love something, that doesn’t mean it is representative of your brand’s customer personas.

Wedding Marketing Take-Away: Design brand experiences around your customer personas, not just what you love. Happy wedding guests have a great experience because the couple considered their guests’ preferences in their planning.

8.    Share Shamelessly

Even the most introverted of couples find themselves at the center of attention on their wedding day – and, intoxicated on happiness, sometimes share more than they usually do. An embarrassing photo, stories, toasts… not much is sacred during the wedding process – showers and bachelor/ette parties not excluded. By throwing caution to the wind, guests see an authentic experience – good and bad.

The days of controlling a brand are gone the way of VHS tapes and pagers. Inbound marketing professionals experience greater brand retention when they embrace their brand’s authenticity – warts and all. So go ahead, be yourself. After all, your customers are going to find out eventually if the emperor has no clothes – so own your brand in everything you do.

Wedding Marketing Take-Away: Be yourself. No sense trying to fool anyone.

 9.    Favors

Everyone loves a gift. Wedding favors are fun ways the couple can thank their guests for investing time and money in their day. No matter how small the token, it is always appreciated. Favors are usually personal and tie back to the theme of the event. 

When is the last time you gave your customers a small token of your appreciation for continuing to do business with your brand? If you can’t remember when you last gave your customers a gift, then it's time to consider a little gift reciprocity to show you care.

Wedding Marketing Take-Away: Small gifts can produce big rewards. Consider “favor” inspired gifts to customers with no strings attached such as un-gated downloadable white papers, infographics or calculators – your way of saying “thanks for doing business with us”

10. Thank You Notes

Your mother taught you to always send a thank you note. Some good advice never grows old or out of style. Sending thank you notes for wedding gifts is the last step in the wedding “campaign” process and is as important as the save the date cards. A personalized note, like a save the date card, makes the guest feel exclusive, special and appreciated.

Want customers to feel the same way about your brand? Then don’t ignore the nurturing cycle of the Inbound marketing process. So many brands ignore the customer nurturing process – forgetting to continue the relationship long after you say “I do”.  One easy way to start employing a customer nurturing marketing campaign is to simply take your mother’s advice. Send a thank you note. Let the customer know that you care that they selected you to solve their problem. A little thank you can go a long way to celebrating anniversaries down the road.

Wedding Marketing Take-Away: Don’t end the relationship at “I do”. Sending thank you notes to customers lets them know you care about them selecting your business.

Feeling stuck with 21 bridesmaid dresses worth of wedding knowledge you think will never serve you?

From "Yes", to "I Do" to "Thank You", Inbound marketing professionals can take lot of tips from the endless wedding season cycle. 

Have a wedding tip to share that translates into Inbound marketing gold? Let us know and share in the comments!

Till then… “get out of my Van Halen t-shirt before you jinx the band and they break-up”.

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