Friday, January 4, 2013

Who Should I Advertise Online With?

As a wedding professional, you have a ton of options for advertising your wedding related business online.  Let's face it, in a recent study by "The Wedding Report", 78% of brides did some of their wedding professional shopping online.  I won't get into the advantages and values of online advertising as compared to other advertising outlets, but I will get to that in another blog post.  Every successful business owner will tell you that advertising costs are part of doing business and it is true.  But you don't want to get to the point that you are running your business just to pay for your advertising costs, that is just plain silliness.  So you need to figure out what percentage of your business total you are going to dedicate to online advertising.

You have to remember also that some brides will already have their DJ, Photographer, Cake, Florist, Planner, and other professional already picked out.  They know who they want and no one is going to change their minds.  Those are not the brides we are marketing to, because quite simply, it is a losing battle. We are marketing to the bride that does not have the primary candidate or the bride whose primary candidate is already booked.          

As an owner of many wedding websites I would love to say, "Hey, advertise with us".   But I can't and I won't simply because I do genuinely care about all wedding professionals and sometimes, quite frankly, the sites that I own may simply not the best available option in some markets. So lets take a look at some of the options and what makes the most sense.

First and foremost...go for free.  Free is my favorite brand of anything.  If someone is offering you a free listing that will give a link to your website and get you some exposure, go for it.   That is almost a no brainer.  First of all it is some exposure (even if you are on page 20 of their listings).  However and most importantly, it is giving a back link to your website.  Whether it is a crap back link or not, it is a back link none the less.   Make sure that you are getting that link to your website.  Plus, it is some name recognition.  Once again, maybe not a lot, but what do you want for free?   There are plenty of of services out there that offer a free listing.  Take them up on it, every single one of them..because after's free.

Now lets talk dollars and spending your hard earned cash.  Unfortunately, not all websites advertising outlets are free and even the one's that are, offer an upgrade package to get your business noticed.  Some are good and some are just plain nonsense, depending on your market.  They are all going to offer you the world and take your money (heck I even do that), but without knowing what results will be produced, how do you know that spending money up front will pay off?   You don't (because you can't predict the future), but there are some things you can do to check things out before spending.

First thing is go to your old friend Google.  Like it or not, you need to go where your customers are going to go.  You need to act like your customer (ie brides in this case).  So, on a Monday, between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM (yes guess where the brides are at when they search) you go to Google and type in what a newly engaged bride would type in to find her wedding vendors.  She is probably not going to type in your name (unless she is looking for you specifically) and she is certainly knot going to type in the specific name of a wedding advertising service...and yes that was a play on words.  She is going to type in her geographical location and the word wedding or weddings.  Whether that geographical location be a city, a region, or a state, that is what she will type in.  She may also type in a specific vendor type also, but for starters, she will use the location and wedding(s) (I have data to back all this up also).   Eventually, she may go to one of the national services, but only if  she does not find what she wants right from the start.  Remember the term "INSTANT GRATIFICATION", because we will be using it a lot in our blog posts.  OK, back to you.

Now take a look at the results in Google.  Are you listed on that first page??  Maybe, maybe not depending on how your website is optimized.  If you are listed at the top of that first page or even on that first page, then your money.  But if you are not, then take a good look at the first four or five results of the search.  The same things brides will see.  That there folks, will tell you where you want to spend some money.  Don't let anyone kid you, give you a hard sales approach, tell you this or that or anything else.  The results right there, is where the rubber hits the road.

How do I know this...It's simple!!!  Look at your own searching habits when searching the internet for something.   Do you go past the first or second page when looking for something?  Do you even go past the first five results when looking for something?  I know I don't unless I am going on a really deep search. It is just common sense that typically I am going to find what I need somewhere on that first page of results.  I would also hope that most of information gathering is about the same as most people in the world.  But maybe I am wrong.    

In my next post we will begin to look at some of the costs, your return on investment, finding out for yourself, and may even begin to dabble in exposing some of the sugar coated statistics you have been fed to this point.    Please remember, these are only my opinions, I mean after all, it is only a blog.