As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the South African government has banned large gatherings and implemented proper social distancing guidelines. Unsurprisingly, this has led to a major slowdown in the South African wedding industry which, according to experts, is worth over 20 billion rand, and is made up mostly of entrepreneurs and SMEs. With many couples cancelling or postponing their big day without any certainty on confirming a new date, vendors and suppliers have been left with little to no income.
For those who work in the wedding industry, including photographers, florists, venues, caterers and other suppliers, this has led to a loss in income with instrumental knock-on effects. Many SME owners in this space are now wondering if they’ll have a future in the industry after COVID-19, and if they can keep themselves afloat until big gatherings are permitted again. How can they keep their businesses up and running when social distancing is our current reality?
In this guide, we will show you how you can update your marketing strategy today to adjust to these trying times. This will ensure your business can still be acquiring an income during the pandemic, and help you adjust to life after the lockdown as well.
If your business is a wedding venue and can accommodate hospitality guests, you might want to read this article first and if your venue exists in a tourism hotspot, you might want to read this article first.
Know your market still exists
Regardless of a pandemic, brides and grooms are still planning their wedding, they do desperately still want to get married, they‘re still frantically pinning to their boards on Pinterest, researching how many guests they should have, searching for wedding rings and with all this extra time on their hands, you can bet this is happening more often than just on the weekend. So, since the market is actively searching, you need to be very specific about what can you offer right now during lockdown. This will directly affect how each offering is marketed and of course, if you’ve stopped all your marketing efforts right now, you can bet brides and grooms are finding your competitors when they could be finding you.
Adapt your offering to survive
With social distancing as a reality, you need to be able to adapt your offering to the current situation. Say your establishment is on a working farm, for example. You could obtain a permit to offer your farm fresh good to nearby convenience stores and to the public. You could offer your produce to chefs making homemade meals delivered to the public within a close-by radius. Say you’re a photographer- you could still market engagement, couple and family shoots done at home, through Zoom or Microsoft Teams or in a quiet park or garden while maintaining social distance. Venues can still offer intimate ceremonies and private elopements for under 10 people, a super private ceremony with immediate family where the couple can have the this private ceremony, and host a big party for all their guests when the social distancing measures have been lifted. Honeymoon destinations can still sell packages that can be redeemed within an 8-month period after lockdown has been lifted, and florists, décor hire, suit and dress hire establishments and planners can still sell offers at discounted rates now for 2021 weddings for items booked in advance. Florists and décor suppliers can look at marketing their offerings to clients hosting smaller intimate birthdays and special celebrations celebrated at home. There are limitless opportunities to still market and make money during lockdown- you just need to understand the current market and adapt your offerings.
Adjust your marketing message
With an adjusted offering now available to your brides and grooms, you’ll need to market this well, and what better way than with discounts and special offers? Everyone’s pockets have been hit hard in 2020 and for couples who are planning a wedding, cost is always a factor. By offering payment plans, discounts and vouchers, they can pay you now and be redeemed later- it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. These adjusted promotional offers are perfect for Facebook and Instagram marketing, and if you’re lucky enough to have a blog on your website, consider creating engagement with your content marketing through blog posts such as “How to create a memorable and intimate wedding for under 10 guests” and “2021 wedding trends, colours and décor to keep your wedding on everyone’s lips”.
Know your strengths
Very often, marketing is the first place businesses cut down costs from. A popular trend for many small business owners is to try and manage their own marketing themselves, in order to keep costs low. However, just like you wouldn’t DIY your own wedding dress, the same applies to marketing. It’s better to leave this to the experts so you can utilise your expertise in the right place, which is managing your business and servicing your clients exceptionally well and adapting to the their changing needs. Therefore, your marketing really should be outsourced to an experienced digital marketing agency, which will cut down costs on you attempting trial and error marketing until you’re able to get it right.
Use this time wisely
Use your additional time to become more than just a supplier to potential customers. Become a trusted source of information- you can easily do this by publishing articles on current trends and other need-to-know guides. For your “small and private elopement wedding clients”, go the extra mile and prepare a vendor list of suppliers that are in your area or ones you’ve worked with before that can easily jump on board. Your extra time can also be used to ensure you get on top of all that general maintenance you’ve been meaning to do. Give your business a fresh new look, update your website, work on your 2021 price-list, research your competition, and be on the lookout for up and coming vendors you can partner with. Ask your head chef to update your menu with a new take on your old trusted classics. Play around with new floral arrangements, arrange shoots showing off your venue by hosting styled shoots- this helps you partner up and build a relationship with trusted vendors as well. This could require suppliers setting up their staging in stages while remaining socially distant with the model and photographer. These images can be shared across all of the suppliers’ social media channels, ensuring sky-rocketing organic social media reach. During this social distancing time, offer consulting services with clients and Zoom meetings with couples so you can get the ball rolling and the planning phase can still continue.
Adjust your marketing spend
Cancel the big stands and displays which you were planning for upcoming wedding expos and other offline events. Then, utilise all your marketing budget to elevate your brand presence online and increase your digital footprint in a substantial way. This includes refreshing your website and ensuring it’s up to date, ensuring you’re showcasing photos of recent as well as your best work, having a blog that’s updated often. These steps will not only help your SEO score and ensure your business is found by potential clients in the research phase, but it also puts your business at the forefront as leaders and innovators.
Ensure that your organic social media pages are updated often with relevant info, throwbacks to wedding trends, helpful tips and advice. Promoting these posts through paid ads will elevate the reach and ensure your posts get seen by brides and grooms searching for info and services just like yours. Google Search is a really powerful marketing medium that’ll ensure more traffic to your site, and clients who are searching for your products and services can find your business on Google. If that wasn’t enough convincing for you to invest in digital forms of marketing, then perhaps this is- with many businesses cutting down marketing spend and some being forced to shut down, your pool of competitors that are actively advertising are significantly smaller than before, meaning you can advertise online cheaper than ever before, and with less competition.
If you’re ready to take your wedding business to the next level, scale up and ensure its longevity, let us help you. Whether you’re looking for a full marketing strategy with a two-phased approach to get you through lockdown and beyond, or looking to upgrade your social media, email marketing, or a fresh new website with an updated blog, contact Arc Interactive on email@example.com for a free quote.
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